Robert, Phil and I spent much of today looking for mosses and liverworts in Ringstead Downs, led in our quest by friendly local bryophyte expert Julia Masson. As we are at that early stage of learning when it takes about 1000 times as long to identify a species as it does to find one, we quickly amassed enough specimens for many, many hours of work. Sat at a convenient, if decidedly ill-placed table, given the windy conditions, Julia repeatedly guided us through the key and we clocked up a modest tally of species new to each of us. We confidently identified Common Feather-moss Kindbergia praelonga and Rough-stalked Feather-moss Brachythecium rutabulum as the abundant species of both grassy and rocky areas and of the many fallen logs at the west end of the reserve. We also found a patch of Cypress-leaved Plait-moss Hypnum cupressiforme on a log, a large patch of Forked Veilwort, Metzgeria furcata on a sycamore trunk, Bifid Crestwort Lophocolea bidentata, on the chalk cliff (this liverwort smells strongly of earth), together with Many-fruited Thyme-moss Plagiomnium affine) and what were probably Capillary Thread-moss Bryum capillare and Creeping Feather-moss Amblystegium serpens on a rock at the base of the cliff. In the arable field we identified Bird's-claw Beard-moss Barbula unguiculata whilst on the open, south-facing downs we found Yellow Feather-moss Homolothecium lutescens, Neat Feather-moss Pseudoscleropodium purum and Common Pocket-moss Fissidens taxifolius. Colour was added by numerous flowering Common Field Speedwell and by a single flower of Ground Ivy.
Robert and I then looked, successfully, for the larvae of some mining fly that lives in Stinking Hellebores and unsuccessfully (yet again) for the Stonechats on the beach. 5 Snow Bunting were mixed in with about 30 Linnets on the salt marsh.
Forked Veilwort, Metzgeria furcata on a Sycamore trunk, Ringstead Downs, 8th February 2014
Signs of Woodpecker (presumably Great-spotted) activity in the Downs, 8th February 2014
Common Field Speedwell, Ringstead Downs, 8th February 2014
Neat Feather Moss Pseudoscleropodium purum, Ringstead Downs, 8th February 2014
Common Pocket-moss Fissidens taxifolius, Ringstead Downs, 8th February 2014
Ground Ivy, Ringstead Downs, 8th February 2014
Hazel Catkins, Ringstead Downs, 8th February 2014