Wax-cap Fungus (Hygrocybe spadicea)
One of the first laws of species identification is the principle that statistically you are more likely to see a common species than a rare one and so if, if in doubt, err on the side of the common species.
One sunny afternoon in December 2012 I was walking along the cliff tops at Durlston Country Park when I happened across this lovely, shiny wax-cap fungus. I am no expert in fungi and I certainly did not recognise this one and so I took a photograph with a view to idenifying it later. I often do this only to find that it is impossible to be sure which species it is as there are so many that look so similar. I have two field guides to fungi and I could not find this one in the first but found it in the second. I say 'found it', I was pretty sure from the illustration and the description it was Hygrocybe spadicea but it indicated it was an uncommon species in Britain which put me off somewhat! However, it being found only in pastures on limestone or basalt and pasture on limestone is exactly what you find on the Dorset coast at Durlston I plumped for it. Subsequently I have discovered from the County Recorder that this species has not been recorded in Dorset before and it is a nationally very scarce species.
Now, I do not claim any real credit for this discovery; it could have been found by anyone with enough interest in fungi to stop and look, but it does show that although you statistically you are more likely to see a common species you should also always expect the unexpected!
I have no idea whether it is edible but as it is such an attractive toadstool I think it is better left for others to see rather than to pick it for the table, there are plenty of mushrooms in your local supermarket to eat!
Find out more about the nature of Dorset at www.natureofdorset.co.uk