Burghead: Day Two

It was looking like another gorgeous day. As we walked along the harbour yesterday, I couldn’t help noticing how inviting the forest running alongside the beach looked. Stretching for over seven hundred hectares, Roseisle Forest was a stunningly beautiful pinewood. As we made our way up the slope between the first row of trees, sand dunes transformed to mounds of fallen pine needles and the sound of the ocean soon faded into silence.

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A wide trodden path snaked between the trees. I was on the lookout for fungi, so we headed off-road and ventured up the hills, giving us a great vantage point over the forest below. Before long, a sudden sparkle caught my eye, and I was amazed to discover that a spider had strung its web between two trees several metres apart. Luckily the sunlight had caught the web; otherwise we may have walked straight through it. We spent the next twenty minutes photographing our spider – it was a real challenge trying to get him in focus as the web swayed to and fro in the breeze, which must have felt like a gale to the spider. If you zoom in on the photo of Kerr, you can see a brown dot a few inches in front of his camera, showing just how tiny the little hunter was.

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Soon, it became clear that Roseisle Forest was abundant with a medium-sized, red-capped mushroom that had faded to pink with age. After consulting the Burghead guide back at the cottage, I discovered that mushrooms in the Russula group, otherwise known as Brittlegills, were common here. After checking out the various species I identified this fungus as Sickener (Russula emetica), a poisonous species associated with pine woodland. This mushroom is found in groups and is most common in late summer to early autumn, perhaps explaining why the ones we saw weren’t the bright red colour of their prime.

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After finding dozens more Sickener mushrooms and spending a long time crawling on the forest floor photographing them, we headed back out onto the beach. We met up with my parents and Jasmine, who was whipping up a small sandstorm in her excitement. By this point my stomach was rumbling after the walk in Roseisle, so we headed to lunch and ate outside in the stunning sunshine.

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