Jan Haseler led a walk across Silchester Common and round the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s Upper Inhams Copse reserve on Saturday 8 April. It was a warm, sunny day and a wall of scent from the Gorse hit people as they started out across the Common. The Trust’s Dexter cattle were grazing nearby. There were pink flowers on the Bilberry plants, Willow Warblers were singing and a bright green beetle flew up from path. The route crossed two stream valleys, then came to a wooded section where the leaves of Lily-of-the-valley were coming up beside the path. Continuing down into a wooded stream valley, a stand of leafless Aspens looked pale and skeletal. Spring flowers here included Wood-sorrel, Primrose, Common Dog-violet, Wood Anemone, Solomon’s-seal and Greater Stitchwort.
At the far side of the Common, the walk continued down into Upper Inhams Copse. At a damper stretch where a stream crossed the path, Bugle, Yellow Pimpernel, Moschatel and a small frog were spotted. Some of the group went into the adjoining damp meadow, where the pale feathery leaf spikes of Tubular Water-dropwort could be seen in one of the wet ditches. Marsh Marigolds were in flower, an Orange-tip egg was spotted on a Cuckooflower plant and a Large Red Damselfly was seen. The walk continued round the copse. Although it was several weeks before their usual flowering time, Bluebells were beginning to create a carpet of blue. The leaves of Pignut and more Solomon’s-seal plants were seen. Speckled Wood, Holly Blue and Brimstone butterflies were flying in the sunshine. A little way back from the path, a number of deep pink Oxalis flowers were found, which sparked a debate as to whether they were native or garden escapes. Subsequently, Tony Mundell, the Botanical Recorder for North Hampshire, confirmed that they were a rare colour form of the native Wood-sorrel Oxalis acetosella. The return route forded the stream, then followed the track back up through Lord’s Wood to Impstone Road.
Pictures by Rob Stallard