Wessex Bryology Group Programme 2019-20

Our field meetings usually take place monthly from October to April so watch this space for the programme of meetings for the coming season.

We always try to include a good range of habitats and sites across Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset and Hampshire. A key aim of the group is to encourage those who are new to the subject to become more experienced and confident at identifying bryophytes. Beginners are most welcome at all our meetings. There is no formal membership or constitution and each person goes out at his/her own risk. The only equipment needed is a hand lens (x10 or x20) and some paper packets for collecting specimens. Many of the sites we plan to visit include wet and muddy areas so boots are advisable. We will usually eat a packed lunch on site. All meetings start at 10.30am and finish between 3pm and 4pm.

Contact: Andrew Branson tel: 01747 838223; e-mail andrew(at)3alpacas.co.uk or Sharon Pilkington tel: 01373 827074/07801 627449; e-mail: sharon.pilkington1(at)btinternet.com. Unless stated there is no need to book, but in the event of snow/ treacherous driving conditions, please call Andrew or Sharon to check the meeting is going ahead.

Sunday 17th November 2019 – Nettlecombe Court, Monksilver, S. Somerset

Nettlecombe Court and the surrounding area has been well recorded, but this eastern edge of the Exmoor National Park, has some excellent habitat and no doubt some surprising finds will be made. In the past there have been records for species such as Habrodon perpusillus, Leptodon smithii and Schistostega pennata, which we hope to see again.

The turning for Nettlecombe Court is off the B3188 at Woodford, north of Monksilver. We have permission to park in front of Nettlecombe Court at ST 0565 3773.

Leader: Jeff Bates

Sunday 8th December 2019 – Tadnoll and Winfrith Heath Reserve, Dorset

This extensive reserve in south Dorset includes areas of dry and wet heath, wet meadows and a chalk stream.  This will be a good chance to explore this varied habitat, which includes a good range of Sphagnum species, as well as classic species of bogs and flushes, some of which have a calcareous influence.

Park at SY 8047 8623, just past the first junction on Gatmore Road, which is opposite the Red Lion pub on the A352 at Winfrith Newburgh, west of Wool. Wellingtons are strongly advised, as it will be wet under foot in places.

Leader: Andrew Branson

Sunday 12th January 2020 – Bradford-on-Avon and Avoncliff, S. Wiltshire

The area between Bradford-on-Avon and Avoncliff has not been surveyed well for its bryophytes but should be interesting. Habitats include riverside trees and bridges, scrub, drystone walls, old limestone woodland and the Kennet & Avon Canal. Barton Bridge was the first place the rare moss Dialytrichia saxicola was found on the River Avon several years ago and we should see this species and many others.

Meet at the western (river) end of the large station pay-and-display car park in Bradford-on-Avon at ST 8234 6065. The path along the riverbank can get very muddy so wellies are recommended.

Leader: Sharon Pilkington

Sunday 16th February 2020 – Midsomer Norton, N. Somerset

Midsomer Norton lies at the heart of the former North Somerset coalfield and old colliery tips are a distinctive feature of the town’s skyline. One of the largest is in the town centre and supports populations of calcifuge species that are rarely seen in N. Somerset. A recent visit produced three new liverwort vice-county records and it is a good place to see Lophocolea semiteres, an increasing species. If time allows we can also explore epiphyte-rich trees and a shallow river nearby.

Meet in the free South Road Car Park at ST 6658 5414.

Leader: Sharon Pilkington

Sunday 22nd March 2020 – Velvet Bottom and Long Wood, N. Somerset

Velvet Bottom forms part of the large Cheddar Gorge Complex SSSI. It has areas of lead mine waste, drystone walls, natural rock outcrops and heath and has not been explored properly for its bryophyte interest. Similar habitat at nearby Blackmoor has Ptychomitrium polyphyllum, Bryum donianum and Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens. Nearby Long Wood is a lovely steep-sided limestone woodland with a stream and is luxuriantly mossy. There should be much to find.

Park near Charterhouse in the big layby along a minor road at ST 5034 5550.

Leader: Sharon Pilkington