Wednesday, 22 March 2017

19.3.2017 Gully Wood excursion,


 The day started with blustery winds and sideways drizzle but fortunately drier conditions prevailed by the time six Bath Nats members plus the owner of the wood, Judith Gradwell assembled in the wood.
Judith was able to tell us about the past and present management of the wood before we walked to the lower section to look at the stand of Broad-leaved Lime trees that occur here.
We then turned up the public footpath which was bordered by old Yew trees capping the steep slope with an extensive badger sett to the left.  Here Goldcrest were heard amongst the trees. The scene to the right was woodland backed by impressive cliff faces with the occasional huge fallen boulder. Here we looked at cramp balls (Daldinia concentrica ) on Ash and some Jelly Ear fungus (Auricularia auricula-judae) on Elder. The boulders and rock faces provided good opportunities to look at some of the mosses: Rambling Tail-moss (Anomodon viticulosus) and Foxtail Feather-moss (Thamnobryum alopecurum). Bolder members of the group scrambled up the slope to investigate a large cave.
Retracing our steps we followed the woodland ride north and stopped to see the effects of management- scalloped areas which had created more open conditions initially were now recolonising with ash seedlings.
As well as a wonderful bank of Primroses we noted some examples of more uncommon mosses characteristic of woodland banks on limestone: Frizzled Crisp-moss (Tortella tortuosa) and a very small patch of Spiral Extinguisher-moss (Encalypta streptocarpa).
The path here passes through an area of huge boulders on steep slopes and the presence of an oak with unusual epicormic growth added to the sense of mystery.
Reaching a boggy area Judith explained that this was a pond supplied by a spring which had previously been piped downhill for domestic purposes at Warleigh. The area above is a humid rock-scape and the mosses were noticeably luxuriant.  As well as the abundant Greater Featherwort (Plagiochila asplenioides) we were able to show the uncommon Bitter Scalewort (Porella arboris-vitae) which actually tastes bitter! It occurs here on a rock with a patch of brown lichen Leptogium lichenoides. A little further on the emerging shoots of bluebells hinted that a return visit in a few weeks would be rewarded.
Although the breezy weather precluded bird spotting we had a pleasant and informative walk in this  unexpected ‘woodland with cliffs’ which we had driven past for many years without exploring.



  • Looking for micro-moths amongst the ferns

Bitter Scalewort- Porella arboris

Marion Rayner 19.3.2017 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Timsbury Nat’s talk

On Monday 20th March at the Conygre Hall, North Road, Timsbury BA2 0JQ Mya-Rose Craig will be giving a talk on the wildlife found on Antarctica. The start time is 7.30 pm and admittance for non-members is £3.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

7-3-2017 River Avon circular walk – Bathampton to Batheaston:


Nineteen members joined me in the car park at The George, Bathampton, on a calm and sunny morning. Here, some saw a Buzzard being mobbed by Jackdaws and I heard and saw one Redwing. We encountered more corvid species along the first section of the walk; Carrion Crow and Magpie, and we spent a few minutes watching Rook activity at the small rookery in trees close to the Tollbridge. The river level was high and I listened out for any Kingfishers or Grey Wagtails to no avail, so we meandered along the shared cycle/footpath toward the Batheaston car park and most of the group saw a female Sparrowhawk heading across fields towards Bathampton Down (flap-flap-flap-flap – glide, on rounded wings). There were several Canada Geese and Moorhen feeding in the nearby field and we stopped near the bridge to listen to bird song, including Dunnock, Robin, and the three note “cooing” of the Collared Dove. Black-Headed Gulls and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull flew low over the river disturbing the Mallards.
We took a short break in the small walled garden by the car park where I found a Long-Tailed Tit in a quite open prickly bush and one of our party quickly noted that the bush contained its nest, a composition including lichen and moss, held together with spiders’ webs. It was wonderful to take a close look at the nest through telescopes; we kept a distance from the bird to cause as little disturbance as possible. We saw a female Blackcap with her russet-brown cap in ivy and a Goldfinch kindly sat up and sang its tinkling and twittering jumble of notes and I had a brief view of a male Chaffinch.
Heading out towards the round-a-bout at the end of the by-pass, we made a couple of stops to view the river and the Bathampton Meadows Avon Wildlife Trust reserve beyond. A Grey Heron and a male Teal were seen only briefly by a few members, as were a couple of Kingfishers in fast flight which I picked up initially on call (a short sharp high pitched whistle, often of two notes of slightly different pitch). Everyone saw the Cormorants sitting on top of the distant pylon but I think I was the only person to see a couple of Song Thrushes in flight before they disappeared into cover. Meanwhile, more Dunnocks were singing, the predominant songster during our walk. At the entrance to river-side apartments near the end of the by-pass we were delighted to watch a Goldcrest singing in the open; this tiny bird often moves about quickly and within the cover of ivy or in a coniferous tree so this was an excellent sighting.
The final stretch of the walk across fields, the railway line, and along the lane returning to Bathampton church and the pub was fairly uneventful. One member heard a Raven call, I heard a Buzzard “mew” and the squeaks of a small mammal, likely a field vole, were heard from dense grassy tussocks near the railway crossing. The small flock of Redwing I saw and heard the previous week had departed and in the churchyard, I pointed out the high-pitched, thin two-note song of the Coal Tit. Here ended a pleasant morning during which twenty-seven species were recorded.

Lucy Delve