Fly Agaric - Wareham Forest

If you think of autumn, several different things might pop into your head. Golden leaves, bitterly cold mornings, dew drops on spider webs and pumpkins. This is what I usually think of at autumn, but this year these things have been overshadowed by a more humble and hidden autumnal object; the mushroom. For several weeks now, Angi and I have been spending our weekends in the local woods, trying to find interesting mushrooms to photograph. We’ve had some reasonable success too, the lilac coloured Amethyst Deceiver was a pleasant surprise in Thornecombe Woods, and we now have a mental map of our home county, with some great (and not so great) locations remembered where we can find mushrooms in the future. One thing that has escaped us so far is our Holy Grail of mushrooms, the Fly Agaric. The medium sized red mushroom with white spots is apparently quite common, but we’d had no luck in even spotting a rotten old damaged mushroom, let along one we wanted to photograph. 

On Sunday we drove down to Wareham Forest, which is about an hour and a bit from home. It wasn’t long before we spotted some smaller Fly Agarics, which were about the size of grapes, lying amongst the grass at the side of the paths. We occasionally came across some larger ones, but they were typically smashed to pieces by dogs and children, so weren’t going to be any good for us. We were just walking back to the van when we saw a couple in front of us point to the side of the path and show something to their young son as they passed. Intrigued what they were looking at, we glanced a look as we walked by. Sitting in a small tuft of grass were two perfect looking Fly Agarics. One was about the size of a plum, and the other was slightly larger. They sat next to each other like siblings, both looking fresh and clean under some broken bramble twigs and leaves.

I set about clearing the scene up a little, moving a couple of dead leaves and twigs out of the way. I knew exactly how I wanted the photo to look- shot in portrait mode with the mushrooms towards the bottom of the frame, with the foreground and background heavily blurred by the shallow depth of field. After a few minutes lining everything up, I fired the shutter and finally had the Fly Agaric photo we’d been searching for.

I would like to revisit again soon to try and reshoot the mushrooms with better lighting than the grey overcast sky gave us on the day, but I don’t think I’ll be able to get there again within the next few days, and they’ll likely be gone by when I return. Still, I’m very happy with the photo, and even happier to have found these mushrooms after so many weeks looking.

Have you seen these mushrooms before? I’d like to hear if you have. If you have any comments or questions, please post below!