BBS > Activities > Meetings and Workshops > Previous > 2003
Meetings of the BBS - 2003
South Norfolk/North Suffolk, 10-15April
Richard Fisk (1), John Mott & Robin Stevenson
(1) 1 Paradise Row, Ringsfield, Beccles, Suffolk , NR34 8LQ
Some difficulty had been encountered in deciding upon a centre for this meeting because of cost but the eventual choice, the Half Moon at Rushall, proved to be a friendly and comfortable pub and the food was more than adequate. With its low rainfall, East Anglia may not be the most exciting area for bryophytes but the programme was planned to take members to a variety of interesting habitats. In the event, six new vice-county records were found (exceeding expectations) and there were numerous new site records. The localities visited during the course of the week were variously in v.-c. 25 ( East Suffolk ), v.-c. 26 ( West Suffolk ), v.-c. 27 ( East Norfolk ) and v.-c. 28 ( West Norfolk ).
During part of the meeting our antics were closely observed by socio-biologists Rebecca Ellis and Claire Waterton. It was difficult to know quite what they made of us, but it cannot have been too bad because they have both joined the BBS.
Those who attended at least part of the meeting were Ken Adams, John Blackburn, Tom Blockeel, Sam Bosanquet, Tessa Carrick, Jeff Duckett, Jenny Duckworth, Bryan Edwards, Bob Ellis, Rebecca Ellis, Amy Eycott, Richard Fisk, Jonathan Graham, Mary Ghullam, Mark Hill, Roy Hurr, Frank Lammiman, Mark Lawley, David Long, Malcolm McFarlane, John Mott, Pat Negal, Angela Newton, Seán O’Leary, Mark Pool, Ron Porley, Silvia Pressel, Chris Preston, Joy Ricketts, Christine Rieser, Fred Rumsey, David Rycroft, Gill Stevens, Robin Stevenson, Johnny Turner, Mike Walton, Claire Waterton, Martin Wigginton and Marcus Yeo.
Thursday 10 Aprill
Only small pockets now remain of the extensive Little Ouse valley fens that once provided peat for fuel, sedge for thatching, and trees for timber-framed buildings. They contain two Sites of Special Scientific Interest within the Waveney and Little Ouse Valley Fens Special Area of Conservation. Helen Smith, a member of the group that is working to conserve these fens, joined us for most of the day.
Early arrivals at Blo’ Norton Fen (v.-c. 28) made a good start with a group of elders by the edge of the road where Cryphaea heteromalla, Orthotrichum lyellii and O. pulchellum were recorded. We had hardly moved more than a few yards into the fen itself before black clouds brought a burst of very heavy and cold rain. However, this did ensure that the bryophytes were looking very fresh, particularly a large tuft of Syntrichia papillosa that was much admired. Nearby, Mark Hill discovered Sanionia uncinata*, Orthotrichum tenellum (second Norfolk record) and more O. pulchellum on an adjacent branch. Radula complanata, Eurhynchium speciosum and Syntrichia virescens were also noted.
Shortly after moving across the river into Thelnetham Fen (v.-c. 26) a quantity of frog spawn was noted on the branch of a large sallow some two metres above ground. After some humorous exchanges about tree frogs in Suffolk , Bob Ellis’s suggestion that this was the result of a spawning frog being taken by a heron was accepted. More Orthotrichum pulchellum and O. tenellum were seen here, together with a fine patch of Radula complanata. In the fen proper, Chiloscyphus pallescens, Bryum pseudotriquetrum, Campylium stellatum var. stellatum and var. protensum, Ctenidium molluscum and Plagiomnium elatum were all noted. After a chilly lunch peppered with hail we took a quick look at nearby Hinderclay Fen (v.-c. 26). This proved to be less interesting, although Dicranella cerviculata was seen.
We retraced our steps and moved on to Market Weston Fen (v.-c. 26) , which isprobably the best of the fens in this group. Brachythecium mildeanum was found on the path leading to the entrance to the fen, and a fine tuft of Amblystegium humile c.fr. was found on the edge of a dyke. Drepanocladus cossonii was plentiful in a mown area, together with Aneura pinguis c.fr., Moerckia hibernica, Riccardia chamedryfolia, Calliergon giganteum, Campyliadelphus elodes and Palustriella commutata var. falcata. Numerous epiphytes were found in the south-east corner of the fen, including Metzgeria fruticulosa, Cryphaea heteromalla, Ulota phyllantha and Zygodon conoideus. In the farthest part of the fen Plagiomnium elatum was abundant in large pure stands up to 50 cm in diameter. Mark Hill and Chris Preston ‘SBALed’ the stubble field opposite to where we had parked our cars and recorded 13 species, the average for fields in East Anglia .
Friday 11 April
The day dawned with an obvious change in the weather and from now on the meeting was blessed with fine, sunny and at times very warm days. En route to the coast some members stopped in Halesworth to photograph the house, and its commemorative plaques, in which William Hooker lived for a while and where Joseph Hooker was born. Early arrivals at the National Trust car park at Dunwich Heath (v.-c. 25) were able to admire the view across the expanse of reed beds that form the RSPB Minsmere reserve, with the dramatic dome of Sizewell B nuclear power station in the background. A Marsh Harrier performing its display flight could be seen in the distance.
On the way across the heath a brief stop was made to admire Lophozia bicrenata in an area shortly to be roped off to protect a colony of Ant Lions. The large array of rotting logs in Scottshall Coverts (v.-c. 25) soon began to reveal items of interest: Cephalozia lunulifolia, Lepidozia reptans, Dicranum fuscescens, D. majus, D. montanum c.fr., D. scoparium, D. tauricum c.fr., Hypnum andoi and Tetraphis pellucida c.fr.Nowellia curvifolia and Odontoschisma denudatum, for which this area is particularly noted, were also recorded. Several fine colonies of fruiting Herzogiella seligeri were seen, and Mark Hill discovered Sphagnum angustifolium*. On the way back to the car park along Docwra’s dyke Frullania dilatata and Aulacomnium palustre were added to the list, and on an adjacent bank Lophocolea semiteres attracted much attention.
Hypnum andoi and Rhizomnium pseudopunctatum were refound at Fen Covert (v.-c. 25) and more Cephalozia lunulifolia was discovered. Some of the party had to leave early in order to return to Dickleburgh for a Conservation and Recording Committee meeting. Once they were out of the way Mark Lawley turned up Cryptothallus mirabilis*, which must be the star find of the week, and Mary Ghullam found Hookeria lucens* c.fr.Cephalozia connivens, Leucobryum glaucum and Tetraphis pellucida were also recorded, and there was some discussion about a large form of Aneura pinguis with a crispate thallus, reminiscent of the continental A. maxima.
Cryptothallus mirabilis found on the meeting by Mark Lawley and photographed by Sam Bosanquet
Saturday 12 April
Although unknown bryologically, Gittin and Stubbings Woods are renowned for being two of the main sites in Britain for Suffolk Lungwort (Pulmonaria obscura). In Gittin Wood (v.-c. 25) some nice plants in flower were admired and photographed. Most of the species typical of Suffolk boulder clay woods were seen, including Metzgeria furcata, Porella platyphylla, Radula complanata, Anomodon viticulosus, Cirriphyllum piliferum, Eurhynchium pumilum, E. striatum and Fissidens exilis. Fruiting Neckera complanata was found, the first recent record in the county of this species with capsules. Sam Bosanquet found Orthotrichum stramineum on the trunk of an ash tree. Frullania dilatata, Cryphaea heteromalla, Homalia trichomanoides, Orthotrichum lyellii, O. tenellum and Ulota phyllantha were also recorded, contributing to a very respectable list of 66 species. Brachythecium mildeanum was seen in some quantity on the track leading to Stubbings Wood (v.-c. 25), where a shorter list was compiled due to the call of lunch, which was taken in a grassy clearing surrounded by primroses. Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus and R. triquetrus were the only species seen that were not recorded in Gittin Wood.
After lunch the party broke up. Some people went to Roydon Fen (v.-c. 27) and found another Norfolk record of Orthotrichum tenellum. Others went to Wortham Ling (v.-c. 25) to look for Leptodontium gemmascens; a few plants were found but it has decreased in recent years. The latter party then moved on to Redgrave/Lopham Fen (v.-c. 27) in the hope of seeing the Great Raft Spider but, alas, were some months too early. A quick walk around Middle Fen produced Bryum pallens and Calliergon cordifolium in a rather short list, so a decision was made to return to the visitor centre to take tea where most of the Roydon Fen party were already enjoying themselves.
In the evening a Special General Meeting was held to officially adopt the Society’s revised rules. This was followed by a Council Meeting.
Sunday 13 April
Sunday began with another fine morning on what turned out to be a memorable day at the Ted Ellis Reserve, Wheatfen Broad (v.-c. 27). After an hospitable reception the party was organised into groups to take boat trips to view Timmia megapolitana, which was found here, new to Britain , just over two years ago. Everyone was entranced by the tranquillity and beauty of the reserve, and a gentle cruise through the reed beds in perfect weather to see the Timmia was idyllic bryologising. Two further patches of Timmia were found in Home Marsh. The rest of the reserve was not to be outdone. The sallow carr was awash with Orthotrichum pulchellum, and among other goodies were Cryphaea heteromalla, Plagiomnium cuspidatum and Radula complanata with abundant dehisced capsules. New records for the reserve were Pylaisia polyantha, which was found in at least three places, Amblystegium humile and Ulota phyllantha; Orthotrichum lyellii was refound. After lunch a small group left to visit Scarning Fen (v.-c. 28) to look for Leiocolea rutheana while the rest of us continued to enjoy our visit to the reserve, even he who ‘missed the boat’ while stepping onto it and got rather wet and muddy. Jeff Duckett stopped at Grime’s Graves (v.-c. 28) on his way home and found Fissidens gracilifolius growing under artificial light along the tunnels.
Monday 14 April
After the previous day we came down to earth quite literally with a SBAL session on arable fields close to the Half Moon (v.-c. 27). Conditions were very dry but everyone quickly got involved, and at the first site, a 2-3 year set-a-side field, Seán O’Leary found Weissia longifolia var. longifolia* among more usual things, including Fissidens taxifolius with tubers. The second field on the other side of the road was even drier but an area farthest from the road revealed Riccia sorocarpa and Tortula truncata.
We then moved on to Flordon Common (v.-c. 27),an area of wet grazing marsh with a long reputation of botanical interest. A complete survey of the site is being carried out to replicate that done in 1910, so we recorded all we could find. Some fine Bryum pallens was found at the edge of a bonfire site, and things got more interesting as we moved into the wetter areas with Moerckia hibernica, Bryum laevifilum (on top of a Schoenus nigricans tussock), B. pseudotriquetrum, Calliergon cordifolium, Campylium stellatum, Drepanocladus cossonii and Scorpidium scorpioides. After lunch, one group went off to look for Leiocolea rutheana at Scarning Fen (v.-c. 28), while the remainder continued with the survey at Flordon. A small sand pit nearby was visited but had little to offer except Dicranella varia and Homalothecium lutescens. Syntrichia virescens was recorded from an elder by the stream.
On the way back to base a visit was made to Tyrrel’s Wood (v.-c. 27), a Woodland Trust reserve that the local bryological group had visited earlier in the year. Chris Preston found Herzogiella seligeric.fr. on a rotting log, and much to the surprise of herself and everyone else Mary Ghullam found a small patch of Sphagnum palustre. A damper area with some ash was eventually reached, where Frullania dilatata, Metzgeria fruticulosa, Radula complanata and Ulota bruchii were recorded.
Tuesday 15 April
Frank Lammiman and Christine Rieser went off to view Rhytidium rugosum at Icklingham, while the remaining twelve members of the party gathered at Thetford Warren (v.-c. 26). An area of lichen heath with Racomitrium canescens was examined first. The known colonies seemed to be doing well and a large new colony was discovered nearby. Mary Ghullam also found a small patch in the adjoining tetrad. The other main attraction here was abundant Ptilidium ciliare. In the adjacent Risbeth Wood (v.-c. 26) almost every bit of rotting wood had tufts of Herzogiella seligeri with abundant capsules. Dicranum majus and Rhytidiadelphus loreus, each at their only known sites in West Suffolk , were refound, and Seán O’Leary discovered Nowellia curvifolia* on the decorticated trunk of a fallen larch. There were plenty of other suitable logs around but a quick search did not reveal any more Nowellia. However, during this search Bob Ellis came across Aulacomnium palustre, which was something of a surprise.
It was decided to make a quick call at Barnhamcross Common (v.-c. 26) to look at Leptodontium gemmascens. Conditions were very dry and the first arrivals could not find it but Fred Rumsey, who has studied the area, showed us some good patches.
Despite howls of protest it was decided to postpone lunch until we arrived at Cranberry Rough (v.-c. 28) where we picnicked on the edge of the old railway cutting. While we refuelled, Amy Eycott gave us a brief history of Breckland and helped get us moving by pushing Robin off his stool. Cranberry Rough is the site of an old lake basin, Hockham Mere, which is famous in Quaternary circles because analysis of the pollen present in the sediments demonstrates key changes in vegetation during Neolithic times. The lake was drained rather unsuccessfully, leaving the present mire, consisting of a rather dull marsh and areas of sallow carr. For the effort required to plough through this rough terrain rewards were slight: Frullania dilatata, Calliergon cordifolium c.fr. and Orthotrichum pulchellum topped the list. We were joined by Nick Gibbons and Jonathan Spencer English from Forest Enterprise. Some time was spent discussing the possible future management of the site, including the introduction of large mammals to clear some of the scrub. The general feeling was that, bryologically speaking, they could do what they liked, with little loss. Since there was some danger of losing the entire party in the mire a tactical retreat was made. On regaining the relative safety of the marsh a large Grass Snake was observed. This moved off towards the mire and took refuge in a hawthorn bush where it draped itself rather decorously around the trunk and lower branches and remained motionless while attempts were made to photograph it.
The meeting then broke up. One party went off in search of Stone Curlews (successful) at Weeting Heath and Rhytidium rugosum (unsuccessful) at Grime’s Graves where they encountered a frosty reception. Others went home and the residue headed for the Half Moon and welcome refreshment. Since the bottle of wine that had been on offer for the rediscovery of Orthotrichum obtusifolium was still unclaimed, it (by now bottles of red and white) was shared by those at dinner.
The local secretary would like to thank all who contributed to an enjoyable meeting, particularly the various landowners and organisations who allowed us access to their property, and Bob Ellis for organising such a memorable day at Wheatfen.
Kindrogan, Perthshire, 5-12 July
Dalreoch Farm, Enochdhu, Blairgowrie, Perthshire , PH10 7PF
The first week of the summer field meeting was based at Kindrogan Field Centre near Pitlochry, which is now being managed by the Field Studies Council. The meeting was unusual insofar as the first three days were taken up by a workshop on the genus Schistidium, led by Dr Hans Blom. Other features of the meeting were the availability of a laboratory, which meant that specimens could be examined in the evenings, and the presence of a four-strong Czech contingent. Participants staying at the Centre were John Blackburn (Wednesday-Thursday), Sam Bosanquet, Blanka Buryová, Richard Fisk, Jan Kučera, Elizabeth Kungu, Mark Lawley, Peter Martin (Saturday-Tuesday), Vita Plasek, Mark Pool (Thursday onwards), Chris Preston (Saturday-Tuesday), Gordon Rothero, Jonathan Sleath and Magda Zmrhalová, as well as Hans Blom and his lichenologist wife Dr Louise Lindblom (Saturday-Tuesday). Roy Perry joined the excursions on Friday and Saturday, and Joe Hope swelled the numbers on Monday and Tuesday. Ron Porley stayed in Pitlochry (to be near the Moulin Ale, which then turned out to be on tap in the Centre!). Martin Robinson was within walking distance of his house.
The excursions explored upland areas close to Kindrogan, with the exception of Craighall Gorge, which is a lowland site. All localities visited were in East Perthshire (v.-c. 89). There was a slight bias towards middle-altitude limestone and schistose crags and base-rich flushes, with which the area is very well endowed. Recording was carried out on a 5-km square basis, and so, although much of the area is bryologically quite well known, considerable progress was made on finer-grain mapping.
Sunday 6 July: Kindrogan (NO0562)
The day was spent around the Centre and in the lab, getting to grips with Schistidium. Communities examined on a stone wall, two concrete posts and two bridges were mosaics of S. apocarpum and S. crassipilum, looking different in their habit and colour. An unsuccessful attempt was made to turn one specimen on the top of the stone wall into S. elegantulum subsp. elegantulum. People were starting to feel that they were right all along: nearly all Schistidia are either S. apocarpum or S. crassipilum . This notion was scotched the next day. On the rocks in the River Ardle S. rivulare was also examined. A novel problem was the dampness of the weather, usually not a bad thing for bryophytes but not the best condition for identifying Schistidia, as the peristome teeth are best examined in the dry state.
Monday 7 July: Gleann Beag (NO1375)
The previous day’s complacency was soon banished by the morning’s excursion to the limestone boulder scree below Creag nan Eun in the upper Glen Shee area. As soon as we had crossed over the fence from the lay-by, the very first rock we looked at sent Hans’s adrenal glands into overdrive. It turned out to be a false alarm (Schistidium apocarpum rather than a new species for the UK ) but the challenge was definitely on. S. crassipilum ,S. robustum and S. papillosum* were common, the latter looking remarkably different from the others and also extending onto more acidic boulders. S. trichodon was occasional and S. dupretii* was found in one or two small neat tufts on the vertical sides of rocks. Where these species occurred in mosaics the differences were often very convincing.
Eyes inevitably strayed to other things. Some of the boulders were covered in quite a luxuriant form of Leucodon sciuroides , provoking later discussion about the merits of var. morensis. Gordon found Didymodon ferrugineus and Ditrichum flexicaule* . Seligeria recurvata was on the base of the cliffs, and Pseudoleskeella catenulata, which was to stay with us all week, made its first appearance.
During the morning rain started and then got harder and harder until it reached the point where the planned afternoon of work in the lab seemed like a really good idea. Before going back a breakaway party consisting of the Czechs, Jonathan and Chris zipped up the hill on the opposite side of the glen to see Tortula leucostoma. This was duly found, as was Stegonia latifolia.
In the evening Jan gave a presentation on the survey project that he and his colleagues had been carrying out in the Krkonoše Mountains in Bohemia and the Hruby Jesenék Mountains in Moravia . Their painstaking work has resulted in about twenty species being downgraded in the Red List and eight being upgraded. We all felt that this added an extra dimension to the meeting, and some were certainly tempted to make the journey to the Czech Republic .
Tuesday 8 July: Ben Vrackie (NN9463)
This was a beautiful day, cloudy but dry and becoming sunny in the afternoon. We parked in the car park above the village of Moulin , donned blinkers and route-marched (pausing briefly for Diplophyllum obtusifolium* in forestry) straight to the Bealach na Searmoin. The crags lining this small pass were not very prepossessing, being rather broken and eroded by sheep, and predominantly acidic with small limestone exposures. One of the first bryophytes to come to notice, however, was abundant Gymnomitrion corallioides*, rare this far east and not seen in v.-c. 89 for many years. Racomitrium sudeticum* was examined on a large boulder nearby but Schistidia were absent and so we headed across to Creag Oisinnidh, to the west of the main Ben Vrackie summit, where there were limestone outcrops. It was subtly different from the previous day’s site, with Schistidium strictum (which was not seen at Gleann Beag) being quite common but S . papillosum much less so; S. robustum remained extremely frequent. Jan came across Didymodon vinealis* and Syntrichia virescens, Mark noted Distichium inclinatum *, Gordon recorded Myurella julacea var. scabrifolia, and in a vertical limestone seam cutting up the slope Sam and then Ron found Stegonia latifolia, which subsequently turned up in several more places. Pseudoleskeella catenulata was quite plentiful, and there were some impressive carpets of Antitrichia curtipendula .
Bryologists at work on Ben Vrackie
The party split into two at midday . The main group worked their way around the bottom of Ben Vrackie’s face, where limestone cliff ledges had Cololejeunea calcarea , Andreaea alpina, Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens, Didymodon ferrugineus, Encalypta alpina , E. ciliata, E. rhaptocarpa ,Entodon concinnus , Leucodon sciuroides, Mnium marginatum, Seligeria donniana and Stegonia latifolia. Flushes and damp base-rich runnels produced Harpanthus flotovianus , Scapania calcicola, S. degenii, S. gymnostomophila, S. lingulata, S. uliginosa, Calliergon trifarium, Catoscopium nigritum and Meesia uliginosa . There was a good array of Grimmias . G. incurva and G. longirostris occurred on scree leading down to the loch and in limestone runnels at the base of the cliffs, G. donniana and G. hartmanii were found on boulders, G. torquata was recorded on limestone exposures, and G. curvata was common, as always in this area. Most abundant of all, however, was G. funalis
Mark, Pete, Chris and Martin worked their way up to the summit, finding more Catoscopium nigritum in flushes, Tetralophozia setiformis in boulder scree, and Grimmia incurva in scree near the top. On the summit a lone sheep was unusually interested in Pete’s celebratory banana and had to be more or less forcibly removed. On the steep descent, Eurhynchium pulchellum was searched for in vain, having been found here previously by Mark, but there was reward in the magnificent show of Alpine Milk-vetch (Astragalus alpinus ) and Purple Oxytropis (Oxytropis halleri ). Ledges here turned up more Stegonia latifolia among Encalypta rhaptocarpa and Myurella julacea . The return trek down the hill on this sunny evening provided magnificent views towards Dunkeld, with just one brief pit-stop by the rear party to see the only surviving Brown Bog-rush (Schoenus ferrugineus ) transplant site.
Hans, who was leaving the following morning, was pleased with his trip and remarked on the quality of the sites we visited. Attempts at species new to the UK/Europe/science had all failed but we had all had our eyes opened, and the identification of Schistidium species, probably avoided by most people in the past, will be much clearer in the future. Confident statements were made during the remainder of the week that people would not have felt entitled to make earlier on!
Wednesday 9 July: Coire a’Ghearraig (NO0769)
The day started with farewells, not only to Hans and Louise, but also to Chris and Pete. John Blackburn had joined us and Elizabeth was back after a day’s absence. On another fine day the group headed off from the Spittal of Glenshee to walk westwards along a forest track towards Dalmunzie. This was less boring than your average forest track as the cutting on the up-slope side was damp and flushed with lime all the way along. After a couple of kilometres we struck up the Allt Coire Buidhe Beag towards the north-facing corrie that was our destination. Base-rich exposures by the stream had some interest, including Jungermannia atrovirens , Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens, Dichodontium flavescens* and Orthothecium intricatum , but not enough to cause anyone to linger too long. We skirted a young native pine plantation to the west, seeing plentiful Dicranoweisia crispula and Kiaeria blyttii on a stone dyke, and finally made it to the large base-rich flush complex that occupies most of Coire a’Ghearraig below the crags.
These flushes provided rich entertainment. Species found included Anthelia juratzkana , Barbilophozia lycopodioides, B. quadriloba, Jungermannia pumila, Leiocolea bantriensis, Scapania degenii, S. uliginosa, Tritomaria polita, Amblyodon dealbatus, Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens, Catoscopium nigritum, Meesia uliginosa, Orthothecium rufescens , Warnstorfia exannulata and, somewhat surprisingly, Calliergon giganteum. However, Oncophorus wahlenbergii, found here previously by Mark, remained elusive. The stones in some of the runnels glittered with Molendoa warburgii, probably originating from rocks higher up. Gordon was the first to notice False Sedge (Kobresia simpliciuscula ) in this flush complex, which is a new site for the species. A dry rocky hummock provided an ideal sunny lunch spot before the cliffs and boulders above were tackled in the afternoon.
The small cliffs and rocks fringing the corrie had limestone exposures in the western half, but became more acidic further east. We worked the middle and eastern sections. Gordon found Brachythecium reflexum lurking deep in a boulder jumble, and a small patch of Wilson ’s Filmy-fern (Hymenophyllum wilsonii ), which is extremely rare this far east. At the eastern end other species included Anastrepta orcadensis , Apometzgeria pubescens, Scapania aequiloba, Andreaea alpina, Pterigynandrum filiforme and Seligeria recurvata. The main party drifted westwards, looking at more flushes and particularly searching for the Oncophorus , to no avail, while Gordon traversed back in the other direction, covering the eastern end. Little was found here but more Gymnomitrion corallioides was some compensation.
Thursday 10 July: Craighall Gorge
This was to have been the Fealar day, but the forecast of heavy rain and wind induced a change of programme. Friday’s planned visit to the one lowland site of the week, Craighall Gorge just north of Blairgowrie, was advanced by a day. In the event the rain did not last very long. This site was a bit difficult to get around at times, with river crossings being needed to get to likely-looking cliffs on the west side, and bryologically there are better gorges in the region, but for sheer scenic value it is unsurpassed. The huge conglomerate cliffs rear vertically upwards, and the view up to Craighall House itself, perched on the lip of a towering crag, is positively Wagnerian.
Having parked by the house we filed steeply down to the bottom of the gorge, with Mark Pool, having just joined us, being put straight to work as card-holder. We explored northwards first of all, with occasional forays across to the other side, which were possible only because of the low water-level. The base-rich cliffs were very dry, but where water seeped through and created damper recesses species found included Apometzgeria pubescens , Cololejeunea calcarea, Leiocolea heterocolpos, Plagiochila britannica , Mnium marginatum, Molendoa warburgii, Plagiopus oederianus, Platydictya jungermannioides, Pterogonium gracile, Rhabdoweisia fugax, Seligeria donniana, Syntrichia intermedia and Taxiphyllum wissgrillii *. Best of all, Ron added Gymnostomum calcareum*. Amblystegium fluviatile and Cinclidotus fontinaloides covered the riverside stones, and both Hygrohypnum eugyrium and H. luridum were present. Sam and Richard collected an extreme form of Plagiochila britannica that had such strongly bilobed leaves that P. norvegica was considered. Sam also found Fissidens rufulus , and Dicranum montanum was noted on a rotten log by the path; both of these species are uncommon in the region. All of the wych elms and many other trees were lying dead in the bottom of the gorge and there were plenty of old ashes among the standing trees, so there was an opportunity to see epiphytes such as Frullania dilatata , Porella arboris-vitae, P. cordaeana,P. platyphylla , Orthotrichum lyellii, O. stramineum,O. striatum, Syntrichia laevipila , Ulota bruchii,U. crispa and Zygodon rupestris
The site had been quite well covered by mid-afternoon, allowing further exploration elsewhere. Gordon, the two Marks, the Czech contingent, Jonathan and John returned to Kindrogan to look at the crags and boulders in the forest above the Centre, which yielded Leiocolea heterocolpos ,Lophozia longidens , Cynodontium jenneri and Plagiopus oederianus. The Buxbaumia viridis log was visited but found to be Buxbaumia-less for the second year running.
Ron, Sam, Richard and Liz, having emerged from the gorge later than the others, took off to Blair Atholl to look for Aongstroemia longipes at the foot of Carn Liath, at a site where Mark Lawley had found it in May. Scattered stems were located among Anomobryum julaceum on a lay-by at the side of a hill track. Careful searching produced further bonuses in the shape of Fossombronia incurva , Haplomitrium hookeri and lots of Pohlia drummondii.
Friday 11 July: Fealar Gorge (NO0079)
Most people felt that the visit to Fealar Gorge was a fitting climax to the week. We used the Centre’s two minibuses to get up to this remote site, which is twelve miles off the tarmac. The wooded gorge below Fealar Lodge is lined with wet limestone outcrops and damp, mineral-enriched seepages, which yielded a rich harvest. In a roadside flush near the start Blanka found Moerckia hibernica and, best of all, Dicranella grevilleana, also found by Jan.
A long list included Apometzgeria pubescens , Jungermannia confertissima, Lophozia longidens, Plagiochila britannica, Scapania cuspiduligera, S. degenii, Didymodon ferrugineus, Ditrichum flexicaule, Encalypta ciliata , Molendoa warburgii, Orthothecium rufescens, Plagiopus oederianus , Pseudoleskeella catenulata, Pterigynandrum filiforme, Schistidium papillosum, S. robustum, S. strictum, S. trichodon, Seligeria acutifolia, S. donniana,S. pusilla and Tortula lanceola*. Mark Lawley added Anthelia juratzkana , Eremonotus myriocarpus and Hygrobiella laxifolia.
Since two 5-km squares were involved, Gordon shot straight off to the further one, lower down the gorge, later to be joined by Mark Lawley, Sam and Ron. Most of the same species were found here, but Scapania lingulata and Cynodontium jenneri were additional. An especially nice Saxifraga aizoides flush produced Amblyodon dealbatus , Catoscopium nigritum, Meesia uliginosa, Scorpidium scorpioides and masses of luxuriant Orthothecium rufescens. As he climbed back out on to the track at the end of the day Ron managed to add Tomentypnum nitens.
The whole gorge is the subject of a conservation project, having been fenced off for woodland regeneration. The growth is quite spectacular so far and the result will be a considerably enlarged broadleaved woodland running up to an altitude of 550 m. This has to be good news for the bryophytes in the long term.
Mark Pool frightens away the midges
On the way back, Gordon, driving the leading vehicle, clearly had one eye on the bar-opening time at Kindrogan, but it still took an hour to get back to the road.
Saturday 12 July: Glen Brerachan (NN9763)A depleted party consisting of the Czechs, Ron, Roy and Martin set out in the morning to reach Creag Spardain, a limestone hill in Glen Brerachan, on the east side of the Ben Vrackie massif. Ron found Fossombronia wondraczekii at the start of the track, which also had a lot of Blasia pusilla , Scapania irrigua and Ditrichum heteromallum. The initial part of the route was through forestry plantation with little interest, but we eventually came out into an extensive area of very broken crags, acidic but with limestone outcrops. The going among the deep heather and boulders was pretty diabolical. Anastrophyllum minutum , Douinia ovata, Lejeunea cavifolia,Lophozia longidens , Mnium marginatum, Rhabdoweisia fugax, Schistidium papillosum and S. strictum provided some interest, and Ron found Campylopus fragilis* and Tortella nitida*. More productive were the flushes that were scattered along the slope. Alongside the usual flush species were Jungermannia obovata , Leiocolea bantriensis, Riccardia multifida, Calliergon sarmentosum, C. stramineum and Meesia uliginosa . Blanka and Roy found a few stems of Calliergon trifarium.
Ron and Martin battered on and made it to the target crag, Cona Chreag, with a few tantalising minutes in hand. The slab-like cliff-face here was unlike any other we had seen, being peppered liberally with cushions of Grimmia ovalis* and otherwise pretty well decorated with Antitrichia curtipendula , Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens,Homalothecium sericeum and Leucodon sciuroides.
The week came to an end with eight new vice-county records; seven old records were updated. A total of over 370 bryophytes was recorded.
East Perthshire, 12-18 July
12A Castleview Terrace, Ludlow , SY8 2NG ; e-mail: email@example.com
Following the first week of the summer field meeting, most of the participants headed home, leaving a hard core of five reprobates (Roy Jeffery, Liz Kungu, Mark Lawley, Seán O’Leary and Mark Pool) to pass a joyful week scampering over the hills of East Perthshire (v.-c. 89) in search of bryophytes. Unbroken sunshine blessed each day save the last, and with England melting in a heat wave, we gave thanks as delightful mountain breezes caressed our brows and cooled our backs.
Rather than exploring classic bryological hot spots, we sought out little-known localities in order to extend the sum of knowledge. Several of these were far from tarmac, and Martin Robinson gave invaluable assistance by securing permission from landowners to drive several miles along tracks on private estates. This saved us long walks, and left a lot more time for bryologising.
Saturday 12 July: Riechip Den (NO0646 and NO0647)
While some members of the party travelled up from the south, Liz and Mark Lawley explored Riechip Den, two or three miles north-east of Dunkeld. This wooded dingle is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, but was bryologically unknown until we set to work. By the end of our afternoon, 125 species had been found. Dappled shade gave pleasant relief from the hot sun for us as well as for Hygrohypnum eugyrium and H. luridum on boulders by the stream. Most of the rock and boulders were acidic, but pockets proved sufficiently base-rich for Cololejeunea calcarea, Leiocolea bantriensis, Lejeunea cavifolia, Anoectangium aestivum, Anomodon viticulosus, Campylophyllum calcareum, Grimmia torquata, Gymnostomum aeruginosum, Neckera complanata, N. crispa and Tortella tortuosa. Numbering among plants less dependent on base-enrichment were Barbilophozia hatcheri, Blepharostoma trichophylla, Tritomaria exsectiformis, T. quinquedentata, Grimmia curvata and Trichostomum tenuirostre. Trichocolea tomentella, Plagiobryum zieri, Sphagnum capillifolium, S. fimbriatum and S. girgensohnii cloaked wet banks of soil. The sides of a short, shallow gorge were sufficiently shaded for Eurhynchium pumilum, Fissidens osmundoides, Heterocladium heteropterum var. flaccidum, Hookeria lucens, Plagiothecium curvifolium and Rhynchostegiella tenella to thrive, and several fallen tree trunks and boughs – damp and decorticated – held abundant Nowellia curvifolia and Riccardia palmata, alongside more modest quantities of Barbilophozia attenuata, Scapania irrigua and S. nemorea.
Sunday 13 July: Loch Garry (NN6268 and surrounding area)
On Sunday, all five members worked up their tans near the southern end of Loch Garry in the far west of the vice-county. Pohlia drummondii and P. filum grew on disturbed soil by the track, but we spent much of our morning exploring a mire near the head of the loch, where Liz found Sphagnum molle*, among the first of 15 species of Sphagnum located that day. Nearby, resplendent orange hummocks of S. austinii, burnished in the summer sun, had clearly forgotten their Factor 25. Calypogeia sphagnicola, Kurzia pauciflora, Mylia anomala and M. taylorii added hepatic interest.
After lunch, we explored the banks of the Allt Coire Easan, where Roy ’s geological expertise in interpreting bedrock and terrain became evident on the first of many occasions during the week. The burn had cut into mica-schist and quartzitic gneiss, which augured badly for bryodiversity, but in some places the bedrock had a calcareous cement that proved popular with Schistidium crassipilum, S. papillosum and S. strictum (those of us who had attended the recent workshop being keen to display our newly acquired expertise in S-words). Fortunately, other calcicoles diverted attention, with Cololejeunea calcarea, Anoectangium aestivum, Grimmia torquata, Hypnum callichroum and Molendoa warburgii. Eremonotus myriocarpus and Jungermannia paroica were present too, and Mark Pool found Bryum riparium, its pale green shoots resembling B. mildeanum, but the distinctive, flat, red tubers giving the game away on microscopic examination.
On the slopes above, a small area of scree on the northern side of Meall Doire (NN6168) yielded Anthelia julacea, Kiaeria blyttii, K. falcata and Racomitrium sudeticum. Mats of Tetralophozia setiformis capped several boulders, and Seán found a little Bazzania tricrenata in one of the declivities. Nearby, Scapania uliginosa grew in a runnel. Anastrepta orcadensis turned up, and several colonies of Splachnum ampullaceum and S. sphaericum bore witness to nature’s recycling programme.
Bird life was also much in evidence on this idyllic summer’s day. A Peregrine swore at us from high above, and Mrs Merlin – fearful for the safety of her nest in the heather – rose before us. Two love-struck Red-throated Divers wailed to each other across the loch, and a family of Ring Ouzels scattered across the moor. It was gone nine in the evening before we arrived back in Pitlochry for late fish and chips and a pint.
Monday 14 July: Glen Tilt (NN9475, NN9575 and NN9576)
As we drove up Glen Tilt, a Red Squirrel bounced along the parapet of a bridge. The BBS had explored Creag Mhor’s crags during the summer meeting of 1977, so we pushed a little further on, and parked about a mile beyond Forest Lodge, crossing the river by a footbridge in order to explore the lower reaches of the Allt Fheannach and its rocky banks, before returning along the south-eastern side of the valley and paddling back across the river (at a mercifully low ebb that day) to the car.
Acidophiles on acidic metamorphosed granite by the River Tilt gave way to a much more varied bryoflora once we encountered faulted Dalradian limestone with igneous intrusions and mica-schist along the Allt Fheannach. Here grew Apometzgeria pubescens, Cololejeunea calcarea, Leiocolea alpestris, L. turbinata, Porella cordaeana, Scapania aspera, S. scandica, Anoectangium aestivum, Bartramia ithyphylla, Brachythecium glareosum, Bryum imbricatum, Didymodon ferrugineus, Entodon concinnus, Grimmia hartmanii, Mnium stellare, Orthothecium intricatum, O. rufescens, Philonotis calcarea, Pohlia cruda, Pseudoleskeella catenulata, Seligeria donniana and S. pusilla. Flushed soil gave us Amblyodon dealbatus and Meesia uliginosa. Another surge of enthusiasm for the recondite wonders of Schistidiology produced Schistidium crassipilum, S. elegantulum subsp. elegantulum, S. papillosum and S. trichodon. But the hour had come to drag ourselves away from these alluring beauties of tranquil country so far from mad rushing crowds, and vacate the field for Blair Atholl’s bucolic attractions and gay crowded places.
Tuesday 15 July: Carn Breac (NN9568) and Meall Breac (NN9668)
Martin Robinson joined us for our jaunt to the limestone hills north of Shinagag. Approaching from Loch Moraig, we stopped for half an hour to look for Aongstroemia longipes beside the track (amid billowing masses of Anomobryum julaceum), with small quantities of Fossombronia incurva and Haplomitrium hookeri in attendance nearby. Beyond the fence a base-rich flush sported Catoscopium nigritum, its compact, dark-green cushions and stubby, brown, horizontal capsules making a fine show. We were to see much more of this scarce species later in the day.
Carn Breac achieves a very modest altitude of 500 metres, and Meall Breac is little higher, so we did not discover any species confined to high ground, but the slopes of sugar limestone and calcareous schist rewarded our search with a fine range of calcicoles. Alongside the pretty pinnate leaves of Purple Milk-vetch (Astragalus danicus) grew Bryum caespiticium, Bryoerythrophyllum recurvirostrum, Didymodon ferrugineus, Distichium capillaceum and Pseudocrossidium revolutum (abundant here in its ‘natural’ limestone habitat). Encalypta rhaptocarpa, E. streptocarpa and E. vulgaris all made a bow, but choicest of this genus was an extensive colony of E. alpina on the northern slopes of Carn Breac, alongside much smaller quantities of Bryum elegans – a moss which fully justifies its specific epithet. Scapania aequiloba, S. aspera, S. gymnostomophila, S. subalpina, Entodon concinnus, Grimmia hartmanii, Gymnostomum aeruginosum, Hymenostylium recurvirostrum, Mnium marginatum, Myurella julacea, Orthothecium intricatum, Pohlia cruda, Pseudoleskeella catenulata var. catenulata, Racomitrium canescens, Seligeria donniana, Thuidium delicatulum, Trichostomum crispulum and Weissia brachycarpa var. obliqua also appeared. Schistidiophiles assuaged their affliction and sated their addiction with Schistidium apocarpum, S. crassipilum, S. papillosum and S. robustum.
Crossing from Carn Breac to Meall Breac, we did not dally long by small flushes containing Catoscopium nigritum, with Sphagnum austinii nearby, but headed down to a more extensive flushed area a little to the west of Loch Valigan. Here Seán found Tomentypnum nitens growing near Scapania calcicola, Meesia uliginosa and Oncophorus virens, with phanerogams such as False Sedge (Kobresia simpliciuscula), Three-flowered Rush (Juncus triglumis), Few-flowered Spike-rush (Eleocharis quinqueflora) and Variegated Horsetail (Equisetum variegatum) nearby.
Sron na h-Innearach (NN9670)
Late in the afternoon we briefly explored the northern end of Sron na h-Innearach, whose limestone cliff supports a bryoflora similar to that of Carn Breac and Meall Breac, with Jungermannia borealis, Leiocolea alpestris, Scapania aequiloba, Bryum elegans, B. imbricatum, Campylophyllum calcareum, Encalypta rhaptocarpa, Hypnum hamulosum, Mnium marginatum and Myurella julacea. Apometzgeria pubescens appeared for the first time during the day, but we failed to relocate a puzzling Eurhynchium found there recently, with concave branch leaves and stem leaves with very narrow mid-leaf cells (about 5 µm wide).
Wednesday 16 July: Cama’ Choire (NN7079 and NN7179)
Wednesday’s jolly found us parked at the far end of a very long track just to the north of Sronphadruig Lodge, whence we explored the lower reaches of Cama’ Choire. We had elected to explore this east-facing valley more because of its remoteness rather than in expectation of finding base-rich ground, and to begin with the bedrock of acidic quartzite did indeed yield a calcifugous flora, which included Hygrobiella laxifolia and Nardia compressa beside the stream. Philonotis seriata also showed affinity for the streambank, appearing at two places beside the watercourse. Mark Pool did his Sphagnum thing, finding Sphagnum magellanicum, S. russowii, S. tenellum and S. teres. Splachnum sphaericum and Tetraplodon mnioides were there too, and among the liverworts we recorded Anastrophyllum minutum, Douinia ovata, Fossombronia incurva, Jungermannia atrovirens, J. borealis, J. pumila, Scapania paludosa*, S. scandica and S. subalpina.
Pushing further upstream towards the northern and western extremities of the grid-square NN7079, we encountered rock and soil apparently rich in iron, and with calcareous or basic influence. The bryoflora changed accordingly, with Amphidium lapponicum, Anoectangium aestivum, Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens and Molendoa warburgii in evidence. Cololejeunea calcarea, Scapania aequiloba, Campylophyllum calcareum, Distichium capillaceum, Mnium marginatum, both species of Orthothecium and Schistidium strictum completed a respectable complement of calcicoles. Seán found Bartramia halleriana*.
Thursday 17 July: Ben Gulabin (NO1171, NO1172 and NO1072)
Thursday brought yet more wall-to-wall sunshine as we toiled up and around the eastern slopes of Ben Gulabin, near Spittal of Glenshee. We passed much of our morning on acidic felspar, quartzite and schists, but as we moved north some of the schists became associated with a heavily-weathered calcareous sandstone. Mark Pool found Cynodontium jenneri on boulders in scree, and a patch of Ditrichum lineare appeared by a sheep-path. Barbilophozia hatcheri, Grimmia curvata, Pohlia filum, Pterigynandrum filiforme, Splachnum sphaericum and Tetraplodon mnioides went on the list. Climbing on towards the pass into Coire Shith, Mark recorded a number of bog mosses, including Sphagnum girgensohnii, S. molle, S. quinquefarium, S. tenellum and S. warnstorfii. On and among some of them grew Calypogeia sphagnicola, Cephalozia pleniceps, Cephaloziella cf spinigera and Kurzia pauciflora. Scapania uliginosa occurred in a runnel by the stream.
Passing into Coire Shith, we came upon a large expanse of base-rich ground with wet stones and gravel sprouting impressive hummocks of Catoscopium nigritum and less Meesia uliginosa.
Friday 18 July: Delvine (NO1138 and NO1238)
The sun finally forsook us for our last day in the field. Storm clouds gathered and rain fell on the hills around us, but our chosen ground remained dry. After a succession of strenuous days in the hills, we languidly pottered about on shingle and soil banks at Delvine – a fine, open, peaceful place by the River Tay, a few miles downstream from Dunkeld – keeping company with Sand Martins, who flickered and wittered quietly by.
A few minutes into the morning’s exploration, Seán found Syntrichia papillosa on an oak tree, and then Pohlia filum appeared on the riverbank near to Archidium alternifolium*. Riccia canaliculata* and R. cavernosa sprawled over damp mud in a drying lagoon, alongside a little Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum. Mudwort (Limosella aquatica) and the aquatic cabbage Awlwort (Subulariaaquatica) were both in bloom, and another patch of damp mud by sequestered water in an old oxbow carried Needle Spike-rush (Eleocharis acicularis).
With arable bryophytes so topical at present, we felt obliged to close the week’s fieldwork with a few minutes on our knees in a field of arable set-aside. Prayers were answered in the forms of Fossombronia pusilla, Marchantia polymorpha subsp. ruderalis and Phaeoceros carolinianus*.
In the course of our week, we recorded six species that were either new to the vice-county or had not been seen there for over 50 years. Riccia canaliculata and Phaeoceros carolinianus from our day at Delvine are both Red Data Book species, reminding us that many bryophytes are rare because their favoured haunts are rare too. In turn this prompted the reflection that while bryologists understandably head straight for the hills when they go north, in doing so we unjustifiably neglect low-lying habitats and places that may yield uncommon species. Scotland surely has much to offer on low ground as well as high, a notion that we can test again when we sally into north Aberdeenshire next summer.
Queen Mary, London, 5-7 September
Jeffrey G. Duckett
School of Biological Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London , Mile End Road , London , E1 4NS
The Annual General Meeting and Bryological Symposium were held at Queen Mary College , University of London on 5-7 September, with Prof. Jeff Duckett as local secretary. This, the first autumn meeting to have been held at the College, proved to be a popular venue for the bryological diaspora, with a total of 54 members attending the symposium and 20 going on to join the Sunday excursion. Participants were housed in the College’s halls of residence at the Mile End Site overlooking the Regent’s Canal in whose murky depths they were both surprised and delighted to find the local bryological jewel Octodiceras fontanum.
Following the AGM and dinner, delegates strolled back to the School of Biological Sciences . Here durian-flavoured crisps added a ‘je ne sais quoi’ to the general atmosphere, and were devoured with alacrity, as was a large collection of reprints kindly donated to members by Jennifer Ide. Other exhibits included a presentation on William Wilson’s letters to Thomas Lyle by Mark Lawley, a selection of original illustrations for Eustace Jones’ African Hepatic Flora brought along by Herman Stieperaere, and a poster entitled ‘Reinstatement of Plagio chila maderensis , a liverwort endemic to Madeira, based on phytochemical, phylogenetic and morphological evidence’ by David Rycroft, H. Groth and J. Henricks (Glasgow and Göttingen).
A particular treat was a tour of the largest concentration anywhere in Britain of rare and endangered bryophytes: the cultures in the Queen Mary/Kew ex situ programme. Silvia Pressel was literally rushed off her feet as everyone wanted to see protonemal gemmae in Didymodon glaucus, D. tomaculosus, Ditrichum plumbicola, Seligeria carniolica and Zygodon gracilis.
Field excursion to Mereworth Woods and the Medway Valley Walk,
7 September 2003
A mini-bus journey of less than an hour through the Blackwall Tunnel and passing the infamous Millennium Dome saw members in deepest Wealden countryside ( West Kent , v.-c. 16) for the day’s two venues. The field trip was led by Roy Hurr and Jeff Duckett.
The morning excursion was to Mereworth Woods, an extensive area of ancient woodland, Castanea coppice and plantation on Kentish ragstone. Although, consequent on the long summer drought, nothing of note was found in the stubble fields en route to the woods, arabological frustration turned to delight when damp rides and banks within the woods revealed Fossombronia pusilla, Jungermannia hyalina, Scapania irrigua, Archidium alternifolium, Cratoneuron filicinum, Dicranella schreberiana, D. staphylina, Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum, Hypnum lindbergii, Pohlia annotina, P. wahlenbergii and Scleropodium tourettii. David Long produced an impromptu masterclass on separating Riccia glauca, R. sorocarpa and R. subbifurca*.
The bryophyte flora of the old sweet chestnut coppice stools mirrored that of hornbeam woodlands in Hertfordshire, with all three British Orthodicranum species (D. montanum, D. tauricum and D. flagellare); the last species was seen for the first time by many members. Herman Stieperaere demonstrated protonemal plates on Tetraphis pellucidac.fr. Epiphytes on the bases of ash included Anomodon viticulosus and Homalia trichomanoides, and Tom Blockeel found Heterocladium heteropterum var. flaccidum and Plagiothecium latebricola on pieces of ragstone protruding through the woodland floor.
After lunch, in pleasant early autumn sunshine, the party explored the environs of the River Medway from East Peckham. As we strolled along the river bank, mutterings that ‘this is just the place for Hennediella macrophylla* but it isn’t known for West Kent ’ changed to more animated cries: ‘it is now!’. Bare mud in old pits was completely overgrown by willow and alder and yielded only Leptodictyum riparium, while Cinclidotus fontinaloides, Dialytrichia mucronata, Leskea polycarpa , Scleropodium cespitans andSyntrichia latifolia grew on stonework and trees by the river. A battle through two-metre nettles to explore old elders added Bryum laevifilum, Cryphaea heteromalla, Orthotrichum lyellii, Ulota bruchii, U. crispa, U. phyllantha and Zygodon viridissimus var. viridissimus to the card, but in striking contrast to apparently similar elders seen on the Norfolk/ Suffolk meeting in the spring of 2003, there was not a single tuft of Orthotrichum pulchellum.
The mini-bus group was transported back to London to catch their trains after a most enjoyable weekend. It was generally felt that Queen Mary would be an excellent venue when next the Society seeks a London location.