Sherwood Arboretum – In Search of the Holy Grail

What possessed me to meet up with a man in a deserted city park by the river on a Friday night? I often look back at past escapades and ask myself, “What were you thinking, Jane!” When I’m caught up in the throes of passion, common sense often takes a back seat.

Regular readers won’t be surprised to discover that mycological madness was responsible for this nocturnal rendezvous. Yes, fungi fever was to blame for me throwing caution to the wind. I know what you’re probably thinking at this point though. Why couldn’t she go on a fungi hunt during daylight hours?  

To answer this question requires background information and an obligatory bird photo bombardment. You know me by now. Convoluted, long-winded stories are my forte. Time to settle in for the long haul, loyal readers, or escape while there is still time.

Sherwood Arboretum, along the banks of the Brisbane River, has long been a favourite haunt of mine. I’ve written two posts about it previously, sharing the changes that have taken place, and the species which inhabit its forest and wetland.

After buying a better birding camera in 2015, I headed back to Sherwood Arboretum to test my new zoom. The following images show some of the results and also how important the area is for species diversity.

The arboretum has many attractions for herpetologists, as well as ornithologists. Water dragons glare at passers-by, rightly judging us for our neglect of the environment.

Brisbane River Turtles compete for prime real estate in the warm sun after a chilly night.

And if you are very lucky, an encounter with a 3-metre carpet python on the boardwalk will brighten your day (or quicken your step.)

My apologies for the poor quality of the videos which were taken using my ancient phone camera.

Male dragonflies defending their territory also keep me mesmerised.

Sometimes male blue-banded bees can also be found congregating on twigs. The solitary females lay eggs in burrows in rocks, soil banks and even concrete. This species uses a special form of pollination called sonification or “buzz pollination” which involves a bee clutching a flower and shaking its body rapidly to help dislodge pollen from capsules. This process is not used by introduced western honey bees, making the blue-banded bee even more useful at pollinating certain crops.

Now to reveal what it actually was that sent my pulse racing on an ordinary March day in 2015 and led to a nocturnal rendezvous. Cue fanfare now, please. Here it is.

Yes, I know. It’s just fungi, but what you may not be aware of is that I thought I had finally found my holy grail – Ghost Fungus, Omphalotus nidiformis! What is so special about this species? Ghost Fungi are luminescent which means they glow in the dark.   This glow is caused by a chemical reaction between fungal enzymes and oxygen. How special is that!

As you can imagine, I could hardly contain my emotions and it was truly a challenge to negotiate the busy motorway home without causing a pile up. Plans to head back at night were already forming in my frenzied mind. That evening, I fired off an email with photos to my naturalist friend, Robert Ashdown, who is not only a fountain of knowledge in all things wild, but is also a portal to a world of eccentric experts.  

When it comes to fungus identification I am an impatient sod, and this was after all, my holy grail. Before Robert even had a chance to read and confirm the species, I had guilted long-suffering Lycra Man into accompanying me the very next night to photograph what I believed to be my beloved Ghost Fungus.

I knew that plodding through the dark being eaten by mosquitoes in a deserted park late at night had nothing to tempt Lycra Man, so I simply stated that I planned to go there on my own. Knowing how capable I am of abandoning caution for wildlife encounters, he felt obliged to offer his protective services. Having to be interviewed by mass media if I was murdered because he’d left me unaccompanied seemed a somewhat tedious alternative.

And so the thrills began. For some reason I thought the paths would be lit and I neglected to take a torch. Neither did I think about the hordes of blood-thirsty mosquitoes, so we didn’t even have repellent. Understandably, I’d been focused on fungi rather than minor details like actually being able to see. To keep from being drained by buzzing vampires, Lycra Man, with his superior night vision, strode briskly ahead, leaving me lagging far behind with my dodgy eyesight and short legs. At this stage I started to wonder if his definition of bodyguard differed to mine. Maybe his interpretation was simply that he was only there to inform police if he saw me bundled off by kidnappers? Either way, I was thankful for his presence, even though I could no longer see him in the distance.

I’d been confident of finding my Holy Grail again easily, but darkness disorientated me. Perhaps I’d expected the fungi to glow like a beauteous beacon in the night, drawing me in to its magical presence. Eventually, the clouds disappeared and the moon aided my search.

My bleary eyes finally detected the treasure ahead. Where was Lycra Man during all this? I’m not exactly sure, but he suddenly materialised in response to my excited squeals, so I guess he was taking his bodyguard duties seriously after all!

From a distance, the fungus appeared bright white but through the camera I thought I detected a fluorescent green tinge. Was I imagining it?  Was it really my Holy Grail? Perhaps the moon was too bright? Was there something wrong with my camera? Had I dragged Lycra Man out there for nothing? Doubts and mosquitoes dampened the mood. I turned my camera setting onto “vivid” to try to pick up more colour. This was my best result.

Disappointed? So was I. Unsure whether this image supported any kind of identification, I apologised to my kind companion who was by now really struggling to find the funny side to this misguided mycological mission.

Upon returning home slightly deflated, I discovered an extremely informative email from Robert confirming this specimen was NOT ghost fungi but Lentinus sajor-caju, a species which is often mistaken for it.   Lentinus sajor-caju is in fact edible, with the young fruiting bodies consumed in Vietnam and Malaysia. That ghost fungi (Omphalotus nidiformis) are poisonous highlights the importance of never eating strange fungi unless you are with an expert in identification. Do not use my photographs to identify edible Lentinus sajor-caju for the purposes of eating. You may end up consuming toxic ghost fungi instead.

Although my quest to locate and photograph the holy grail of fungi failed, I’ve not given up. I look forward to dragging more unsuspecting victims out on adventures and sharing the results with you. Anticipating your disappointment at this ending, I’ve included a link here to a successful ghost fungi expedition by Robert Ashdown and his son. Please visit the link to be entertained by his humourous adventure in near cyclonic conditions. Here’s an excerpt:

“Yes, they were indeed glowing, but capturing them was not easy, despite their sedentary nature. Howling gales looked set to bring trees down, and rain pelted us. For some bizarre reason scrub ticks were out in this weather and Harry ended up taking one home with him, firmly attached (the trials of the assistant).”

And here with permission from Robert are two shots of real ghost fungi. I’m sure you’ll agree that my obsession with this Holy Grail is justified when you view this nocturnal splendour.

65 thoughts on “Sherwood Arboretum – In Search of the Holy Grail

    • I hope so, Brian. 🙂 That adventure was in 2015 so it’s been a while. Like so many of us these days I’ve not been travelling far from home. Quests are great for motivating me to keep getting up each day. I’m pleased you enjoy a good quest as well. Maybe one day we can go on one together. I hope you stay safe and well down there. Delta is causing so much distress. Take good care of yourself. 🙂

        • Yeah, I know what you mean about the selfish people. Unfortunately, I had a severe allergic reaction to my covid vaccine which landed me in hospital and they won’t let me have any more. Trust me to be the rare weird statistic! Haha. It does make me wonder about the future a bit. I guess I’ll be continuing to keep away from people. Not out of character for me anyway , though. A good thing I’m an introvert. I hope you’ll be ok down there. All the best.

          • That isn’t good to have a bad reaction. I wonder if there will be another vaccine developed that may suit you. I had a regular flu vaccine a week ago. My reaction was to sleep for over ten hours which is most unusual for me. It is good not to people much. One reason I live in the bush so I don’t have to have close contact with people. Apparently I am a shy extrovert

            • I’m hoping they develop one which doesn’t have PEG or Polysorbate in it. Currently Moderna, Pfizer and Astra Zeneca are not suitable. There are other therapies they are developing which look promising. Hmm. I wonder if your flu vaccine contained a different ingredient to usual or your body is a bit stressed. I had a different response to mine last year too. I’m so glad that at least I have a scrubby 1/2 acre block to live in here. I can’t even see my neighbours’ homes. I definitely need my space too. 🙂

  1. When your post popped up in my reader, I thought …. I don’t remember following this blog. Now I know why.
    Enjoyed the pictures and commentary. And will look forward to your next post in a couple of months. 😉

    • Haha. Yes, I’m sure most of my followers will be as puzzled as you when my post pops up in their feed. What is this blog? My blogging is very infrequent these days. Better than never at all I suppose. I try not to give up completely. My mental health is a challenge though. Thanks for commenting. Two months sounds a bit quick though! More like 6 months. Haha. All the best. 🙂

      • My blogging is too frequent these days. My followers probably say, “Ho Hum”. Leave a like and move on.
        Whether often or seldom, blogging to many offers help with their mental health. If I am satisfied with what I post, I am happy.

        • As you say, it’s about your own satisfaction. If that means posting frequently then there is nothing wrong with you doing that at all. Frequently or infrequently, it doesn’t matter really. Keep doing what helps with your own mental health. I used to write a great deal but developed a bit of a phobia to public expression. I’ve been exploring a few other outlets for some time now until I regain my confidence. Take care. 🙂

  2. Great writing, Jane, and superb photos again. So good to read these posts. Loved the bird gallery and the enormous carpet python. Fascinating how we share Brisbane suburbs with these ridiculously large pythons. They are real characters.

    I hope you get to find that Ghost Fungus one day! I have not seen one since that one I photographed for my blog, and even the log it perched on seems to have vanished – maybe destroyed by an army of mountain-bikers, an ever-growing thing in any bush reserve these days. If I ever find another one I will certainly let you know! I have never been to Sherwood Arboretum, must make a visit one day soon.

    Cheers – stay safe in these quite crazy times.
    Rob

    • Thanks very much, Rob. I just noticed some spelling mistakes in my blog post. Eek! Oh well. I’ll fix them up later. More and more these days I’m thankful to live in a city that has so many green spaces. As you say, it’s amazing how we share our suburbs with enormous pythons. I had a massive one in my ceiling for years, but sadly I think it’s been killed or moved on. I’d often hear deaths squeaks of rats in my ceiling as the python feasted. A great natural pest control! Such beautiful and interesting creatures.

      I hadn’t realised you’ve not been to Sherwood Arboretum. I’ve not actually been there for a few years now. I do hope it’s still got plenty of habitat left. The wetlands can be deafening when the ibis are breeding. I was astounded to see magpie geese there a few years ago. Unfortunately, it’s usually really busy on weekends and when play groups are there. Week days are best. I know the suburbs very well around there as I used to live in Sherwood for a few years. I’d take my baby boy to Sherwood Arboretum nearly every day.

      Hmmm. Sounds like the same thing is happening in some of my local reserves when it comes to mountain bikes. What a shame you’ve not been able to see ghost fungi again. It’s a great memory for you and Harry to have (apart from the scrub ticks!) Thanks for letting me share your photos, Rob. Loved reading your own adventure! It made me laugh. All the best. 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Marina. Haha. I love that we share a fascination for fungi! If only we could go on a fungi quest together. I still hope to find that elusive ghost fungi one day. If I do, I’ll be sure to share my experience with you in my blog. Hoping you are doing well there. All the best! 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Tracy. I’m always amazed by how much wildlife exists in Brisbane. It’s such a green city. I feel extremely grateful to have so many interactions with creatures so close to home. I love bees. Such precious insects. I hope you are coping ok during these tricky times and feel safe. All the best. 🙂

        • It’s really tough for field researchers at the moment under lockdown. University research in general is really suffering with reduced income from foreign students and lack of government support. My son just finished his PhD this year but has already done interviews for a career change away from his field of study partly due to lack of funding. Let’s hope for a much better 2022. 🙂

          • Firstly, congratulations to your son, Jane. That is a huge achievement.
            The under-funding and minuscule pandemic support for universities is short-sighted and plain wrong. We shall be poorer as a country for it. Yes, let’s hope for a better 2022.

    • Oh John, what a kind thing to say! Your comment brought tears to my eyes. Thank you. Your poetry brings comfort and joy to me and many others. Thanks for gifting your beautiful words and thoughts to the world. We all need hope, especially right now. I hope you are safe and well. My best to you. 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Susan. It is indeed a very special fungus, isn’t it? Can you imagine walking through a forest at night and suddenly seeing a ghostly glow in the distance? Maybe I will have that experience one day, but hopefully not in the same weather conditions as Robert and his son experienced. Now theirs was a true adventure. Hehe. Looking at my disorganised bunch of Sherwood photos, I am wondering if I have already included some of these ones in past posts. My hard drive really needs sorting out, as does my brain of late! Sherwood arboretum is a wonderful spot to visit, especially for birders. I do hope you are feeling safe and well over there. These are strange times. All the best. 🙂

  3. The word “mycological” sometimes reminds me of Mycroft, Sherlock Holmes’s brother. I take it you didn’t run into him during your nocturnal peregrination. The fungal word could also be parsed as “my co-logical,” referring to someone as logical as the speaker. That also opens the way for a sentence like “My co-logical mycological friend led me to see a ghost fungus.” May it come to pass.

    • Thanks Steve! I read the Sherlock Holmes mysteries as a child and throughly enjoyed the recent TV series so your mention of the link appeals. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “peregrination” in my writing even though it applies to most of my walks. It’s a wonderful word. I’m finding that my vocabulary seems to be shrinking recently (or at least I am finding it more difficult to access in my brain.) I assume it’s partly because I am not reading enough good quality literature. Scrolling through web news searching for the latest covid updates probably doesn’t help my writing or speaking proficiency. I’m not sure I’ve ever been called “logical” so I’m pleased you included the last 2 sentences! It would be very special if we could discover a ghost fungus together. Stay well and safe over there, Steve. Perhaps one day Covid will become a distant memory and you and Eve will grace our Australian shores again. I am still to view the extraordinary Western Australian wildflowers. Best wishes. 🙂

      • Yes, I do hope we’ll make it back to Australia one of these days. All we saw was Sydney and vicinity. I’ve read good things about the southern coast and some of the places in the far west, as you also mentioned.

        As for staying safe, we both had two shots of the Pfizer vaccine in March but the latest reports are saying that it’s not as effective against the delta variant and that therefore a third shot may soon be advised for people with compromised immune systems (not us) and people above a certain age (that’s us). Just when we thought that after a year and a half we could finally start taking some short trips again, the number of cases here surged again.

        With regard to peregrination, the word arose with the literal Latin sense of ‘through (per) the fields (agros)’. It morphed through Old French to give English the word pilgrim.

        • Yes, I’ve been watching the surge of cases in parts of the US again. It seems like it will be a long while before numbers are consistently low. A booster dose seems wise. Here in Australia we haven’t even got most of our population vaccinated with a first dose yet. I think we have less than 20% of the total population fully vaccinated! It’s ridiculous. Delta cases have surged in NSW with the whole state now in lockdown. We had a scare in my state of Queensland recently when we had multiple cases in several Brisbane schools but fortunately that seems to be well under control now. You can never be compacent with Covid though.

          Thank you for explaining the origins of peregrination. Etymology is always fascinating!

    • Thanks very much for your concern, Tom. I am hopeful that an alternative vaccine or therapy will be developed soon. I would like my adult children to be able to spend time with me without fearing they may be risking my health by giving me Covid. I’m in the same boat as many other people though who either can’t be vaccinated or are not eligible yet so I am not alone. Unfortunately, our Federal Government was extremely lax in ordering enough vaccines for the population and we are seriously lagging behind many nations. It’s such a shame as we did so well with our early lockdowns. A big concern is that Delta has now made its way into some vulnerable regional NSW Aboriginal communities. I hope this all passes soon. I’m still enjoying my garden and local creek here. There is always something to discover and appreciate closer to home if we look closely. I feel very thankful to live here (although the influx of cats eating my birds is testing my patience of late!) I wish you and your loved ones good health and safe times, Tom. All the best. 🙂

      • Cats are a real pest so I sympathise with you on that front.

        I am sorry about your Covid situation. As you say, Australia looked like a model to be followed but maybe the government let its wish not to spend any money get in the way of looking after its inhabitants. I hope that they can catch up.

        Thank you for your good wishes. Cases are rising here again so we need some luck, I think.

        • Thanks, Tom. If I get started on the failings of our current Federal Government, I may never stop. 🙂 I’m embarrassed about what the rest of the world must think of us regarding climate policy, the treatment of Indigenous people, the treatment of refugees etc. It’s appalling. They certainly don’t represent my views. If they’d taken up the offer of millions of doses by Pfizer early and listened to the pleas of various state governments to set up regional quarantine centres like the current one in Howard Springs in the Northern Territory, rather than relying on poorly ventilated hotel quarantine for returned overseas travellers we may not be in this current situation. Fortunately, I live in a state which has been willing to lockdown early with each new outbreak of Delta. The NSW state government was unwilling to impose stricter lockdown and did not move quickly enough and Delta has now got away from them. I do hope the cases don’t spiral again where you are and you remain safe, Tom.

  4. I can see why it would be such a special find Jane, Such beautiful luminescence ! Though a lovely showcase of river birds and the like. Certainly the fungi you did find was extraordinary to say the least and not a complete loss. Good to hear from you again my friend, I always enjoy your posts and your humorous narrative.:-)

    • Thanks very much, Ashley. It is indeed a very special fungus. Hopefully I’ll see the real thing one day. Sherwood arboretum is a fantastic place for bird watching. I’m sure you’d love it. I must head back there again some time. It has been a couple of years now I think even though it’s a short drive for me. I’ve stopped travelling to the University of Queensland on week days which was when I would often stop off at the arboretum. I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well during the latest lockdowns. All the best. 🙂

    • Heel erg bedankt, Marylou. Ik vind het heel leuk om mijn avonturen met jullie te delen. Sherwood forest is een goede plek om wilde dieren te zien. Ik hoop dat je daar veilig en wel bent. 🙂
      Thank you very much, Marylou. I really enjoy sharing my adventures with you. Sherwood forest is a good place to see wildlife. I hope you are safe and well there. 🙂

  5. Wonderful post. I remember escaping to the arboretum when we lived in Brisbane, a wonderful space! Also the comments/conversation is just as enlightening/entertaining. Mountain bikes and cats both a growing problem up on the range. Up here we have the escarpment park Redwood and while the arboretum was a Brisbane nature escape Redwood is my Toowoomba escape but now they want to put a competitive mountain bike trail through it. 😒
    At least QLD seems to have controlled the current outbreak, (can we just put Jeanette Young in charge of the vaccine rollout).

    • Thanks, Sharon! I think the arboretum really helped my mental health when I had my first baby. I’d been used to being around academic friends at my University but when I was one of the few people in my cohort to have a child and he was a very poor sleeper due to health problems, I felt quite isolated. I would try and take him out to parks every day and one of them was at the arboretum. He loved the birdlife and other critters (still does today) and I always went back home feeling better able to cope so I have really fond memories of the place. His father used to work at the research station near by so that was handy as well. Back then the wetland part had lots of domestic geese and ducks but that has changed to more native species like cormorants, egrets, magpie geese and grebes. I’m amazed by the number of turtles and dragonflies I see there. The carpet python was an exciting find too. I briefly saw a pacific baza one day but couldn’t get a photo of it. I haven’t been back for a couple of years though and things can change very quicky. I’m pleased you have good memories of the place as well. It’s very frustrating to see hordes of mountain bikers flying through some of the reserves. While I am a fan of cycling, I’ve seen a lot of destruction caused by popular trails through areas which support a lot of wildlife and plant species. I’ve noticed a big reduction in diversity. I hope they don’t put a competitive trail through Redwood. How disappointing! Jeanette Young is one of my heroes at the moment. Imagine if she had been in charge of our national vaccine rollout! I hope you and your loved ones stay well and safe out there. Delta is pretty scary at the moment. I’m very upset about it spreading out to regional NSW Indigenous communities. All the best. 🙂

  6. I watched the carpet python videos with extreme interest! I remember you talking about them being a boon to a backyard in keeping roof rats and other varmints under control. As usual, I read your whole post with a smile of delight on my face. I can always count on a good laugh reading your latest adventure.

    I hope you find the holy grail some day (night). You know how it will happen – when you least expect it!! You’ll probably be ill prepared (as usual) but somehow… you’ll pull it off. I just know you will!

    Glad to hear Lycra man is still out and about. It’s nice to know that some things remain the same in these chaotic times. Be well, Jane! I think of you often!

    • Thanks, Lori! I am very fond of carpet pythons and they really help to keep the rat population down in my area. Carpet pythons are common in Brisbane although we are quite concerned about some of the newer rat baits that people are using and how they are affecting birds of prey like owls and also reptiles like pythons. The second generation rat poison takes a while to kill rats/mice and while the animal is still moving around they are caught by birds and reptiles which are then affected by the poison and often get sick and die. I haven’t seen our resident python in a long while so I’m a bit concerned. He/she was enormous! They like to eat possums as well and we certainly had plenty of those.

      Haha. Yes, I think if I ever see ghost fungi, it will probably be totally unexpected, like most things seem to be. Luckily with fungi they can’t run away, so if I don’t have my camera I can return with it and grab another victim to accompany me at night. I’m not sure after the last failed adventure that Lycra Man will be available. He’s not agreed to go on any night walks since then (and that was 2015) so it will have to be some other poor suffering soul. Haha. What a shame you aren’t here for me to drag out at night! 😀

      I’m trying to immerse myself in old nature photo collections at the moment as the world news is very grim. Remembering some of the amusing incidents from the past gives me some relief. I’ll try to put them in writing so that others can laugh at me and my mistakes. I think we could all do with a few moments of escape from the sad/horrific events in the world right now. I hope you are coping with everything and feeling safe and well, Lori. Thanks for your lovely support of me as always. All my best. 🙂

      • Oh, I am afraid I’d be that sucker to go with you, but I’d be more for the daytime adventures – I’m not much of a night owl. Though, I suppose if the laughs were good enough I’d be tempted. 🤔 Ha ha! I understand about the world news. It’s been difficult for me to write. People have been dealing with catastrophic events for thousands of years… we too will manage. 🙂

  7. Hello Jane, so good to see a post from you again! I am sorry you never got to see the ghost fungi you were hoping to see but I find that planned expeditions hardly ever turn out the way I expect them to. Maybe one day, eh?…
    I’m also sorry you had such a bad reaction to the Covid jab. I hope they develop something for people with allergies soon because they are usually people with high risk infection, too. My aunt is allergic to egg and for many years she couldn’t have the flu jab because of the albumen content. Fortunately they have developed a vaccine with synthetic ingredients now. I had the Pfizer vaccine and had hardly any reaction to the first jab but was quite sick with vomiting and migraine after the second one.
    I really enjoyed seeing all your gorgeous photos taken at the Sherwood Arboretum. What a fantastic place!
    I hope you and your family are keeping well.
    Love and best wishes,
    Clare

    • Thanks very much, Clare. So lovely to hear from you and also to know that you’ve had your two Pfizer jabs, but I’m sorry the reaction to the second one was so bad. That seems to be what I’m hearing from some others too, especially the severe headache/migraine part. From the data in the NSW delta outbreak at the moment it really seems to help prevent hospitalisations and death, so I hope you will be safer now. I was excited about being able to be vaccinated and was a bit disappointed by the severe allergic reaction, but there are a lot of people with suppressed immune systems due to drug treatments who can’t get immune protection from vaccines so they are in the same boat as me. Next year my daughter will be coming back home to live with me while she works in a Brisbane hospital, so I hope there are no outbeaks there. I’m pleased all my family are either fully vaccinated or waiting on their second jab. As you say, planned expeditions often don’t give the expected results! Most of mine end up being like that anyway. Haha. I usually encounter special things when I least expect them, like the powerful owl experience. Yes, Sherwood arboretum is a fantastic place for seeing birds. I started going there way back in the 90s when my son was a baby. I’m come home recharged with a smile on my face and my little lad slept well afterwards! Always a bonus. Haha. Take good care of yourself, Clare. I do hope all your family are well. I often check the UK news for updates on weather and the Covid situation. My love and best wishes to you too. 🙂 x

  8. It may have taken me awhile, but I’m quite pleased I didn’t miss this!
    “When it comes to fungus identification I am an impatient sod…”Though I may not have found words quite this colorful 😊, I’m much the same when it comes to plants and sometimes even birds! I would likely never be so bold as to attempt fungus (or lichen for that matter.)I loved the bird shots. They’re simply marvelous. Though I have to admit I didn’t watch the snake. I’m pretty sure I never would/could have taken that picture of the python. I hate to imagine the hysteria that might have erupted simply from a glimpse, much less the composure to snap a shot or a video. 😵 Best not to expose myself to the moving beast.
    The moon reflected is simply wonderful in a ghostly sort of way. How fitting for your Ghost fungus expedition. And I can well imagine your motivation for this hunt! Extending much sympathy for your long suffering Lycra Man. 😏

    Just curious… would the Robert Ashdown’s image have taken special lens or lighting? It’s simply otherworldly.

    • Thanks very much, Gunta. Haha. Now I am a little worried that “sod” may mean something a little worse in the US than here in Australia. Hopefully it’s not a profanity of sorts! Here it’s a pretty mild description…I think. I’ve been known to make errors like that before though! My mother often used a few words that when I uttered them around friends caused laughter! “Knob” is one example. She used “big knob” to describe a rich or influential “posh” person (she came from a very poor family.) It had an entirely different meaning among my teenage cohort at school though which I discovered to my embarrassment when I used it around some male friends! I think I spent much of my teenage years being very red-faced from regular innocent gaffes. Sherwood Arboretum will always hold fond memories for me and of course is a great spot for birding. I’m not sure why I expected it should have lots of lighting at night. It was indeed quite spooky with the clouds part-way over the moon and eerie reflections in the water. Yes, poor Lycra Man. I’ve tortured him a great deal over the years! Haha. I am a technophobe and still learning how to use my bridging camera. I don’t even have a DSLR! So I wouldn’t actually know what special settings Robert used to take those shots. He’s been photographing wildlife for many years and his pictures are often used on information boards, brochures and websites for national parks here. He’s even had his dragonfly/damselfly photos used on an Australian stamp in recent years. I will ask him but the terminology will probably be beyond my understanding. I know the ghost fungi shots were taken under extremely challenging weather conditions though. I hope you are well and are in a safe location there. I regularly check news reports of weather and covid updates for the US and other countries. All my best. 🙂

      • Ahhh my dear Jane, I’m not quite sure, but the only meaning for ‘sod’ that I’m aware of here in the states is when referring to a chunk of earth with specially raised grass for our over-pampered lawns. Best not to get me started on what a travesty they are! 🤭 I’ve done enough reading and watched enough BBC to have noticed other meanings, but I believe even those are pretty tame. Though perhaps once considered unladylike.

        But here’s an interesting tidbit for you… California (specifically San Francisco) has a part of town referred to as “Nob Hill”… there’s a bit of an old-fashioned meaning to nob as referring to someone rather posh. The same way your mother used it: “to describe a rich or influential “posh” person.” But I can well imagine the cause of your embarrassment! 😉

        Not to worry about asking Robert the settings. I suppose it was simply idle curiosity on my part. It’s not likely my old brain will actually know what to do if I were told anyway. How lovely to know someone with the sort of talent you describe.

        We are doing quite well here. So far, we’ve managed to avoid any fire or smoke in our neighborhood. We are close enough to the Pacific Ocean to be blessed by its moderate climate. Of course, if there’s an earthquake or tsunami we may have to pay for living in such idyllic surroundings. We have had a very alarming spike in Covid Delta variant break out in our small community. We really don’t have much in the way of medical facilities and it seems that hospitals are filling up rapidly with the unmasked and unvaccinated mob. Luckily we have our creek with its wildlife to entertain us and we rarely go out.

        All in all, your blogging and photos are not too bad for a self-proclaimed technophobe! 😧 😏

        • Thanks, Gunta! Reassuring to read about that the old fashioned meaning of “Nob” exists somewhere else besides my own family! So I also just realised that I got the spelling wrong as well. It’s not “knob” as in doorknob. Haha.
          I do hope you don’t have any earthquakes or tsunamis! I’m glad you live in such beautiful natural surroundings to enjoy during this Pandemic and I hope you remain well and don’t require medical care while your medical facilities are so stretched. My daughter works in a busy public hospital and my fear is that Delta will spread through my state and overwhelm the already under-resourced systems. Hopefully we can avoid the same numbers that are devastating our neighbouring state and other countries. You are too kind about my blogging skills. Thank you. 🙂

  9. Oh, Jane, you had me giggling and completely hooked in that first paragraph. I love it when you throw caution to the wind. I’ve never heard of ghost fungi before, and must admit, I would have done exactly the same as you. I do see the humour in your retelling of your disappointing expedition and misidentification. How incredible it would have been if you were right, though. They are spectacular.

    • Thanks, Jolandi! Your comment made my day and put a smile on my face. I’d hoped that the blog post might give a little amusement to others in these challenging times. I’m so pleased it gave you a giggle. Remembering that night makes me laugh. I do get quite blinkered when I’m on a “quest” and am not as practical as usual. Normally, I’m known as being the boring health and safety fanatic in the family and prepare for all sorts of eventualities, but sometimes the draw of an exciting nature find can have me going to the other extreme. My blog posts reflect that latter extreme I think. Most people would find the majority of my life rather mundane and safe and I’m sure are a little disappointmented when they finally meet me face to face. Haha. I hope you are doing ok at the moment? I know life is pretty challenging right now. Take good care of yourself. All the best. 🙂

      • How refreshing that you can throw all of your normal precautions overboard, Jane. Within that, I think, lies the fun and adventure. So good on you.
        I’m well, and love living on our land in Portugal. Despite the various challenges Covid presents, life is really good, and I have nothing to complain about.
        Stay well, and I hope there are many more of these wonderful adventures to share. I love them.

        • Thanks Jolandi. I’m pleased you are enjoying Portugal. I have an extremely diverse heritage and some of my ancestors lived in Portugal and Spain for many years. Apparently there is even a statue in Portugal of a distant grandfather riding a horse. Unfortunately, some aspects of his life I am not at all comfortable with so I won’t mention his name! I’ve seen shots of the beautiful coastline and have noticed the climate can be very pleasant. I even considered a long term house sit on a farm over there in pre-covid times! Perhaps one day I may find my way over there. For the moment, I’m thankful to be relatively safe in my little home here surrounded by trees and enjoying the lovely Queensland blue skies. I’ve got a few little adventures to share but it’s often hard to know if they’d appeal to others. Sometimes I find things very exciting that others find deadly boring. Haha. I hope you stay well and continue to enjoy your land there. 🙂

          • How fascinating that you have a link with Portugal, Jane. I honestly do not think that we should identify too closely with our ancestors. They were products of the world they lived in and there is no need to take on the horrors of their legacy by feeling ashamed. It would be a bit disconcerting if we were proud of it, but apart from that, I think we should live our own lives in a way that reflects our values without shame. Anyway, that’s just my philosophy in order to stay sane and live the best I can with what I have and know. 🙂 I love your stories, so keep sharing them. And at some point in time I would be in need for someone to house sit, so keep that in mind if you ever post-Covid decide to travel to Portugal. In the meantime, enjoy your adventures closer to home.

            • Wise words about ancestors, Jolandi, and I’ll try to remember that. Thank you. 🙂 I find it very interesting when I look back at my ancestry how often the conquerors became the conquered and vice versa, and sometimes people from opposing sides came together and got married, often being shunned and cut off from family. I love that many of my ancestors were Romeo and Juliet couples of their time. Fortunately, they didn’t meet the same demise as those two Shakespearian characters though, otherwise I wouldn’t be here today. One notable set of distant grandparents from my family tree were disinherited and travelled to Australia to start a new life – the daughter of a Protestant English monarch (through an unrecognised marriage with a Catholic woman) eloped with the son of a Jewish gamekeeper on an estate. Rebels…or maybe just overtaken by love or lust. Haha. How kind of you to suggest that I housesit for you, Jolandi. Thank you. Post-covid times still seem so very far away at the moment but one day they will come. 🙂

              • Oh my goodness, how fascinating, Jane. Sounds like you could write a couple of historical fiction/romance novels about your family history.
                Like you say, post-Covid still feels like many years away. Take care and stay well.

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