Monday, May 29, 2006

Fascinating Fungi and Other Delights

Yesterday afternoon I had an errand to do, so I took the opportunity to go for a walk by the estuary at a spot about fifteen to twenty minutes drive from here. My errand was in a suburb on a long narrow spit of land at the mouth of the estuary. I walked on the estuary side, with relatively calm water inhabited by flocks of gulls and swans screeching and calling. I could hear the roar of the ocean coming through the pine trees, a couple of streets of houses and a row of dunes.
I took lots of photos and filled my camera card. Unfortunately for good bird photos I need more zoom. I did manage some general views of the flocks of gulls. I took close-up details of the patterns in the mud flats. It's amazing what happens to the sand when the water goes out. There were deep frond shaped imprints, perhaps made by sea weed. They were strange coiled threads which looked like plant fibres but collapsed when touched - they were made entirely of sand. I walked on a board walk around a marshy area which is swamped in very high tides. I was surprised by a flash of turquoise blue in front of me - a kotare (sacred kingfisher) with its turquoise back and peach coloured chest. I reached the pines and walked through them for a stretch before clambering down onto the sand. A sudden movement alerted me to a piwakawaka (fantail) doing its aerial acrobatics in the trees to my right. Fantails are very sociable birds, they will sometimes come close up to people because footsteps disturb insects in the undergrowth. This one perched on the branches but not very close, and its sudden quick movements made it difficult to photograph - I have a blurred shot of a "blob" in the middle of a bush.
I walked along the sand and past a jetty to a small inlet. Here I was delighted to spot more kingfishers, and two wading grey herons.

I did get photos of the herons, but wanted to get closer. When I stepped onto the sand I found I was about to sink in, so I had to make a wide C-shaped curve to the left to reach the firmer sandbank in front of me. By the time I had come around to where the herons were, they weren't (so to speak). I took photographs anyway to show the reflections of trees in the water.

On the grass by this bay was a basket fungus.
These are not particularly common, but I have seen them often enough since childhood to think that everyone knew what they were. I've since found this isn't so. They start off as puffball-like "eggs", a dirty brown colour and generally unnoticed. Then the egg "hatches" this remarkable basket, which breaks loose at the base and can be moved around freely. The inside is coated with brown slime with an odour that attracts flies and beetles which spread its spores. The odour is supposed to be very unpleasant, but I've never really noticed - of course, I don't exactly rub my nose in it!

4 comments:

paris parfait said...

Great photos! You're lucky to live in an area where so much natural beauty abounds.

Deb R said...

What cool photos! I've never even heard of basket fungus...wild looking!

I keep wishing for a better zoom on my camera too. And better macro capability and ways to better manipulate the settings for artistic effects. One of these days I think I'm going to have to break down and buy a digital SLR insted of making do with my beloved-but-low-end point 'n' shoot.

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

Wow, that is really an interesting piece, I think i could live with the smell...what does it look like before this?

Catherine said...

You can find a photo of the basket fungus at the "egg" stage on this site

I'm not sure if that linking worked - if not copy and paste the following:
http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/research/biodiversity/fungiprog/foray/saprobes.asp