GNS Field Meeting, Haresfield Hill (18 January 2009, contributed by Juliet Bailey)

Eleven members met for a field meeting of general interest on Haresfield Hill. We walked out across the plateau, admiring the Cotswold landscapes, the sweep of the Severn, including the bridges some 25 miles away, the Forest of Dean on the far shore, and Wales beyond. Descending the scarp, we examined the cliff faces of old quarries and discussed their geology, looked at lichens, saw roe deer, fox and evidence of rabbits. There is an unusual station for the introduced umbellifer Alexanders tight under the cliff. Normally this has a coastal distribution, (though it is also abundant on the roadside near Deerhurst and no doubt other places in the county). A dozen species of birds were recorded, with Bullfinch probably the most notable. Walking back towards the top we came across an area of cowpats where grazing has been reinstated (though stock removed for winter). Here, the coarse Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum) was evident in and among young thorn bushes where it had been protected, with a tight sward elsewhere. We had a very interesting group discussion, on the merits and problems of controlled burning of common land, and whether you would restart it after it had fallen into abeyance for 40 years. The picture below was taken by Brian Bailey.


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