21 members met at Mottistone last Saturday for a guided walk led by David Harding.It was a beautiful crisp November day, with blue skies, sunshine and excellent visibility.
The walk started at the “sunken path”, a delightful shaded area with steep hedgebanks either side which were clothed with ferns including the “Male Fern”, (Dryopteris felix-mas), Broad Buckler Fern (Dryopteris dilatata) and “Hart’s Tongue Fern” (Phyllitis scolopendrium).
The fungi enthusiasts amongst us found some nice specimens of Earthballs, probably Scleroderma citrinum, growing on the hedgebank.Some”Spindles “, Euonymus europaeus bearing their very colourful pink capsules which open to reveal bright orange seeds were also spotted.
As we progressed up the sunken path, breaks in the vegetation revealed ever better views of the chalk cliffs at Freshwater, contrasting with a sparkling blue sea. At the top of the hill, we paused to admire the ever improving views.Some members spotted plants of Cotoneaster simonsii the “Himalayan Cotoneaster” naturalized in the hedgerows.
We continued to the Longstone,which dates from Neolithic times,one of the oldest monuments on the island, a 13ft high sandstone pillar with a second smaller stone at its base.David Biggs was able to give us a more detailed account of the history of the Longstone and the long barrow or burial chamber.Wonderful country views could be seen at this vantage points, with trees resplendent in their various autumn colours.
We then walked past an interpretation panel and up onto the downs. Spectacular views could then be seen in all directions
It was at this point we found our best specimens of the morning, a small troop of the “Parasol Fungus”, Macrolepiota procera,with their large caps and dark scales, and stems which resemble snakeskin.
David Biggs pointed out Tortrix caterpillars in Teasels(Dipsacus fullonum) and demonstrated by opening up a teasel seed head.
On the route back, we walked past some very fine and rugged wind pruned trees, including Sycamore, Beech and Hawthorn.Gorse (Ulex europaeus)
was also observed flowering.
Dave and Hazel Trevan