Friday, 30 January 2015

Avoncliff report 22nd January 2015

Bath Nats meeting at Avoncliff, Thursday 22nd January 2015

Fourteen of us gathered on a cold, atmospheric morning teetering between mist and hazy sunshine. Unfortunately, as we arrived we discovered that Avoncliff car park was already almost full, which rather cramped our style to begin with. Eventually, after some toing and froing in, out, and up and down hill – and aided by the impromptu taxi service provided by Terry Doman – we gathered around the noticeboard next to the aqueduct as I outlined my plans for the morning.

First we walked west along the wooded path out into the open riverside meadow where we paused to admire the scenery – and a colourful outburst of Velvet Shank or Winter Mushroom (Flammulina velutipes) on a decaying willow trunk, before returning the way we’d come. Along the path I pointed out a variety of bryophytes and fungi. The latter included some fine, velvety specimens of Jelly Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae) and the uncommon bracket fungus, Cerrena unicolor, which was difficult to spot at first, due to its worn down black pileus, but revealed its beautiful labyrinthine to toothed spore-producing surface when turned upside-down. Meanwhile, Terry Doman pointed out a micro-moth larva guzzling its way through one of the brown, stripe-like sori on the underside of a blade of Hart’s-tongue fern (Phyllitis scolopendrium).

Next we walked east, along the canal, after pausing by the weir, where a heron was standing sentry. We crossed the footbridge opposite the sewage farm, then climbed gently uphill through field and mossy, rock-strewn woodland to the steep road back down into Avoncliff, where we ended our walk almost on schedule.

Alan Rayner

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tree Gazing Trail, Royal Victoria Park, Bath; 10th January 2015 Led by Alan Rayner and Kate Souter

In our first Nats field trip of 2015, those sixteen of us, both young and less young, who ventured out following the storms were rewarded with blue skies, majestic trees and the opportunity to get close to flora and fauna on display in the depths of winter.  As on our safari in May 2014 we followed ‘The Tree Gazing Trail’ developed by the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) in partnership with Mark Cassidy, BNES Arboricultural Officer. 

The walk began with a close inspection of the mosses to be found in the exposed roots of the copper beech (Fagus sylvatica purpurea) the first tree of the walk and a Victorian speciality.  The tallest tree in Victoria Park, the London plane (Platanus x hispanica) provided an opportunity to examine the moss and lichen making their home in the peeling bark. Windfall proved a helpful way of examining lichen including Physcia adscendens, which can be distinguished by the whiskers on its helmet like ends.  Our exploration was interrupted by the chattering of a flock of redwing (Turdus iliacus). Further wildlife encounters delighted the group: we were entertained by an extremely tame grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) in the dell that was quite keen to approach us in search of food.  Robins (Erithacus rubecula) were also keen to make their presence known and seemed unafraid of the human interlopers.  It was a real treat to be so close to our feathery friends.  Crataegus monogyna ‘Biflora’ it flowers twice a year once in May and again around December. Interestingly the high winds had scattered the fruit of the Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree); both male and female trees are located towards the end of the trail.  The fruit is quite noxious in more ways than one.  It has a distinctive smell, some describe it as being rather like dog faeces, and the skin for the unfortunate 30% can cause a rather nasty reaction! Definitely one to be approach with caution!!
We were delighted to see the Glastonbury thorn(Left) in flower; living up to the name of

In summary, a glorious afternoon full of surprises and mid-winter delights.

Kate Souter 

Saturday, 3 January 2015


Dear Bath Nats,
Thank you for turning out in such good numbers for today’s AGM! It was a very enjoyable and vibrant meeting, I think, and thank you for your support and faith in me as President for another term.