BBS > Activities > Meetings and Workshops > Previous > 2004 Worcestershire
Spring Field Meeting 2004
Worcestershire, 1st - 7th April
After searching throughout Worcestershire, the Malvern area was chosen as the best base for the BBS’s spring 2004 field meeting. Most members booked their own accommodation but 20 stayed at the Christian Conference Centre in Malvern Link, which had meeting rooms and space for microscope work. On most evenings, members met in the Foley Arms in Great Malvern.
Worcestershire is a varied county with hills along its northern, western and southern borders enclosing agricultural land in the Severn and Avon valleys. In the north-west is the extensive woodland area of the Wyre Forest . The Teme, an unspoilt valley, runs through the western edge of the county and joins the Severn just south of Worcester . Wooded dingle valleys, often with travertine (tufa) deposits, run into the Teme.
Worcestershire has been bryologically under-recorded, and has been largely neglected since the days of J.B. Duncan ( Duncan , 1911). During the 1970s and early 1980s, Richard Fisk recorded throughout Worcestershire, and David Holyoak spent a year in the county in the early 1990s. The planning team (Tessa Carrick, Lorna Fraser, Harry Green, Ann Hill, Mark Lawley, Joy Ricketts and Rosemary Winnall) made many pleasurable outings, selecting sites for the BBS visits and simultaneously adding to the county’s species lists. During the BBS week ten further new records were added for Worcestershire (v.-c. 37), and there were eight ‘debracketings’. For Staffordshire (v.-c. 39), two new species were added and there were two ‘debracketings’.
Attendance at the meeting was excellent – more than sixty people, including both very experienced and near beginners. Those present for at least part of the meeting were: Ken Adams, David Antrobus, Dave Barnett, Jeff Bates, Neil Bell, Sam Bosanquet, Tom Blockeel, Tessa Carrick, Rachel Carter, Gill Davis, John Day, Diane Dobson, Joan Egan, Richard Fisk, Lorna Fraser, Mary Ghullam, Polly Glazebrook, Harry Green, Andy Groves, Sally Haseman, Ann Hill, Mark Hill, Nick Hodgetts, Rita Holmes, David Holyoak, Joan James, Roy Jeffery, Telva Jenkins, Elizabeth Kungu, Frank Lammiman, Jill Lang, Richard Lansdown, Mark Lawley, David Long, Niklas Lönnell, Graham Motley, John Mott, Angela Newton, Brian O’Shea, Tim Pankhurst, Jean Paton, Niklas Pedersen, Mark Pool, Ron Porley, Chris Preston, Carol Price, Michelle Price, Rebecca Price, Joy Ricketts, Christine Rieser, Gordon Rothero, David Rycroft, Jonathan Sleath, Justin Smith, Leslie Smith, Rod Stern, Mike Walton, Lorraine Weaver, Rosemary Winnall, Jacqueline Wright and Marcus Yeo.
The local team wishes to thank everyone for recording so energetically. We hope people enjoyed visiting Worcestershire as much as we valued having the BBS in the county. The repeated April showers, hail and mud did not deter anyone for long – after all, bryophytes, and hence bryologists, appreciate a little dampness.
All localities visited are in v.-c. 37, except where otherwise stated.
Thursday 1 April
Twenty-two people drove northwards from Malvern to Wissetts Wood (SO6772), a semi-natural woodland. The boundary with Shropshire runs along the Shakenhurst Brook on the western margin of the wood. The streams and their humid valleys were of major interest, with their calcareous sandstone outcrops and flushes.
Jean Paton and Chris Preston confer in Wissetts Wood
Platygyrium repens was re-recorded here, fruiting abundantly and also including male shoots. When the specimen was submitted to Fred Rumsey to confirm identification, he commented, ‘I’ve seen it fruiting twice by the River Wye in vice-counties 35 and 36, i.e. either side of the river, and George Bloom told me he found capsules on it in Wych Wood (not verified) … otherwise, yours is the only other fruiting record’. This species was first recorded in v.-c. 37 at Wissetts Wood during 2003 but during this BBS meeting it was also found at several other sites. On a rock in the Shakenhurst Brook, Mark Pool found Trichostomum tenuirostre var. tenuirostre*. Seventy species of moss were noted in total.
Twenty-four liverwort species were found, and so it was particularly good to have Jean Paton with us to confirm identifications. Eight of these liverworts, including Plagiochila britannica, had not been recorded in Wissetts Wood previously. Ann Hill discovered Cephaloziella divaricata on a path, and Mary Ghullam found Jungermannia atrovirens on tufa beside Mill Brook.
In the Shropshire part of the wood Mark Lawley noted 16 liverworts and over 40 mosses.
On the return journey, Cryphaea heteromalla and Leskea polycarpa were found at Ham Bridge on the River Teme (SO7361). C. heteromalla was also recorded on a willow at Southstone Rock in Rock Coppice (SO710640). Richard Fisk noted ten species in a stubble field nearby.
That evening Harry Green talked about Worcestershire. Harry has been chairman of the British Trust for Ornithology and of Worcestershire Wildlife Trust (WWT), and is currently WWT’s Honorary Officer for Conservation and a board member for Worcestershire Biological Records Centre; he also produces Worcestershire Record.
Friday 2 April
The Wyre Forest occupies about 3,000 hectares, mostly in Worcestershire and Shropshire (v.-c. 40), with a small section in Staffordshire (v.-c. 39). The BBS visited the site briefly during the 1959 Birmingham meeting (Paton, 1960). Some further recording was done by a University of Birmingham extramural group (Greene & Clarke, 1962), although their findings are not in the current Census Catalogue (Blockeel & Long, 1998); Sphagnum quinquefarium, for instance, remains bracketed. Hawksworth & Rose (1969) also mention bryophytes of Wyre Forest .
The Forest lies on Carboniferous Coal Measures, chiefly sandstones and shales; soils are mainly acid and typically support Quercus petraea, although partly planted with conifers. It rises from 22 m altitude beside the Severn to about 160 m. The Dowles Brook, which runs into the Severn , and its tributaries have basic flushes and calcareous patches with travertine, and there are a number of wetter areas and a derelict railway track. As the more interesting Wyre sites are relatively delicate stream valleys, the party was split into five groups, each with a local leader. This also resulted in greater coverage of the site.
Harry Green’s group went to Gladder Brook (SO786714), a steep-sided and shaded valley in Ribbesford and Areley Woods, and to the banks of the Severn nearby (SO786734). The stream is mentioned for its bryophytes in Amphlett & Rae (1909). This group found 23 liverworts, including the rare male gametophyte of Porella cordaeana* on the lower bole of an ash tree above the Gladder, and Blepharostoma trichophyllum on a small ledge in sandstone rock in the ravine above the stream. The 60 or so mosses included Plagiothecium latebricola. By the Severn , Mark Hill recorded the often overlooked Brachythecium mildeanum, which was later found elsewhere within the county.
Mark Lawley led a group to the wet area of Hawkbatch, Seckley Ravine and the nearby bank of the Severn (SO7677), all in v.-c. 39. Seckley Wood is frequently mentioned in Amphlett & Rae (1909). At the riverside were Hennediella stanfordensis* and Orthotrichum sprucei*, and in the ravine Orthotrichum stramineum* and Zygodon rupestris* were recorded. Twenty liverwort species were also found.
A third group worked upstream from Furnace Mill Fisheries along Baveney Brook (SO7076) in v.-c. 40. Only part of the brook was examined and it is likely that more species are yet to be recorded at this site. Finds included Trichocolea tomentella.
Rosemary Winnall, who has lived and worked in the Wyre Forest for many years, led a party to Park Brook (SO7576) in v.-c. 39. This is a fairly steep, wooded valley, with base-rich flushes, calcareous rocks, and bogs, lying in the heart of the Forest . Jean Paton’s presence was invaluable, as 30 species of liverwort were recorded, including Bazzania trilobata, Jungermannia pumila, Leiocolea turbinata, Lejeunea lamacerina, Ptilidium pulcherrimum, Saccogyna viticulosa, Scapania nemorea, S. undulata and Trichocolea tomentella. Mosses included Bryum pseudotriquetrum, B. subapiculatum, Eucladium verticillatum, Hookeria lucens, Leucobryum glaucum, L. juniperoideum, Trichostomum brachydontium and T. crispulum.
This group went on to the Great Bog (SO7476), which proved notable within Worcestershire for the presence of four species of Sphagnum (S. fimbriatum, S. inundatum, S. palustre and S. subnitens). Richard Fisk found Entosthodon obtusus* on wet clay at the edge of a track.
Mark Lawley at Worcestershire's "Great Bog"
The final group, led by Tessa Carrick, walked through Hitterhill Valley (starting at SO770763). Among the 25 liverworts were Barbilophozia attenuata, Bazzania trilobata (including a plant growing on rhododendron), Calypogeia muelleriana, Jungermannia gracillima, J. pumila, Lejeunea lamacerina, Lepidozia reptans, Nowellia curvifolia, Riccardia chamedryfolia, Saccogyna viticulosa, Scapania nemorea and S. undulata. Mosses included Bryum bornholmense*, found by Rod Stern on soil in an open area, B. subapiculatum, Fissidens dubius, both species of Leucobryum, Platygyrium repens and much fruiting Hookeria lucens.Polytrichum longisetum occurred in two places on trampled paths.
Moving on to WWT’s Knowles Coppice Reserve (SO7576) the more agile clambered down the steep slope to the bank of the Dowles Brook to find Bazzania trilobata, Calypogeia muelleriana, Jungermannia atrovirens, Lepidozia reptans, Saccogyna viticulosa and Scapania undulata, with the mosses Eucladium verticillatum, Hookeria lucens and Neckera crispa. In a wet flush on the banks of the old railway route (SO761765), Sam Bosanquet and Mark Pool found four species of Sphagnum, including S. capillifolium*.
Saturday 3 April
The Malvern Hills reach almost 400 m altitude and extend about seven miles from north to south. They are largely igneous Precambrian rock. The Malvern Hills Conservators manage the hills and some of the adjacent commons on the river terraces to the east and woodland to the west.
About fifty people assembled in the car park at the foot of the Herefordshire Beacon. Most climbed the hill and scattered over the hillside, peering down rabbit holes to search for Schistostega pennata. Several holes had a good growth, and the sun’s angle was perfect so that the mosses glowed. Frank Lammiman was heard to say, ‘this is what I came to see’.
Looking for Schistostega
When it was mentioned at the 2003 spring meeting in Norfolk that Buxbaumia aphylla had recently been found fruiting in Worcestershire by Joy Ricketts, no-one thought we would find it again. But there it was at SO7639, on crumbling soil alongside the footpath, in two patches with four and eight capsules respectively (see Figure 1). Few had seen this species in Britain previously, and a series of bryologists lay on their sides on the path to photograph the capsules. The Malvern Conservators have been advised of its presence and asked to ensure that the edge of the path is not damaged.
Further on, Grimmia trichophylla was on a rock on Hangman’s Hill, but more exciting was the occurrence close together on another rock of G. laevigata (see Figure 2) and a good growth of Pterogonium gracile. Nine liverworts were recorded on the east side of Herefordshire Beacon, a surprising number for a Malvern habitat.
After lunching together, groups dispersed in different directions. Lorna Fraser and Diane Dobson confirmed that Hedwigia ciliata var. ciliata was still to be found at SO7744. Others scoured the floor of a quarry on Worcestershire Beacon (SO769412). Here, David Long collected a Fossombronia to cultivate to confirm his suspicion that it was F. incurva*. Other finds were Ptychomitrium polyphyllum, Tortella tortuosa and Tortula lanceola.
John Day , a local naturalist, took a small group to a damp part (SO7839 and SO7939) of the extensive Castlemorton Common. This yielded Pleuridium acuminatum and Pseudephemerum nitidum in a Juncus flush, as well as Syntrichia laevipila var. laevipilaeformis* (found by Mark Pool and Richard Lansdown). Bryum bornholmense turned up again. In Park Wood (SO762442), with its limestone outcrops, Frank Lammiman and Christine Rieser noted Ctenidium molluscum and Neckera complanata. Meanwhile, Mark Hill recorded species from two ‘very dull’ arable fields.
Sunday 4 April
The party gathered at Woollas Hall Farm car park (SO945409). Forty-seven people set off, passing through deciduous woodland, to the steep northern scarp slope of Bredon Hill. Bredon is an outlier of the Cotswolds, and, like them, is capped by Oolitic Limestone. Uneven grassland leads to steeper grassland with exposed limestone. Part of the slope is a National Nature Reserve.
The few liverworts on Bredon Hill included Lophozia excisa (found by Sam Bosanquet), Porella platyphylla (recorded by David Long) and Scapania aspera in the turf. Rhodobryum roseum occurred on an anthill, below a small limestone exposure. Extensive banks of Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus led Mark Hill to remark, ‘as good as it gets’. Encalypta vulgaris with capsules was on a high crag. Several Seligeria species were found by Sam Bosanquet, including S. pusilla on a shady rock face, S. calcarea*, S. donniana* and S. recurvata*.
Tom Blockeel recorded Entodon concinnus* in several places, and Bryumdonianum * from a rocky ledge with B. capillare. Ron Porley found Weissia controversa var. crispata * on soil in a crevice on a limestone outcrop.
In a nearby field at St Catherine’s Farm (SO9540), 21 species were recorded for the Survey of the Bryophytes of Arable Land (SBAL). Ron Porley and Sam Bosanquet found Weissia squarrosa* and also W. longifolia var. angustifolia, the second record of this species in v.-c. 37.
Monday 5 April
Numbers dwindled after the weekend but about 30 people visited the long-established rhubarbfields on the east side of the River Severn at Holt Fleet (SO825639). Sphaerocarpos texanus was discovered here by Harry Green during 2003. On this occasion the Sphaerocarpos colonies collected were identified as S. michelii by both Liz Kungu and Ron Porley. The site held 15 species of moss and two hepatics. Fields where the rhubarb was less mature, with sparser canopy, had the most species. The nearby sage field (SO823642) contained Riccia sorocarpa and seven mosses.
Other arable fields were surveyed for SBAL, and three churchyards in the east of the county were visited. The fields yielded between three and 20 species. Didymodon nicholsonii turned up in both Cropthorne (SP000452) and Fladbury (SO9946) churchyards. During the week, this species proved to be more widespread in the county than previously recognised.
Most people visited Osebury Rock (SO7355) on the bank of the River Teme, not far from its confluence with the Severn . Species found included Lejeunea lamacerina, Bartramia pomiformis, Cinclidotus fontinaloides, Dialytrichia mucronata, Leskea polycarpa and Neckera complanata; Orthotrichum cupulatum was recorded on the asbestos roof of a shed. On a nearby rock exposure in a field, Lophozia excisa was of most interest.
Jean Paton and Richard Fisk went to the challenging Hayley Dingle (SO759540), where they found Zygodon viridissimus var. stirtonii*. At the margin of an arable field above the north-west edge of the dingle, they recorded Entosthodon fascicularis*. Later, by the North Quarry of the Malverns (SO771469), they noted Metzgeria furcata growing on Buddleia.
Tuesday 6 April
The Hillwood Estate comprises a number of ancient, unmanaged dingle woodlands, with streams, an old orchard and arable land. In the orchard everyone was impressed by the huge growths of mistletoe bearing berries. Most people ventured down the slippery, steep sides of Death’s Dingle (SO668678), through Ramsons (Allium ursinum), Hart’s-tongue (Phyllitis scolopendrium) and numerous Toothwort (Lathraea squamaria) plants, to the stream with its travertine rocks , and then struggled up again for lunch. There were extensive mats of bryophytes, often fruiting. Twenty-one species of liverwort were recorded, including Jungermannia atrovirens, Nowellia curvifolia and Plagiochila britannica. Noteworthy mosses were Ctenidium molluscum, Dichodontium pellucidum, Eucladium verticillatum, Neckera complanata and luxuriant Palustriella commutata. It is interesting to compare the Death’s Dingle bryoflora with a similar site at nearby Shelsley Walsh (Pentecost & Zhaohui, 2002).
Mill Coppice (SO668673) was less interesting but contained Metzgeria fruticulosa, M. furcata and M. temperata. The party moved quickly to Foxholes Coppice (SO660673), with its stream running through virtually untouched woodland that lacked footpaths. The stream, again with zones of travertine, was dramatic, rich with bryophytes and very attractive, but it became difficult to negotiate as it narrowed. The bryophytes here were similar to, but not as diverse as, those in Death’s Dingle. Among the species recorded were Lejeunea cavifolia, L. lamacerina, Eurhynchium schleicheri, Hygrohypnum luridum, Leptodictyum riparium, Palustriella commutata and Pohlia wahlenbergii.
Wednesday 7 April
About ten people remained for the final morning at Larford (SO8169), an area of mixed habitat including long-established set-aside, industrial debris, bare sandy patches, encroaching bramble, woodland, a small pool, concrete blocks and the bank of the River Severn. While there, we all witnessed the full courtship display and mating of a pair of Mute Swans. Bryophytes recorded included a range of Bryum, Didymodon, Orthotrichum, Syntrichia and Tortula species, Radula complanata, Aloina aloides, Drepanocladus aduncus, Leskea polycarpa and Ulota phyllantha, a mix that reflects the variety of habitats.
Other localities visited during the meeting
During the week, Mark Pool recorded Syntrichia papillosa* and S. virescens* from Malvern itself. The River Teme is well known not only for Cinclidotus fontinaloides, but also for C. riparius. The distinction between the two species has been discussed by Blockeel (1998). A group visiting Ham Bridge (SO7361) was unable to reach the river’s edge, but Richard Lansdown examined the concrete footings of the older iron bridge at Stanford Bridge (SO714657) and found both species, C. fontinaloides being slightly higher above the water than C. riparius. Species lists were also made for Leigh Sinton vicinity, St Leonard ’s churchyard at Cotheridge, Elgar’s Birthplace car park, Devil’s Spittleful WWT reserve near Kidderminster , and the Knapp and Papermill near Alfrick.
The success of the meeting is due to the local team, helped throughout by Mark Lawley and by Rosemary Winnall in the Wyre Forest . Thanks go to all who allowed us access to their land and to Mr and Mrs Leveratt of the Christian Conference Centre for making us welcome and comfortable. I would also like to thank those who looked at early drafts of this report.
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Duncan JB. 1911. Notes on the old collections of mosses in the herbarium of the Hastings Museum, Victoria Institute, Worcester . Transactions of the Worcestershire Naturalists’ Club.
Greene SW, Clark MC. 1962. The bryophytes of the Wyre Forest . Proceedings of the Birmingham Natural History and Philosophical Society20: 3-22.
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Pentecost A, Zhaohui Z. 2002. Bryophytes from some travertine-depositing sites in France and the U.K. : relationships with climate and chemistry. Journal of Bryology24: 233-241.