10th March: Dry Sandford Pit, Cothill
Leader: Peter Creed, (Nature Bureau)
A group of nine members and two visitors gathered in the Dry Sandford BBOWT Reserve car park where we were met by our expert guide, Peter Creed. The morning was bright, but chilly with a brisk, sometimes strong, wind. A few signs of Spring were apparent, in particular the white blossom of the Cherry Plum ( Prunus cerasifera) . Peter had planned a route of stops that perfectly complemented a previous visit to nearby Hitchcopse Pit, so there was little overlap. This report is structured by listing the key bryophyte species at each Stop.
Stop 1: Sandy Rockface
Bird's Claw Beard-moss (Barbula unguiculata), Rigid Beard-moss (Didymodon rigidulus), Bicoloured Bryum (Bryum dichotomum), Silky Wall Feather-moss (Homalothecium sericeum). Here Peter demonstrated the difference in habit from acrocarpous (tufted form) to pleurocarpous (mat forming with branches).
Stop 2: Exposed Rock by Fen
Rigid Beard-moss (Didymodon rigidulus), Revolute Beard-moss (Pseudocrossidium revolutum).
Stop 3: Within Fen
Peter collected some samples and brought them to us to avoid disturbing the delicate habitat. Fern- leaved Hook-moss (Cratoneuron filicinum), Intermediate Hook-moss (Scorpidium cossonii), Pointed Spear-moss (Calliergonella cuspidata), Maidenhair Pocket-moss (Fissidens adianthoides).
Stop 4 Sandy Bank with Ivy
Peter explained that this was the site of the newly arrived Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae), which while a solitary bee, as here, nests in hundreds in the sandy soil. T he Ivy Bee was first recorded in the UK in 2001, and has now been found in much of Southern England. Ivy is the main plant used by this bee for pollen. It is seen when Ivy is in flower, from early September to early November.
Stop 5: Level Grassland
Sand-hill Screw-moss (Syntrichia ruralis var ruralis).
Stop 6: Elder Tree
Green Yoke-moss (Zygodon viridissimus), Creeping Feather-moss (Amblystegium serpens), both typical epiphytes of tree trunks.
Stop 7 Waterside in Woody Area
Greasewort (Aneura pinguis), Jagged Germanderwort (Riccardia chamedryfolia), Dotted Thyme- moss (Rhizomnium punctatum).
Stop 8 Rock Beside Water
Woodsy Thyme-moss (Plagiomnium cuspidatum), a very rare moss.
Stop 9 Sandy Bank
Peter explained that in the summer this was a site of the Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) on which the Large Scabious Mining Bee (Andrena hattorfiana) forages. Equally this the site for the very rare Armed Nomad Bee (Nomada armata), which is a ‘cuckoo’ (cleptoparasite) on the Large Scabious Mining Bee, its ‘host’. Both bees have declined substantially. The Large Scabious Mining Bee forages almost exclusively on Field Scabious and Small Scabious (Scabiosa columbaria) , and so these plants are critical to the survival of both species. Adult Armed Nomad Bees fly from late June till early August, which coincides with the peak of activity of its host the Large Scabious Mining Bee, and the flowering of scabiouses.
Stop 10 Willow Trunk
Dilated Scalewort (Fullania dilitata), a common liverwort on trees. Minute Pouncewort (Cololejeunea minutissima), a minute rare liverwort not on site 10 years ago, but now slowly spreading north.
Stop 11 Ash Tree Trunk
Frizzled Pincushion (Ulota phyllantha), Lyell's Bristle-moss (Orthotrichum lyellii), Wood Bristle- moss (Orthotrichum affine).
The group then returned to the car park after an excellent and informative talk – some attendees said they knew nothing about bryophytes at the start and now knew a lot more. A total of 21 bryophytes had been identified – not bad for two hours. Thanks were passed to Peter and the group dispersed.
Report: Graham Bateman
- Mike and Felicity Jenkins, Alex and Carina Morris (visitors), Nigel and Caroline Gregory, Michael
Bloom, Eleanor Dangerfield, Lesley Bosley, John Killick, Graham Bateman.