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Mushroom Hunting

A number of Trust members and member groups organise larger public mushroom hunts, often run in collaboration with organisations like the National Trust. These tend to be  heavily attended and generally demand a modest entrance fee, but they also provide a valuable opportunity to give the widest possible audience a flavour of what field mycology is about. Events like these can quickly dispel any impression that forays are dry and dusty, staffed by crusty boffins! Generally they are advertised in advance in the press and at the centres where they are due to take place.

Mushroom hunts or forays generally take place at weekends and with most groups they run for about two to three hours. The Three Counties Group in East Devon, for example, starts most of its forays at 2.0 pm on a Sunday, finishing at 4.00 pm or 4.30 pm.

The main season runs from late August through to the beginning of November but many groups run a programme throughout the year with limited forays in winter, spring and summer. Forays are very informal, generally speaking with between ten and twenty attending and in Trust member groups everyone is made to feel welcome. Some groups ask for a small additional subscription annually to cover their own local out-of-pocket costs for such things as mailing programmes and hiring halls. For members joining the Three Counties 'home group' of the Trust there is no extra charge.

Occasional visitors to local groups are always made welcome and will generally be asked to pay a small fee 'on the gate'. We do not look on anyone as being either amateur or professional, and whether experienced or absolute beginner everyone is regarded as being on a learning curve. What you can be sure of is that the Trust foray leader will know what he or she is talking about and will be able to identify many species with confidence in the field. However, correct identification of many of the more difficult species also involves hours of work by the group's recorder after the foray, working with a microscope, a pile of reference works and keys.

Groups tend not to go out with the specific intention of finding mushrooms to eat. The main purposes, aside from having an entertaining ramble through the woodlands, are to help enthusiasts learn to identify fungi with confidence but to also to record species that are found for the national records database.

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