Autumn Adventures on the High Weald
I've been visiting a wonderful forest and sandstone rock formation in East Sussex since late August. As I already pay for unlimited bus travel, getting here doesn't cost me any extra. I would love to visit this site during June and July, but the days are so long, I would have to camp overnight, which is of course an option next year! Climate change is causing the UK to experience the same weather patterns for weeks or months. We enjoyed fine, settled weather until late September. Spells of heavy rain, strong winds and overcast skies blighted the period from late September to 11th November, when the project finished. You will see an abrupt transition between seasons, due to a long gap. I spent half of my annual leave watching torrential rain cascading down my street, leaving just five fine days in which to capture the fall before everything shuts down for the winter.
The wet, damp conditions during October 2019 provided great stimulus for wild mushrooms. The actual organism is an extensive network of roots and filaments beneath the surface. They serve an important purpose, decomposing and recycling biological matter, thereby supplying trees and plants with vital nutrients. The organism produces fungi above ground to disperse spores for reproductive purposes.
The above Fly Agaric specimen looked promising for a series of images, showing the fruit opening up over time. Unfortunately, this was not to be, despite my best efforts to usher away two over-bred dogs, the third and daftest of the trio toppled the delicate fungi over. As the squeaking owner hid herself in a face palm, I allowed my silence and body language to convey a moderately high degree of personal displeasure. Fortunately, I was able to reinstate the mushroom, but partially disconnected from the underlying roots, any further development will be uncertain. I sometimes find myself taking on the unwanted role of temporary dog guardian, as owners are often overindulgent of their pet's behaviour. I had to stop a dog attacking a pigeon on Rottingdean beach, as three females squeaked and flapped their hands ineffectually. Another stood by and excused as a sign of friendliness, her dog's urination on my bag. I like whippets and lurchers. They are clean, sleek and dignified animals. I've fallen in love with quite a few. I've yet to see them chase deer, disturb butterflies or topple mushrooms.
I was sad to find that the aforementioned slobbering, mouth-breathing gut on legs had destroyed the Blusher mushroom further along the path (see below). I had photographed it on Sunday afternoon and felt relieved to see the specimen survive another 24 hours of footfall. The only consolation is that I did manage to take four very beautiful photos of the mushrooms and they don't last long anyway. The tall, wide Parasol mushroom (top fungi image) is away from paths and will release its spores without being destroyed.
I was delighted to feature in issue 3 of Bumble Magazine. Earlier in September, magazine editor Rachael Nellist contacted me to ask if she could feature my starling murmuration photos in the upcoming October publication. Rachael very kindly sent me a copy of the lovely magazine last week. I was so busy on my autumn photography project, that I only just got time on Thursday to collect it from the sorting office! Thank you so much to Rachael and Josef for putting it together!
It may be late in the day, but I was interviewed by the Sussex Wildlife Trust and American photo journal Glaszart earlier in the year. I've been so busy with photography in 2019, I was somehow remiss in mentioning it. Read Behind the Lens with Alan Mackenzie here. And enjoy Getting to Know Wildlife & Landscape Photographer Alan Mackenzie here.
The poor weather meant I didn't enjoy as many opportunities to visit the forest as I would have liked, but I can't say I didn't make the most of the sunny days. Or at least the days when it didn't pour with rain. It's now time to chill a bottle of Riesling, order a takeaway and not think about Brexit Party dogs for a while. And read Bumble Magazine over a glass or six of wine!