17th April 2016 – Browne’s Folly, near Bath

Browne’s Folly is an Avon Wildlife Trust reserve just outside the village of Bathford. Apart from the folly itself (bryologically uninteresting) it is best known for its extensive honeycomb of oolitic limestone mines which are home to an important population of the rare Greater Horseshoe Bat.

On a gloriously sunny spring day, eleven bryologists turned up to help survey the site, which was last properly looked at in 2003. We took a path that followed the lower contours of the hill, through mature ash woodland. At first common species prevailed but things became more exciting as we entered a former quarry, with magnificent limestone cliffs and large boulders calved onto the woodland floor. The slopes were steep and there was much hilarious slipping about after heavy rain the day before. On and around the exposures were Seligeria pusilla, Eucladium verticillatum and Leiocolea turbinata. A small patch of Tortella inflexa, a scarce and rather subtle species, was found but did not impress many people.

Porella arboris vitae 0213cropped

Porella arboris-vitae

Several of us came across a large and beautiful patch of Porella arboris-vitae; several people had never seen this rather western species before and had fun with its distinctive peppery taste. A nearby jumble of large deeply shaded sloping rocks, were home to a considerable amount of fertile Hygrohypnum luridum, which, as usual in this region, was nowhere near a watercourse. A dingy acrocarp growing nearby generated avid discussion but later turned out to be Didymodon vinealis.

Then we emerged from woodland into bright sunshine, in a large former quarry below the folly. It is kept clear of trees and scrub by the trust and on the day we visited was very popular with families having picnics. This area supported more species, including Weissia controversa var. crispata, with its broad red nerve, Encalypta vulgaris, Hylocomium splendens and Scapania aspera.

Tortella nitida, a scarce saxicole in this area, was present on various rocks and a nice red patch of Nowellia curvifolia was found on a pile of damp, decomposing logs at the woodland edge. To the bemusement of the families picnicking nearby, we searched hard for Entodon concinnus, finally finding a good-sized patch growing in the shortest turf with a scruffy-looking Thuidium which turned out to be the uncommon T. assimile. On the way back an oak tree produced some more epiphytes, including Orthotrichum striatum, with its sharp leaves, entirely smooth capsules and sixteen peristome teeth.

Species recorded on the day in ST7966:
Amblystegium serpens
Anomodon viticulosus
Barbula convoluta
Barbula sardoa
Barbula unguiculata
Brachythecium rutabulum
Bryoerythrophyllum recurvirostrum
Bryum capillare
Bryum dichotomum
Bryum pallens
Calliergonella cuspidata
Campylopus introflexus
Ceratodon purpureus
Cirriphyllum crassinervium
Cirriphyllum piliferum
Cratoneuron filicinum
Cryphaea heteromalla
Cryphaea heteromalla
Ctenidium molluscum
Dicranum scoparium
Didymodon fallax
Didymodon sinuosus
Didymodon tophaceus
Didymodon vinealis
Ditrichum gracile
Encalypta streptocarpa
Encalypta vulgaris
Entodon concinnus
Eucladium verticillatum
Eurhynchium striatum
Fissidens dubius
Fissidens pusillus
Fissidens taxifolius
Frullania dilatata
Funaria hygrometrica
Grimmia pulvinata
Gyroweisia tenuis
Homalothecium lutescens
Homalothecium sericeum
Hygrohypnum luridum
Hylocomium splendens
Hypnum cupressiforme
Hypnum cupressiforme var. lacunosum
Isothecium myosuroides
Kindbergia praelonga
Leiocolea turbinata
Lophocolea bidentata
Lophocolea heterophylla
Metzgeria furcata
Metzgeria violacea
Mnium hornum
Neckera complanata
Neckera crispa
Nowellia curvifolia
Orthotrichum affine
Orthotrichum pulchellum
Orthotrichum striatum
Orthotrichum tenellum
Oxyrrhynchium hians
Oxyrrhynchium pumilum
Plagiochila asplenioides
Plagiochila porelloides
Plagiomnium rostratum
Plagiomnium undulatum
Plagiothecium succulentum
Polytrichastrum formosum
Porella arboris-vitae
Porella platyphylla
Pseudocrossidium hornschuchianum
Pseudoscleropodium purum
Radula complanata
Rhizomnium punctatum
Rhynchostegiella tenella
Rhynchostegium murale
Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus
Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus
Scapania aspera
Schistidium crassipilum
Seligeria pusilla
Syntrichia montana
Thamnobryum alopecurum
Thuidium assimile
Thuidium tamariscinum
Tortella inflexa
Tortella nitida
Tortula marginata
Tortula muralis
Trichostomum brachydontium
Trichostomum crispulum
Ulota bruchii
Ulota phyllantha
Weissia controversa var. crispata
Zygodon conoideus
Zygodon viridissimus