September 2011 in Thetford Forest

I remember the surprise with which I was faced when I visited Thetford Forest for the first time. It was way before I kept any record of my observations, but this made such an impression on me that I remembered anyway.
As someone who enjoys collecting mushrooms, having this forest nearby was very tempting, and after our return from the summer holidays we decided to go here. I wasn't expecting to find much this time around, particularly given that in Russia there wasn't that much this year, although the stuff I found was exceptionally high quality.
We arrived at the railway station and just went to the first place we decided on a map. It was an attractive beech grove, and we thought this would be a likely area to find at least something. We sat down to rest near to the entrance to the grove, next to a track that led somewhere to the north.
As soon as I began moving around on that tiny clearing I encountered several penny buns off the bat. I wasn't surprised by this point, even though I should have been, because the area in which it happened was about 10x10 meters. But it did encourage me, and we traversed into the wider birch grove, moving parallel to the road which we had arrived on.
I then found a massive penny bun. And then another. And then others in very rapid succession. The others with me were also finding huge amounts, very quickly. And our bag was filling up fast. And it was a really large bag at that.
Then, I found a massive and interesting looking bolete, with an olive-brown cap, red underside, and red stem. The one I assume now is known as Neoboletus erythropus. I knew it as Boletus erythropus back then. These are interesting, because if eaten raw you are guaranteed an unpleasant time. But if fried or boiled, they are delicious. And I had never encountered any mushroom of this species even half as big as this one was.
The grove ended at a patch of grass, and started again further on. In this area we found several chestnut boletes, something which surprised me as I never encountered these anywhere before, followed in rapid succession by another swarm of penny buns. We had found a giant amount of these fungi, and we had barely even gone into the forest at this stage.
Sure enough, once we returned to the track and went parallel to it in the narrow birch strip, I discovered the true meaning of a 'mushroom swarm'. Mostly penny buns, but also bay boletes. We followed this strip of wood to the end, where another track ended it, and then returned on the other side.
By the time we came out onto the road from where we came we were carrying enormous and very heavy bags of boletes, but we didn't want to leave just yet, particularly me, who hadn't seen so much mushrooms like this ever before.
We followed the road to an interesting-looking birch grove, which was rather damp and had a lot of sphagnum in it. As soon as we got in we found an enormous amount of birch boletes. And they were all of the leccinum variicolor variety. Quite a lot of penny buns as well, just all over the place.
When we returned home, we decided to count how much we had found. We had brought in 4 heavy bags completely loaded with mushrooms with us. We just decided to count the penny buns. There were 126 of them in our bags.
For such a huge amount of fungi, we ate them all relatively quickly.
This part of the forest is seriously incredible. In 2012, also around September, I found what I believe is the UK's first leccinum percandidum mushroom. Reminiscent of an orange birch bolete, except completely white all over, and which bruised red, then blue-black to the touch. I also found a boletus fragrans in the same area.

Posted by gberloff gberloff, July 21, 2021 09:43


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