FUNGI often get overlooked, which is a shame because they are fascinating and come in so many different forms, and only last week the stunning colour from a mass of turkeytail fungus growing on a log near Tillicoultry was enough to stop me in my tracks.

Turkeytail is a common winter bracket fungus, but I don’t think I has ever found such a large clump as this one before, growing in dense tiers on the surface of the decaying bark.

The contrast between the white undersides and the variably tinted topside of the brackets was most striking.

So compelling is the concentric colour on the bracket cap that at one time turkeytail fungus was popularly used as a table decoration and for adorning hats.

On this same log, there was also some hairy curtain crust fungus, which looks similar to turkeytail but is smaller and paler.

Fungi often have such marvellous names and I can see how turkeytail is so-called, but hairy curtain crust is one that I have to admit confounds me.

It had been a while since I had taken this walk through the Harviestoun estate between Dollar and Tillicoultry and as well as the fungi, there was plenty of other wildlife to see, including parties of blue and coal tits bounding their way along a hedgerow.

A familiar chirruping floated across the breeze and suddenly a hedge next to me heaved with a group of long-tailed tits that had descended upon it.

They are sometimes termed as ‘flying lollipops’, which I think is a most apt way for describing these wee bundles of feathery fluff.

Long-tailed tits seem commoner than ever nowadays and I reckon their fortunes have been helped by garden bird feeders, which helps see them through prolonged periods of cold weather.

The long-tails disappeared almost as quick as they had arrived, undulating their way towards a distant hawthorn, and the air fell quiet once more.