Sean O’Leary led a walk to look at mosses and liverworts on Saturday 11 March, starting from the King William pub at Hailley. It was a lovely sunny day. The route led up the track from the pub towards Warren Bank, a small BBOWT reserve with some fine chalk grassland. Early Dog-violets and Celandines were in flower beside the track, the leaves of Sanicle and Woodruff were seen, a Tawny Owl hooted and Skylarks were singing overhead. Woodland moss species such as Hypnum cupressiforme, Fissidens taxifoliius, Kindbergia praelonga and Brachythecium rutabulum were abundant and helped to demonstrate, to the delight of all, the beautiful structures of the moss capsule, with the minute peristome teeth which control the release of spores. Lophocea hetrophylla was also found in fruit, demonstrating the very different spore capsule typical of liverworts.
In the more open grassland at Warren Bank, Scleropodium purum, Homalothecium lutescens and Calliergonella cuspidata were found. Hands and knees searching amongst the ant hills yielded Weissia controversa. It was observed that the Wild Thyme was growing on the south side of the ant hills. There were a number of newly-emerged Bloody-nosed Beetles, including a mating pair. Big queen Bumblebees were on the wing, Hairy Violet flowers dotted the turf and to everyone’s great surprise, a Barn Owl flew out of a nest box.
Pictures by Rob Stallard, Sue White and Laurie Haseler