July 8, 2012 Summary of COMA/MHMA walk at Winnakee Park Preserve in Hyde Park
Sunday’s joint walk with COMA was a good one considering the weather we’ve had. Reports were that there was rain to the south, and Carol and I saw it clearly on the drive down from Albany County. With no rain here to speak of for the past 3 or 4 weeks, the lawns were consistently brown as we set out but they “greened up” nicely as we passed through northern Dutchess County and approached Hyde Park; a good sign that we might find some mushrooms.
A total of 12 adults and 3 children participated, the kids were engaged and great to have along. This was my second walk with the COMA group and I again found it a rewarding experience. The COMA members are so in tune with the natural world, they are a pleasure to hike with. Listening to Zach and Taro discuss the plants and fungi finds is like listening to good music for me. Their and George Johansen’s depth of knowledge and willingness to share is delightful and a benefit to us all.
The Winnakee Preserve is a great natural place where the undulating terrain is populated with mature mixed upland and wetland hardwood/evergreen forest. Soon after the walk began, someone spotted the first bolete, a beautiful red capped specimen with yellow pores and a reddish stipe, tentatively identified as Boletus bicolor, a good edible species. We also found a number of Gyroporus castaneus also known as chestnut boletes. The white rimmed orange caps and orange stipes set against the dark green of the mosses and the light green of the surrounding vegetation made for a great photo op and several of us took advantage. A number of pink colored Russulas also made nice photographic subjects with their rigid appearing gills jutting out from under a soft pink pillow like top. A couple of people experienced the acrid peppery taste of these, a test that one usually tries only once or twice. A small number of Chanterelles including some miniature ones were also found and toward the end of the hike, the group spotted several Lactarius volemus that were in perfect condition. Despite the fishy odor, L. volemus is a choice edible species and these were collected for the pot by a couple of lucky hikers. Other finds included several Tricholomopsis platyphylla or Platterful mushrooms, a couple Amanitas including A. rubescens also known as The Blusher as its flesh stains red, and a number of other corals, slimes, and crust fungi.
Following the walk, everyone displayed their mushrooms for an identification session and brought out food to share at an impromptu picnic that boasted various fruits, beverages, confectionaries and what turned out to be my favorite, bread crackers topped with black trumpet laced crème cheese created by COMA’s one and only Vreni. All in all it was a great day and I hope we can do it again next year.
I am looking forward to meeting some of these folks again at the annual COMA foray in Hebron Connecticut September 13 to Sunday September 16. I have never been, but from what I have heard, it’s likely to be a great experience. If you have the opportunity, I think there still may be room.
Looks to me like we need about 5 or so inches of rain to re-hydrate the ground and the short term forecast is not so promising. Let’s hope we get a weather pattern change that brings a prolonged period of rain. Mother earth and her children could use a drink. This will likely have a bearing on the status of upcoming walks and we’ll keep you all posted.
Til next time, adapt to the warm dry weather and be cool.