Fifteen members joined the MNA Coach Trip to Long Mynd, Shropshire. We parked in the National Trust car park in Cardingmill Valley, Church Stretton where a yaffling Green Woodpecker greeted our arrival. House Martins and Swallows were buzzing overhead and Coal Tits were in the conifers.In order to escape the crowds we took the path up the adjacent valley called Townbrook Hollow. The climb followed a small stream that attracted patrolling Common Hawker Aeshna juncea and Golden-ringed Dragonfly Cordulegaster boltonii with Butterflies including Large White Pieris brassicae, Small White Pieris rapae, Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina, Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus and Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus. Although steep in places between huffing and puffing along some members glimpsed Common Lizard Lacerta vivipara and plenty of interest for the botanists with Tormentil Potentilla erecta, Harebell Campanula rotundifolia, Wild Thyme Thymus polytrichus, Heath Bedstraw Galium saxatile, Bog Pimpernel Anagallis tenella, Monkey Flower Mimulus guttatus, Herb Robert Geranium robertianum, Wall Speedwell Veronica arvensis, Common Catsear Hypochaeris radicata, Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus, Enchanter’s Nightshade Circaea lutetiana, Sheeps Bit Scabious Jasione montana and Sand Spurrey Spergularia rubra.
Eventually we all safely reached the moorland above and were joined by a rather friendly Sheep that bleeted in hope of a few scraps whilst we ate lunch – its mates dung attracted the inevitable Yellow Dung Fly Scatophaga stercoraria. A noticeable passage of Meadow Pipits, Whinchat, two male Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, two unusually silent Ravens gliding close overhead were joined by some spectacular raptors Common Buzzard, Peregrine, Hobby looking Swift-like and agile, swooping to catch Dragonflies and one particular feisty individual having a go at two Kestrels that dared to be in its patch. Some of the group decided to return on the path down Ashes Hollow towards Little Stretton it turned out to be rather precarious in places and what had been mere streams in the recce had swollen into mini-rivers with recent rains. The remainder of the group tromped across the moor spotting a Ichneumon Wasp, a few Dark Green Fritillary Argynnis aglaja and various Moths including Bordered Straw Heliothis peltigera, Spinach Eulithis mellinata and Bilberry Tortrix Pasiphila debiliata. Chris Derri caught a number of Micromoths that he later identified as Scoparia pallida, Scoparia pyralella, Donacuala forficella and Ancylis unguicella. We reached a small copse of trees which held Redstarts including some juveniles, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Wren, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and a Buzzard feather.
An adjacent acidic boggy pool held Floating Club-rush Eleogiton fluitans and was surrounded by some impressive Sphagnum Moss had another Moth – Brown China Mark Elophila nymphaeata and a few Damselflies Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa and Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum.
A couple of locals with a dog directed us onto another track that also returned to Little Stretton via a fantastic route that provided great views across the moors to various peaks and ridges.
En route we noted the rather bloated corpse of a Common Shrew Sorex araneus and a few Fungi – Brown Puffball Bovista nigrescens and Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare.
On reaching the picturesque village of Little Stretton we found to our dismay that the Ragleth Arms country pub complete with obligatory hanging baskets and union jack bunting – was closed! Thankfully our driver kindly drove us back along to Church Stretton to the Kings Arms where we indulged in a pint or two before the journey back to Liverpool.