13 keen bryologists met on a beautiful sunny, definitely spring-like day at Swift’s Hill Wildlife Trust reserve near Slad in Gloucestershire. Later joined by Gary to give a total of 14 attendees, this was probably a record for the group. Despite our misgivings about parking, there was no problem at all – we must have beaten the dogwalkers for once!
We welcomed a couple of completely new members: Lynsey and Alasdair, some recent members who remain undaunted (well done Jean), and several regular members of the group.
Progress up the hill was slow, looking at and comparing common limestone and neutral grassland species: Pseudoscleropodium purum and Entodon concinnus, Homalothecium lutescens, Hylocomiadelphus triquetrus (was Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus) and R. squarrosus. Ctenidium molluscum was common, and a few people collected Thuidium specimens – probably T. tamariscinum – in the hope of finding the rarer calcicole T. assimile. There were several bare stony patches with acrocarps such as Trichostomum crispulum, Bryoerythrophyllum recurvirostrum, a Tortella (still to be determined), lots of Weissia with frustratingly immature capsules… We contemplated climbing the hill towards the more exposed top, but opted to head towards the more sheltered quarry instead, thoughts of lunch beginning to intrude. A grassy plateau provided the perfect lunch spot, before making for the quarry.
Sharon made her way along the base of the quarry ‘wall’, recording Gymnostomum viridulum and Eucladium verticillatum amongst others. Some of us pottered around the rocks at the bottom, finding calcicoles like Tortula muralis, Grimmia pulvinata, Schistidium crassipilum and some beautiful patches of Scapania aspera. Yet others searched the spoil heaps and collected an interesting-looking Weissia with sessile capsules (probably W. angustifolia). George had earlier spotted a Bryum that Sharon thought a good candidate for B. torquescens (looks like B. capillare but doesn’t look quite so corkscrew-curled when dry) – and more of this Bryum was found at the quarry, this time with capsules.
Once again we decided against climbing the hill in favour of a look at the woodland next to the reserve (now known as Laurie Lee wood, after the ‘Cider with Rosie’ author). Walking down the track to the entrance, Sharon and George spotted what might be the bryophyte of the day, Campylophyllopsis calcarea, fruiting and looking extremely happy on soil and roots around the base of a large tree. It was also spotted on a collapsed stone wall just inside the wood, so obviously likes the habitat here. Also found in fair abundance in the woodland was a pleurocarp which we think might be the elusive Brachytheciastrum velutinum – elusive to most of us anyway, although the Field Guide calls it common! Either we’re overlooking it, or it is not as common in our area as in some.
The woodland also added a few liverwort species to our list for the day, including Plagiochila porelloides, Lophocolea bidentata and L. heterophylla, and Lepidozia reptans. After an hour, we seemed to reach a natural finish to the day and so headed back to the cars along the lane.
More photos and the species list to be added once specimens are confirmed.
Claire Halpin, February 2022Download records