Posted by: Ross Gardner | December 20, 2013

And the meek shall inherit the Earth

How many kilometres of fungal mycelium thread their way beneath our feet?    It is a truly ubiquitous component of the life on our planet and one that is essential to the cycling of nutrients for the good of all life in general.  So vast is the presence of fungal life, wherever we find ourselves, and yet also is it so often unheeded.

A winter visit to the Essex Wildlife Trust reserve at Hanningfield Reservoir is dominated by its birds, in particular its often huge congregations of wildfowl – Coot, Tufted Duck, Wigeon and Teal in their accumulated thousands, and the chance of rare grebes or some of the more unusual ducks, like the small gatherings of Goosander that occur annually.  Indeed, my trip there the other day was hugely enjoyable for the busy birdlife, not only on the water, but also the twittering flocks of foraging tits and other small birds in the fringing woods.  Yet, with my attention focussed momentarily on a moss-covered log-pile, my imagination would spread through the woods,but below the sounds of the birds and among the humus covering the ground and into the small corners of the smallest places.

The flat end of a single sawn log encapsulated everything.

The purple of emerging Ascocoryne and the soft crust of Cylindrobasidium are just two of the species that slowly consume the forgotten life of the wood.

The purple blobs of emerging Ascocoryne and the soft crust of Cylindrobasidium are just two of the species that slowly consume the forgotten life of the wood.  Copyright 2013 Ross Gardner.

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