Monday, 1 October 2012

Trip Report

“Nature in Georgian Bath”: Report on visit to Bath City Centre, led by Marion and Alan Rayner, 30th September 2012
Click here for Photos

Fourteen members gathered outside Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, Queen Square, on a cloudy but dry afternoon. It was not long before we encountered our first surprise: a grassy bank on the edge of Royal Victoria Park, riddled by what must have been thousands of Ivy Bees(Colletes hederae ) first recorded as new to Britain in 2001 ardently buzzing in and out of their burrows, with many a sexual encounter along the way! Many questions were asked – why here, why now? – but few were answered with any certainty. We moved on, eventually, 50 metres or so, and stood underneath an oak tree, gazing up into the canopy at some of the dead branches colonized by the wood-decaying basidiomycete fungus, Vuillemenia comedens. Alan told the story of how just such observations had led, over thirty years previously to a new understanding of tree decay, pioneered by himself and Lynne Boddy. We moved on a few yards and gathered around a stone monument on each side of which was a distinctive array of lichens and mosses. We climbed up to the gravel walk leading towards the Royal Crescent and examined velvety sprawls and cushions of mosses and the leafy liverwort, Lophocolea bidentata, covering a walled bank, conveniently located knee-high. Then, on ground outside the Georgian Garden, a blanket of the thalloid liverwort, Lunularia cruciata, covered in its crescent moon-shaped gemma cups and intermixed with a fine felt of the moss Kindbergia praelonga and moss-like flowering plant, common pearlwort, Sagina procumbens. Next was a poplar tree whose leaves were covered in spots of rust fungus and numerous cup galls and branches inhabited by goldcrests and long-tailed tits. By the side of the Royal Crescent was a line of lime trees with leaves darkened by sooty moulds, amidst which lurked spectacular scarlet and black pupae of Harlequin ladybirds. Then we walked along pavements with cracks filled with the silvery sheen of the moss Bryum argenteum and the liverwort, Marchantia polymorpha, and by trees covered in mosses and lichens following the rainwater drainage courses down their trunks and branches. And that was only the beginning of an afternoon that amply supported our view that a rich variety of wildlife can be found almost anywhere, with some experience of where to look, how to look and what to look for in any given situation. 

Thank you Marion and Alan

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