common one, why bother to take care? If it appears to lie outside your particular speciality are you less careful? Many quite skilled field mycologists dislike some groups and may take less care when picking, say, a Mycena, Psathyrella, Panaeolus or Inocybe. These finds, possibly snapped off at the base, will then be offered to a specialist in these genera without the essential knowledge of whether they were ‘rooting’, or from buried wood, whether the extreme base was swollen or of a different colour from the stem. We can all plead guilty to these ‘crimes’ at one time or another.
When fresh specimens of agarics and boletes are collected they should be carefully checked for transient features like a scent, or veil fragments on the cap margin, liquid droplets on the gills or pores, cobwebby cortina on the cap margin or on the ring zone of the stem, or cystidia on the stem; usually visible with a hand lens as a hairy-velvety appearance or pruination. Avoid handling stems if possible. For some genera, such as Inocybe and Hebeloma, keys may ask if minute hairs are confined to the upper third of the stem or are visible over the whole length! In group situations or public forays such features can be lost as an interesting specimen is passed from hand to hand, each person rolling the stem in the fingers! This may be unavoidable, but the recorder should ensure that other untouched samples are safely collected and tucked away in containers for future determination.
When collecting more robust specimens like polypores it is recommended that each collection be placed in a paper bag, ideally with a fragment of the woody substrate, or a leaf of the relevant tree if living. For the softer, fleshier species, some form of closed container is recommended. For very tiny specimens a few stems of moss can be added to maintain the moisture content. Identification keys may ask whether the fungus caused ‘brown rot’ or ‘white rot’ so it is worth learning how this can be determined from the appearance of the affected wood. Identification of the tree type or species can be important. This is often difficult with dead wood but there is a key available for determining tree species: Identifying woods in the field by E. Blackwell in issue 7 of BMS Keys (For lists of BMS Keys see Appendix 9). It has also been published in Field Mycology Vol. 5 (1) January 2004.
Most field mycologists now use tape recorders for field records though some still prefer notebooks. Notebooks have the advantage that they cannot be deleted or ‘written over’, nor do they fail unaccountably or need new batteries! Notebooks can be stored for future reference whereas tapes are generally re-used. The choice is, however, a matter of personal preference – the importance is that some form of record is taken. Whichever method is used the records will have to be transcribed later into some other form, either to a field book, to foray record sheets, to a final foray list of species, or directly into a computer database.
Access to foray sites and the country code
During the final decade of the twentieth century increasing concern was expressed at the threats to our environment at local, national and world levels. Much publicity has been given to increasing commercial and industrial development, pollution, acid rain, loss of the ozone layer and global warming.
Protest groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have grown to become international organisations and, following the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, many governments have responded to demands for changes in environmental perception. Following recent legislative reviews Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) have been afforded greater protection and there is improved access to some areas of the countryside. These changes have, however, generated new responsibilities and, in the interests of conservation, some authorities