15th November 2015 – Leigh Woods, Bristol

Present: Jenny Bennett, Andrew Branson, Claire Halpin, David Morris, Sharon Pilkington, Gary Powell, Alan Rayner, Marion Rayner, Carol Taylor, John Taylor.

Ten keen bryologists investigated Nightingale Valley, a wooded mini-gorge at the southern end of Leigh Woods on the south (Somerset) side of the Avon Gorge. The topography offered a welcome respite from high winds and provided much bryological interest from species of limestone rocks and cliffs, woodland and decaying fallen wood. Together, the group added no fewer than 16 new species to a list for the area made in 2014, edging the total number over 100. Highlights included the ‘black graffiti liverwort’ Marchesinia mackaii, thriving in several places on shaded natural rock outcrops on the side of the valley, Plasteurhynchium striatulum and Mnium stellare. Marion made the best find of the day when her sharp eyes picked out a small but dense patch of the humidity-demanding liverwort Riccardia palmata growing on a single decaying log at the bottom of the valley. This very western and northern species has not been found in North Somerset before.

Marchesinia mackai

Later we risked life and limb dodging speeding cyclists on the river path to search habitats below the famous Clifton Bridge for additional species. Here we found a wall and limestone outcrop which harboured typical light-demanding species such as Trichostomum crispulum. On a wall a large patch of Scorpiurium circinatum was nearly dismissed as just another anonymous-looking pleurocarp as it was wet from recent rain and its shoots lacked the distinctive worm-like appearance that normally attract the eye.

Sharon Pilkington


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