Reports and feedback

4th October 2011 - A Tale from Coombes

The following tale was taken from the RSPB site regarding a walk there recently. It was penned by Fiona M:-

'Yesterday saw the return of the legend that is Fungalpunk Dave and his hard working wife. Dave is a master at fungal identification and a very entertaining tour guide to boot! The event was very well attended, thank you to everyone that came along, and hopefully you all enjoyed it as much as we did. 80 species of fungi were found in total, including the fire-milk (Lactarius pyrogalus) which only grows near Hazel, and it's milk has a spicy hot taste, as our willing volunteers found out. We were all advised not to eat any of the fungi as the colour variations and appearance at different stages can be very deceptive, making it hard to determine exactly what you are eating. Dave advised to buy your mushrooms from a shop and not risk it. The popular red and white Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) was also spotted. The amantia fungi grow in bags underground and burst out leaving the little white bits on the cap that you can see. Fly Agaric was traditionally used to kill flies, it was broken up with milk or sprinkled with sugar. It is still used for this purpose in parts of Europe today. Another easily identifiable one found on the day was the Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus), which as the name suggests can be smelt from some distance away. It's mysterious appearance led to it being thought of as witches eggs or devil's eggs in the past. Turkeytail (Trametes versicolor) is a common one in woodlands and looks a bit like the shape of a turkey's tail! Many Birch Polypores (Piptoporus betulinus) were seen around the reserve, I think they resemble cappucino's with their white underneaths and cocoa sprinkled tops. They are also known as Razor Strop Fungus, as when dried they were traditionally used to sharpen razor's. The aptly named Dead Man's Fingers fungi (Xylaria polymorpha) was found on a log pile near the pond, the name is quite obvious when you see it as it looks like a black finger. Another unusual name was a type of slime mould (Myxomycota), called Dog's Vomit that was found on the grass near our willow weevil sculpture. Slime mould is not thought to be a fungus at all, but a protista and is said to take on an almost animal like form and move around! However, I think the best name of the day had to go to the unusually named puffball, the Wolf-Fart (Lycoperdon pyriforme). If you have ever accidentally trodden on a puffball you will understand where the name may have come from!

For the full species list found on the fungal hunt yesterday please got to Dave's excellent website: . I have included a few photos from the day beneath, but nothing quite captures the smells, sounds and textures as well as actually getting out on the reserve yourself and discovering nature first hand. It's not too late to get out and see these amazing organisms for yourself, as we found yesterday there is still plenty to see'.

For a few picccies click here to have a peek.


24th March 2011 - Feedback/Review

Found this on a review website regarding a foray at Rostherne House last year:-

'I live in North Manchester and was looking for a day out in Cheshire. I came across Rostherne House on the web and discovered that they organise a variety of activities of the 'soothing the soul' variety. My choice was a 'fungal foray' and turned up to find a group of like minded people, welcomed by Katie and led by 'Fungalpunk Dave' a real character with an in depth knowledge of mushrooms amongst other things.

So off we went and had found over 10 different varieties before we left the grounds of the hotel. We ended up in Tatton Park (just down the road). We ended up discovering over 50 different types of mushrooms and with eyes opened a bit more regarding the lovely Cheshire countryside.

We returned to a cup of tea and some cake and an hour or so of discussing our finds and eventually left with a 'well I really enjoyed that' kind of feeling and I understand Katie organises other events as well. So I will be looking to visit again. What a wonderful day'.


15th January 2011 - Bolton Field Naturalists Society

After doing a lecture for the fine folk of this struggling society the following feedback was given via their admirable newsletter.

'I have to admit that, knowing very little about fungi, I did wonder what I was letting myself in for on my way to October's meeting. I need not have worried; Dave Higginson-Tranter was such an enthusiast about his subject that you could not help but enjoy it. Did you know, for instance, that if there were no fungi a multiude of life could not exist? For below ground fungi feed off the dying and give to the living. The fungi we see above ground are just the fruit of these amazing structures.

For those of you with internet access I highly recommend his website - Click on wildlife (or punk rock if you prefer). Not only does he illustrate and explain fungi, he also looks at other topics such as butterflies, insects and wildflowers.

Dave put a lot of hard work into his lecture and I am sure that everyone who attended learnt a great deal. His illustrations were superb and after the lecture many people took advantage of seeing an array of specimens first hand. Well done, Dave'

Linda Almond


2nd November 2010 - Feedback from the CAN fungal foray at Etherow. Personally I would have liked more species on show but we did OK anyway. These messages were sent to CAN organiser Rachel Hacking.

'Yesterday's CAN event was another stormer, I thought.  I learned more about fungi in 6  hours,  then I have in my whole life' - Robert O Connor

'I was very impressed with Fungalpunk Dave's expertise which made it very interesting despite most species having died off in the frosts.  Excited to see the earthstars - a first for me' - Ralph Atherton

'Just a very short note to say thank-you, for a great day out, from Joan and I' - Selwyn Forster


14 October 2010 - Feedback again.

Dear Dave
On behalf of Marshall's Arm NR I'd like to send you our grateful thanks for your dogged determination to provide a fascinating, inspirational and informative fungal foray - despite the terrible weather on Oct 3rd.
The info and enthusiasm you provided on the day was passed on to the school children who also enjoyed the delightful fungi that is just on the doorstep.
Many thanks
- Pam Lamb


30 September 2010 - More feedback regarding the forays - and to think I didn't even have to pay these people.

' It was WONDERFUL, and an absolutely brilliant leader, good company and a lovely day' - Pat Lockwood

'Thank you for all the arrangements. Super day totally different. Thanks to
the fellow and his wife
' - Elizabeth

'How could anyone not be enthusiastic, when the Leader is creme de la creme' - Pat Lockwood


24 October 2009 - Here's a review written for rECOrd after I had led a walk for them. A sincere thank you to Helen for listening sop attentively and taking time to review the day.

Fungalpunk Foray’
Saturday 17th October 2009

The colourful flier for this event encouraged me (and many others) to sign up for another free event this time held in a different part of the beautiful Cheshire countryside. “Meet the legendary Fungalpunk Dave and find out about these curious and ecologically important organisms, including which you should definitely avoid for breakfast!” To a complete novice, the names of the fungi fascinated me: Puffballs, stinkhorns, truffles, black diamonds, oysters – I wondered which we would see!

The minibus left the Zoo at 9.15am and met up with those using their own transport in the car park of the Nunsmere Hall Hotel, Oakmere. CountMeIn staff welcomed us and shared a number of book identification guides and magnifying glasses between us. We were introduced to Fungalpunk Dave and about 40 of us (all ages from 7 upwards) followed him immediately into the extensive grounds of the hotel. It wasn’t long before we came across our first fungi. Dave explained that the main body of a fungus consists of a dense network of mycelium which lies buried underground or in a tree trunk and what you see is just the fruit which is there to help develop the species. To help identify them it is essential to know the type of habitat where you find them – it could be mixed woodland, a specific tree species, glades, grassland, rough unimproved ground, bonfire or hedge. Sometimes, a species cannot be identified in the field, but samples of the spores, which cannot be seen with the naked eye, have to be taken back and studied under a microscope.

Dave warned us not to eat raw wild fungi and never to pick fungi from the side of a road because they pick up the chemicals in the polluted air very easily. He gave us many useful tips even if we thought we had picked “edible”mushrooms. In fact, if in doubt always ask an expert or throw it away! Check each specimen! Don’t eat a lot at one sitting! Cook any you know to be edible properly!!

Within a few metres of the car park he was identifying our first species on a grassy bank. We then moved on into the woodland and discovered many more, some of which we collected in containers for future reference. He showed us a fungus growing from cracks on the bark of a silver birch, which was a parasite and would in time kill that tree, as well as other birches in the vicinity if the tree was not felled and removed. From there, we found a ganoderma 'artists' fungus which grows as a parasite on beech trees, dropping 200,00 spores throughout the day and night!

As we came across each fungi he showed us the main identifiable features such as colour, shape, texture, location, change of colour if pressed, or gives out a milky fluid, or even has a peppery smell – we found them all. We even found honey fungus which glows in the dark and sparks if you hit it with an axe and spreads by black cords resembling shoe laces.

The common names were fascinating and many you could understand the reason for the wonderful names. The experts need the Latin names but I enjoyed names such as: turkey tail, devil’s snuff ball, ugly milk cap, foxy spot, brittle gills, bracket fungus (including blushing braket), candlesnuff fungus and sulphur tuft.

As we walked around the different habitats, we found yet more fungi where there was extra moisture, so near the lake the woodland was teeming with different varieties, some now past their best and less easily identifiable.

By lunch time it was good to see that the hotel building had emerged in front of us, where we were welcomed with a hot cup of tea or coffee to have with our sandwiches as we sat on the terrace. Soon we felt revitalised and off we went again with Dave to explore further afield in the grounds. By 3.30pm we had (or rather he had) identified nearly 50 species and our heads were full of valuable information and triggers to help us identify what we find in the future.

As we gathered together at the end of a terrific day, Dave handed out leaflets, giving us valuable reminders about how to avoid mushroom poisoning, and many tips about using fungi for food. It was a gentle reminder to us, that we were not yet all experts like him!

Thank you everyone – my eyes are open and on the way home, even out of the window, I saw a fungi on a tree on the A54 which I hadn’t noticed in the past. Proof of the value of the day!

Helen Holyoak


10 November 2008 - Just been made aware of some comments on Trip Advisor regarding the recent 3 day mushroom weekend at Nunsmere Hall - these are as below and thanks to the providers of these much appreciated remarks. It does indeed make it all worthwhile.


"I've just got back from a fabulous weekend fungi foray at the Nunsmere Hall Hotel. As a beginners guide to the huge variety of fungi that can be found if you know where to look, it was superb. From the moment we arrived to the moment we (reluctantly) left, my friend and I had a fantastic time.

The standards of care and attention to detail were excellent. The hotel staff were without exception friendly and helpful, the food was fantastic, the rooms comfortable and the actual fungi experience was perfectly pitched, enough information to be interesting, but not too academically oriented. The inimitable Fungalpunk Dave and his very knowledgeable wife Gill and daughter Katie provided us with a real experience.

I would heartily recommend this weekend event to anyone who wants to have a wander round some lovely grounds, be entertained and educated and eat wonderful food in beautiful surroundings with some very good company!

Laprinceshazzy (2 Nov 08)


Just wanted to share our fantastic weekend at Nunsmere Hall mushroom hunting last weekend.

We initially were attracted to the hotel from the pictures on the website as it looked like the ideal venue for a romantic getaway for the weekend but when we discovered that there was a mushroom hunting package available we jumped at the chance and I can say it was one of the best experiences we've had in a long time!

-Firstly the hotel is as beautiful as the pictures suggest, long winding drive, scenic grounds to walk in, well appointed rooms and huge comfortable beds.
-The staff are fantastic, attentive and friendly, nothing seems to be too much trouble and you feel well cared for.

The food is superb and being a chef always researching I should know!
I just wanted to thank everyone involved from the staff to the other guests on our hunt especially Mark the general manager and his family for making the weekend such a great experience and our mushroom guide Fungalpunk Dave and his family for giving me a new love of fungus!

If you get the chance to visit the area I strongly recommend a stay at Nunsmere - expensive but worth every penny!!!

Cate A (7 Nov 08)