*Rains are always special events for nature photographers. Early spring rains mean desert wildflowers. Summer rains mean wildflowers in the high mountains. Finally, a wet autumn can mean mushrooms. Two groups of people carefully watch the mushroom season, the photographers and the micophages (read this as mushroom eaters). The latter overwhelmingly outnumber the former. When you are both, a good mushroom season is a special event.
For some reason, photographically, mushrooms in the deep forest remind us of sponges in the underwater world. Perhaps because both sponges and mushrooms have unusual color and form, and are found in what is for us an appealing environment. The mushroom we have chosen for photo of the month is a favorite with nature photographers. This is the Amanita muscaria, or Fly Agaric. The mushroom is toxic, but because of its color and form, is hard to mistake for any edible species.
It is not easy, at least in the forest environment, to find intact mushrooms to photograph. In the forest regions around Blaine Basin and the Blue Lakes Trail in the San Juan Mountains, a great number of these mushrooms have been 'nibbled' around the margins. We have heard it rumored that squirrels love to nip the edges of the Fly Agaric, enjoying the effect. We have seen many nibbled specimens, but have never came upon any animal in the act.
If you are, like us, intrigued by unusual beauty of forest mushrooms, be sure to visit Taylor F. Lockwood's excellent website