The wide range of colours of mushrooms and toadstools is well-known.
Today's photo shows a common red species often found in eucalypt forests at this time of the year.
Despite its rather eye-catching appearance, and its comparative abundance, it does not seem to have gained a common name.
It is one of a group of white-gilled and white-stemmed fungi known as russulas. To fungi enthusiasts it is Russula persanguinea.
The photo shows typical specimens - with a crack or two, and a few blemishes on the cap.
Perhaps a wallaby, rat or possum has had a taste.
Most local specimens are less than 50mm across, but larger ones are sometimes found. Stems are only a few centimetres tall.
Both the cap and the stem are brittle, breaking rather than bending when handled.
The colour of the cap varies from bright red to dull pink. Those in the photo are typical of most local specimens - a watery-red, rather than bright red.
Younger specimens can be brighter.
Key identification features for this species are the white stem (not pinkish), uniform coloured cap, and white gills without a blending of any other colour.
The species is not regarded as edible.
It invariably grows among leaf and twig litter in forests, where it has an underground mycorrhizal association with the eucalypt trees.
The trees and the fungus benefit from this. There are several species in the russula group, varying in colour from purplish to green-capped, as well as red.
Most have white gills and white or pastel stems, but there are variations.
Spores are white or cream, whatever the cap or gill colour.
The cap is not sticky. Similar toadstools can be found in the northern hemisphere, though the species pictured is found only in Australia and New Zealand.
Another red fungus with white gills and stem is the fly agaric - a common toadstool found under or near introduced trees such as pines and birches.
It is much larger than those pictured, it is a richer orange-red colour, and it has numerous raised white spots on its cap.
A recent pleasant surprise was the sighting of a pair of speckled warblers in bushland near Clunes.
This species is now rather rare.
The pair were accompanying buff-rumped thornbills.
Nearby were other small birds such as white-throated treecreeper, grey fantail, fairy wrens, pardalotes and weebills.
It is worth stopping for a look when a few birds are found together in autumn and winter.
The busy birds seem to attract more birds as they move gradually throughout the forest.
NATURE QUERIES ANSWERED
In the car headlights, we saw a tawny frogmouth on the ground. We think it must have flown to the ground to catch its prey, but we couldn't see anything in its beak. What do tawny frogmouths eat?
The tawny frogmouth feeds on the ground, flying down from its perch to catch moths, beetles, mice, crickets, frogs and similar creatures.
Rain has probably made it easier for frogmouths to find some of the larger moths, many of which emerge with autumn rains.
Some frogmouths have learned to locate their prey at lighted windows and street lights.
Like kookaburras, they sight their prey from a perch, then fly down for the catch.
They are sometimes killed by cars when swooping down to catch small animals illuminated by headlights.
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