Natural History Meetings Reports

A summary of Summer 2019 events

Bruton Railway Cutting SSSI (13th April) – The event was well attended with about 16 people joining Andrew Leach from Bruton School on the morning visit to the Railway Cutting and considering how best to reveal the overgrown exposure. Viewing the cutting from the railway platform resulted in a suggestion for a geological interpretation board on the platform in front of the Geological SSSI exposure. There was a short walk down to the River Brue before heading off to Cook’s Farm for lunch and a further walk to the site of the early 19th century attempt to mine for coal on the farmland. The site is now just a depression in the ground but the walks provided botanical interest in addition to considering the geological background to the area.

Canada Farm (4th May) – 8-10 people took the lane along to the old farm buildings before passing through SSSI fields and on to the relatively new Hawk and Owl Trust hide. Before returning to the Avalon Marshes Centre for refreshments.

Steart Marshes (8th June) – 10 people attended on a very windy day which saw little in the way of butterflies or dragonflies but the avocets put on a good show chasing off the gulls (presumably protecting their young although no avocet chicks were seen). After lunch by the Combwich cricket pitch the walk back alongside the River Parrett revealed good populations of Sea clover (Trifolium squamosum) growing alongside the path.

Holford (11th August) – a joint meeting with Somerset Rare Plants Group and the Wild Flower Society, well attended with around 25 people in all. The event was inspired by the account of a 1933 SANHS outing reported in the 1934 Proceedings. Francis Farr-Cox provided a highlight before walks began by arriving in his 1934 Austin Seven and Simon Leach obligingly posed for photos with Liz McDonnell’s vasculum that she had brought along. The day was wet but many of the plants on the target list were found so a successful event.

Cloford Quarry (7th September) – 7 people met with Alan Stirling from Aggregate Industries to explore the dormant quarry. Splitting into two groups, the geologists went off to explore the geological interest for which the site is an SSSI (sediments of Triassic and Jurassic age occurring in fissures in the Carboniferous Limestone) whilst the botanists recorded a total of 157 species including Wild Basil (Clinopodium vulgare) and Henbit Deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule). Read more in the report here.

Montacute Estate (12th October) – a dozen people braved the drizzle to walk around the parkland to the east of Montacute House in search of fungi. A total of 30 species of fungi were found along with 36 species of gall. Read more in the report here.