When I saw this, I thought I recognised it from long before I started trying to take a serious interest in fungi. "That's a cushion bracket", I thought, and iNaturalist seems to agree with me, except that nobody has agreed (or disagreed) with my identification. But when I came to submit the record on Naturespot, the identification difficulty of Phellinus pomaceus was flagged red(!) and I would need a microscope (although if I had a microscope, I wouldn't know what I was looking for). So instead of submitting it as a record, I thought I would just ask if anybody would like to comment on what this photo may be of...
Well if it's a red camera species, it cannot reliably identifed from normal photos (photos taken down a microscope are a different matter!), whatever people may say on the Internet. That's the advantage of having the records you submit here checked by experts.
That looks extremely similar to bracket fungi i'm seeing at Thornton Res. The notes under Cushion Bracket say on NS say "In the comments box, state the key or ID method used and describe the size and identifying characters."
Can you (AJ, sorry not sure of your first name) point me in the direction of a good key to use.
Also, some guide to buying and using microscopes for ID'ing fungi (sounds like you need to be able to photograph through the microscope to from your comment above).
There are some good books on fungi, the best is probably Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain & Europe Volumes 1 & 2 by Geoffrey Kibby. Sadly, not cheap!
Fungal identification is based mostly on lookind at (and measuring) the spores. A compound (rather than a stereo) microscope is needed for this.
A very quick glance at the internet suggests that buying a compound microscope, with a camera attachment - or is just hand-held practical?), is a little daunting financially(!) I did say that I wouldn't know what I was looking for if I did have a microscope - and I realise now from what you say that it will more likely be the expert who knows what to look for. That does prompt me to ask though whether you can take a photo down a compound microscope which conveys to the expert the extra value given by the microscope's being compound I imagine you just take a photo down one of the lenses and relay in words what you have learned from the stereo nature of the image.
I have already bought Paul Sterry: Fungi of Britain and Northern Europe, Roger Phillips: Mushrooms, and the Chatto Nature Guide: Mushrooms and Fungi (sic). I wonder whether that will be enough. Not for identifying by spores, I fear.
To be honest, I am not sure how far I want to go in this direction. Yes, I find fungi fascinating and want to know better what to look for (and feel, smell and taste for). I want to carry on submitting records of fungi to Naturespot but I hope that I am not being a nuisance submitting so many which cannot be verified (about 8 so far...). There are, however, severe financial constraints.
If you look at the camera icons on each species page, you'll be able to identify all those with green icons with just photos - remember to include the gills and stem as well as the cap from the top. You may also be able to identify amber icon species depending on how much information you give with each record, e.g. if a fungus is growing on a particular species of host tree (you may need a photo of the tree to verify this).