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Today I joined my fellow members of the Mary Gillham Archive Project, my friends in the Glamorgan Fungus Club, and members of the local Wildlife Trust and Cardiff Naturalists’ Society to walk in the footsteps of Mary Gillham in Draethen Woodlands. And what a fabulous day it has been!

Mary visited these woods many times from the 1960s to the 1990s, sometimes with friend and fungi expert Roy Perry, sometimes with groups similar to ours, and they recorded over 90 different species of fungi during the months of October and November. Our aim today was to recreate Mary’s walks, to see how many fungi species we could find, and to compare those past records with ours.

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It’s been a dry autumn in South Wales so we weren’t sure how much fungi we would find but, turns out, fungi are plentiful and fruiting well under the leafy boughs of this beautiful woodland. From the lower car park our group of almost 50 people strolled along the metalled forestry road, venturing left and right amongst the tall beech trees, eyes peeled for fungi, and we were not disappointed.

From the obvious mushroom shapes of the wood-rotting Honey fungi and the shelf-like protrusions of various brackets to the less easy to spot black blobs of Dead Moll’s Fingers, the common fungi species were what we’d expected to see and were relatively easy to find. We were delighted to also find some unexpected treasures: sprinklings of the charmingly named Jellybabies, a wealth of Earthfans carpeting a large area and the delicate bonnets of various Mycena species.

We’ve still to collate and tally up our fungi finds, so I’ll report back in a couple of days with the full list and a few more photos. If you live in the area and want to do this walk for yourself, the details can be found here.

For the full story about the Mary Gillham Archive Project, check out our website,  and follow our progress on Facebook and on Twitter.

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