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Local Meetings of the BBS

South East Group 2007

 

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Malcolm Watling

mwatling@supanet.com

Seaton Lakes (v.-c. 15), 3 February 2007

Three former gravel pits beside the Little Stour

River, east of Canterbury , are now used for private

fishing. Gravel extraction finished in 1992 and

since then earth moving and landscaping has left

a substrate of mainly neutral to calcareous nature

which in places has a conspicuous bryoflora.

The land habitats are grass banks, meadows, scrub

and clumps of young trees. Time prevented a

complete search so we looked at areas most obviously

well furnished with bryophytes. These

were a car park and adjacent colonising bare soil,

a gently sloping trackway with a gravel substrate

and some rough grassland adjoining a young willow

wood. We also looked at a weir on the river.

This seemingly unpromising part of East Kent has

been rather neglected bryologically, even by those

of us who live here. Hence a quarter of species

seen were new 10km square records (marked^), at

least according to Trudy Side’s 1970 atlas.

The car park is in a corner of some open ground

which, having held the machinery of the gravel

extraction works, had been levelled and left bare.

Apart from fresh tyre-churned muddy tracks, the

whole area was well colonised by mosses, mostly

Brachythecium rutabulum, Kindbergia praelonga,

Calliergonella cuspidata and Didymodon fallax .

One corner shaded by a row of willows had an

impressive sward of Drepanocladus aduncus ^,

which is locally common on some of the damper

ground in this valley, but here giving a notable

display. Cratoneuron filicinum was patchily abundant

here, as was Aloina aloides^ , showing up as

brown carpets of sporophytes. An old telegraph

pole on the ground, used as a boundary marker,

yielded small amounts of Campylopus introflexus^

and Dicranoweisia cirrata^ . Also present here was

Trichostomum crispulum^ , usually found mainly

on the downs in Kent .

The gravel trackway didn’t look like one; the upper

part was rough grass with a selection of the

common mosses, but as it levelled out to join the

flat area, it became a thick turf of co-dominant

Calliergonella cuspidata and Cratoneuron filicinum ,

with Oxyrrhynchium hians and Amblystegium

serpens. Brachythecium mildeanum^ was

found here, but quantities are unknown since it

was overlooked until microscopic examination of

collected samples! Its presence is a good reason for

attempting to preserve these habitats.

The wood was devoid of epiphytes except for one

patch of Frullania dilatata and a few scraps of Orthotrichum

diaphanum , but had some Hypnum

cupressiforme and Hypnum resupinatum on tree

bases. Despite the wetness of the site, even the

soil here was dry, being made of the remains of a

very soft, fine silt brought up by the dredging. The

only mosses on the ground were just a few patches

of Barbula convoluta perched round the edges of

some rather fragile rabbit burrows. The grassland

was not prolific, but did add to our list Pseudo 14

Field Bryology number 92

scleropodium purum, Dicranella varia , and Pottia

davalliana. Molehills under a small clump of willows

gave us Fissidens incurvus and Physcomitrium

pyriforme^ .

The weir had Tortula muralis and Bryum dichotomum

on the brickwork and banks, with Platyhypnidium

riparioides^, Leptodictyum riparium and

Brachythecium rivulare^ in the running water. The

commonest moss in the water, in running and still

parts, was Cratoneuron filicinum . Other species

found in various places were Barbula unguiculata,

Bryum caespiticium, B. capillare and, on exposed

gravel of a ditch bank, immature Pohlia sp.

We are most grateful to Dr. Norman McCanch,

the site’s wildlife consultant, for his assistance in

arranging this meeting and showing us around.

 

 

 
 
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