Naturewatch: Blackheath and Greenwich Park 6/10/10


Beefsteak fungus

After this morning’s heavy rain, the sun burned so clear that the thick green grass of the heath shone nearly blue. It is a welcome relief after the scorched heath of August, burnt crisp from the dry heat and further damaged by a brush fire. In the Rose Garden on the west side of Greenwich Park, the last of the bushes dropped their petals to the ground, and a bee carefully reaped and sowed an open blossom, riffling through each yellow anther.

In the gated enclosure on the southeast side of the park, about thirty pigeons sat, plump in the manicured grass, each one facing west, the wampum gloss of their breasts acting as little solar panels to soak up the warmth of the afternoon. Meanwhile, larger, reptile-eyed wood pigeons stalked the dim undergrowth, where grew a vast array of mushrooms, from sprouting sticklike armies to dinner-plate sized fungi with names like beefsteak fungus.

The heath boasted fairy rings of mushrooms in its lush grass, and all along the paths of the Park, the woody spikes of horse chestnuts (conkers) plunked beside the more delicate spiny shells of delicious chestnuts. In the Park’s deer enclosure, a Red stag with a large rack of antlers bellowed for a mate, while the little white Fallow deer snoozed in groups on the lawn.

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