Walk report: 19 September 2019 Isle of Wight

Black Bryony berries

A perfect calm sunny September day. Fifteen members met Angela at the Isle of Wight Ferry Terminal to go to Yarmouth and walk the old railway line to Freshwater. We saw a few birds from the ferry, a sunbathing Peregrine, Black-headed Gulls and a group of Black-tailed Godwits probing the mud. Overhead a wartime Supermarine Spitfire was being taken for a spin.

On arrival in Yarmouth we found a botanist’s paradise. We were able to brush up our acquaintance with seaside plants such as Cord-grass, Sea Mayweed, Rock Samphire, Sea Beet, Sea Purslane, Sea Aster (like a Michaelmas Daisy but with fatter fleshier leaves), Seablite and Common Sea-lavender. Further on we found Glasswort (Salicornia). The hedgerows were full of autumn glory, hips, haws, sloes, blackberries, Privet, elderberries, Black Bryony, this has been a wonderful year for berries.

Mute Swans and gulls
The railway line has a variety of habitats. Once into the oak wood we kept a look out for Red Squirrels but they weren’t coming out to see us. We found lichens, Evernia, Usnea, Parmelia and Xanthoria and huge clusters of Hart’s-tongue Fern and Male Ferns and Cherry and Knopper galls on the oaks. Wild Madder was an unusual find, as was Spurge-laurel, but less so Stinking Iris. Swallows and House Martins were gathering overhead preparing to migrate to Africa. Curlew, Lapwing, Grey Heron and Little Egret were feeding in the mudflats and our lunchtime entertainment was provided by a lady feeding a family of six Mute Swan cygnets and many gulls.

After lunch we took a detour to explore the Afton Marsh nature reserve. This is an area of fen and open water, and broadleaved woodland which is the floodplain for the River Yar. It was formerly a grazing marsh, but has now been taken over by reeds. In the woods we found many butterflies, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Small White, Painted Lady and Peacock Butterfly and the open water was the hunting ground for the magnificent Emperor Dragonfly and other dragonflies and damselflies. Among the lush vegetation was Angelica, Hop, Alder and willows and a flock of Long-tailed Tits passed overhead. This loop made a very nice extra and after a very welcome cup of tea at the End of the Line cafe we made our way back to the ferry. AM. Photographs © Richard Coomber

Speckled Wood
Common Darter