BBS > Activities > Meetings and Workshops > Previous > 1981   
     

Meetings of the BBS - 1981

 

Spring Field Meeting 1981

Stowmarket, 8-14 April

Strategically placed astride line of longitude 1°E, the dividing line between the Vice-counties of East (Vc 25) and West (Vc 26) Suffolk, Stowmarket provided a central base for the Spring Meeting (8-14 April) facilitating ready access to all corners of the county. Thirty-two members attended the meeting and between them contributed some 1,480 records for 28 of the Suffolk 10 km squares, and some 32 new Vice-county records. We were pleased to welcome several new members from Suffolk, and the laboratory at Coombs Middle School, a short walk from the Cedars Hotel headquarters, made possible some instruction in microscope techniques during the evenings. Each morning the party kept together, exploring well known sites and giving instruction to beginners, and after lunch split up to explore underworked squares in the vicinity, with the impending deadline for the mapping scheme very much in mind. In the following account * refers to confirmed new Vice-county records.

9 April (Vc 26). In the morning members explored several Breckland heath remnants, under the guidance of Dr Whitehouse, in delightfully warm sunshine. At Icklingham Plain, Rhytidium rugosum, Racomitrium canescens var. canescens, Rhynchostegium megapolitanum, Climacium dendroides and Ptilidium ciliare were seen, and among others Bryum inclinatum and Campylopus introflexus were added to the list for the site. Members were also shown Pleurochaete squarrosa on a roadside bank. Sadly, as the party left to make its way to Cavenham Heath, Derek Foster had to return home owing to ill health, the last many of us were to see of him. In Ash Plantation at Cavenham Heath *Pellia neesiana by a swamp stream was a welcome surprise, but Trichocolea tomentella was not refound. One party devoured the first of their packed lunches from the Cedars by a patch of Crassula tillaea in full flower at Temple Bridge, and then carried on down the track to visit Tuddenham Heath. Although nothing was added to the list for the site, Lepidozia reptans with sporophytes and Rhizomnium pseudopunctatum are worth a mention. The rest of the party consumed their packed lunches at the back of a rather busy nearby pub., and then went on to seek (but not to find) Dicranum polysetum in the conifer plantations at Brandon Park. Beginners were, however, very pleased to find an extensive patch of Polytrichum longisetum with borders so wide that the leaves appeared striped from some distance away. The party then subdivided to explore nearby squares; the churchyard and castle moat at Lidgate yielded Frullania dilatata, Metzgeria fruticulosa and *Fissidens pusillus var. tenuifolius; the churchyard at Hawstead *Rhynchostegiella ten ella var. tenella, *Barbula cylindrica and *Brachythecium populeum; and a rape field at Bradfield Combust Sphaerocarpos michelii and *S. texanus.

10 April (Vc 25). Members arrived in force at Notcutts Nurseries in Woodbridge and competed for attention with customers inspired by yet another delightfully warm spring day. After being retrieved from a seed patch with handfuls of the delightful Mibora minima (fortunately regarded as a weed) the party was let loose on some fallow beds to the north-east of the main centre and quickly fell upon hands and knees. The search was rewarded by finding both Sphaerocarpos michelii and S. texanus (plus an annoyingly similar gregarious alga) together with Riccia glauca, R. sorocarpa and an abundance of *Marchantia alpestris. A brief look at a potted-plant enclosure revealed very little, but the discovery of Barbula rigidula carpeting the trunk and branches of a Malus sp., heavily encrusted with lime and sopping wet from a continuous spray of water from a hose fixed above it, provoked learned comment of an ecological flavour. The party then proceeded to explore a stream that ran through the gardens, suitably furbished with a variety of rocks, and found Barbula tophacea, B. trifaria, B. vinealis and *Gyroweisia tenuis, before reclining on the lawns to demolish a well-earned packed lunch and to pose for a group photograph. After lunch the Cherry Tree beds to the south-west of the main centre were explored. Nothing exciting turned up, but a voucher of *Pellia endiviifolia was collected for Vc 25. The party then split into groups and dispersed to investigate five different 10 km squares, all returning with reasonable lists (including *Tortula subulata var. angustata, from a wood near Shottisham); except for the group that ventured into some roadside woodland at Seven Hills, Nacton and were seen off by the estate manager in no uncertain terms. The y were, however, rewarded with better pickings later in the afternoon. After a long hot walk down to the shore at Levington beginners were pleased to see Fissidens incurvus, F. exilis, F. bryoides and F. taxifollus growing together in nearby woodland. On returning to the cars Sphaerocarpos michelii was found growing abundantly with a yellow-flowered Amsinckia in a beet field.

11 April. Having been rather spoilt by the unseasonable warmth and smarting from incipient sunburn, members did not look very happy as they assembled in driving rain on the Norfolk side of Redgrave Fen and were not even amused as our guide's map, sketched in fibre-tipped pen, dissolved before their eyes. The rain soon eased off, however, and exploration began. These watershed fens have suffered in recent years from excessive extraction of water from the chalk aquifer that normally tops up the fens throughout the drier months, and the list of species found was but a vestige of its former richness. The fens yielded little other than * Eurhynchium speciosum (Vc 26), Ctenidium molluscum, Drepanocladus aduncus and Chiloscyphus sp. In some scrubby woodland along the southern margin an attempt to make Dicranum scoparlum into D. majus proved ill-founded. Despite extensive forays into the dense rain-soaked sallow beds of Middle Fen (Vc 27), the only epiphytes found were Dicranoweisia cirrata, Orthotrichum diaphanum, O. affine and a few scraps of Ulota crispa. The latter is apparently on its way out in this area, having already been largely exterminated further south, probably the result of a steady increase in rain acidity. After lunch the skies cleared and warm sunshine inspired the exploration of Market Weston Fen (Vc 26), where younger members were able to see the sort of bryophyte flora that used to be found at Redgrave. Plagiomnium elatum and Eurhynchium speciosum abounded around the base of sedge tussocks; Fissidens adianthoi des, Campylium elodes, C. stellatum and C. polygamum were found in the open fen to the east of the main track; and Ctenidium molluscum and Sphagnum subnitens to the west of the track. Homalothecium nitens, recorded here in 1979, was not refound and despite careful searching could not be found by the parties that went on to visit Hopton and Thelnetham fens (both Vc 26). At Hopton Fen *Dicranum tauricum was found on a willow and *Tortula virescens was also new; and at Thelnetham Fen Calliergon giganteum, Campylium polygamum and C. stellatum were recorded. On the way back from the fens a brief visit to Knettishall Heath (Vc 26) revealed the presence of an abundance of Ptilidium ciliare (and little else), but as most parties converged on Wortham Ling (Vc 25) hoping to see Leptodontium gemmascens, found there on rotting grass by Peter Wanstall and Alan Harrington a few weeks before, the day was made by finding it in abundance over a wide area of the heath. Although mostly confined to a black sticky paste formed by rotting grass the Leptodontium was also found growing up the stems of gorse, and despite its apparent rarity in Britain several people managed to establish cultures from the abundant gemmae, suggesting that its requirements may not be that exacting and it may well have been overlooked in this type of habitat.

12 April. Billed as a free day, members nevertheless visited the suggested venue of Mickfield Meadow Reserve (Vc 25) to see the Fritillaries coming into flower in the morning and then went on to work no less than eleven 10 km squares during the afternoon. New Vcr's for the day were *Tortula virescens by the Gipping at Stowmarket (Vc 25), *Gyroweisia tenuis at Ringshall Churchyard (Vc 26) and *Fossombronia pusilla plus *Isothecium myosuroides for the Bulls Wood Reserve at Cockfield (Vc 26).

13 April ( Vc 26). Members assembled at Felshamhall Wood (Bradfield Woods) in the morning in a biting wind and added several species to the list from the asbestos cement roof of the hut, including Orthotrichum diaphanum and O. anomalum, while waiting for Oliver Rackham to show the party round. Along Shady Ride a large diameter oak stump was carpeted with Tetraphis pellucida sporting abundant capsules, a rare site in eastern England. Most of the effort was concentrated on exploring a damp area in Plantation Fell. Although Herzogiella seligeri could not be refound, Plagiothecium latebricola was abundant on tree bases and *Dicranum montanum was found on oak stumps and a hazel stool. In all fifteen species were added to the list for the wood. During the day several parties converged on Arger Fen, an area of marsh and woodland belonging to Col. Heyland, and the nearby (Sabre-toothed) Tiger Hill, the last of the south-Suffolk heathland s. At Arger Fen a swampy stream drained into an Alder swamp in the valley among abundant Chrysosplenium alternifolium. Plagiothecium latebricola was found here, and Calliergon stramineum further upstream. At Tiger Hill a small grazed area of heathy grassland over glacial gravel, with little of note other than Dicranum scoparium, descended into the remnants of Tiger Hill Wood. *Pohlia lutescens was found in rabbit holes and on bare ground under bushes, and *Metzgeria fruticulosa in abundance on an old elder.

14 April (Vc 25). A biting cold wind again greeted the party, now somewhat depleted, on their arrival at the Walberswick Bird Reserve. but spirits rose as we penetrated Fen Covert, an extensive area of swampy secondary woodland with several acres of Sphagnum carpet. Although S. teres was not refound, there was an abundance of S. squarrosum, S. fimbriatum, S. palustre and scattered patches of *S. auriculatum var. inundatum. As the party penetrated further to the east the going became very swampy and much older woodland was encountered; here were found *Rhizomnium pseudopunctatum, Dicranum bonjeanii, Cephalozia connivens and *Hypnum mammillatum. An abundance of Thuidium tamariscinum growing among Sphagnum palustre made for the unusual. Out in the keen wind again, Ptilidium ciliare was searched for in vain amongst the heather, but Bryum bornholmense was winkled from the car- park area. In the af ternoon, fortified by the last of the Cedar's packed lunches, most members headed for home, but one small intrepid party ventured south to Westleton Heath, to find little other than Orthodontium lineare and Cephaloziella divaricata (starkei) on peat among the heather; and thence to an equally boring Dunwich Heath where, despite having had to pay to enter onto the heath, everyone other than Eustace Jones rapidly returned to the cars rather than face the wind. Once down by the dyke that separates the heath from Minsmere, however, the sun could be appreciated; Riccia fluitans was found here growing with Hypericum elodes. On the way back to Stowmarket a final stop was made at Framlingham where the castle walls and the river floodplain were explored adding 46 species to the card for the square.

Once back in Stowmarket the survivors made for the Magpie, hoping for a quick enjoyable meal at the only place in town that appeared able to rustle-up food in less than an hour, - only to be disappointed - it happened to be their one night off! Had the Cedars been able to deliver meals at a reasonable price and in a reasonable time the Spring Meeting would have been a far more pleasant and congenial gathering. Fortunately the fine weather more than compensated for the inconvenience. Thanks are due to Dr Whitehouse, Richard Woolnough (Suffolk Trust), Colin Ranson, John Shackles and Geof. Radley (NCC) for helping to arrange the itinerary at such short notice.

KENNETH J. ADAMS

 

Summer Meeting 1981

Newtonmore & Crianlarich, 21 July-4 August


First week: Newtonmore, Inverness, 21 -28 July

Exactly twenty-five years after the last BBS meeting on Speyside, Newtonmore was chosen as the base for a fresh look at the region's bryoflora. It was hoped to demonstrate a range of habitats and local specialities to those unfamiliar with the area, and to look at some poorly-known localities as a contribution to the mapping scheme. Speyside is famous for its pine forests, ospreys, marshes, and the Cairngorm massif to the south with its tundra-like summit plateau, spectacular corries, late snow-lie areas and associated arctic-alpine flora and fauna. Excursions were planned to cover not only these mountains, but also some of the surrounding hills and several lowland habitats. Wallace (1957) in his report of the Aviemore meeting, provided an excellent guide to the district's bryoflora, along with earlier accounts by Wilson & Wheldon (1908) and Wheldon & Wilson (1910).

This year's meeting was well-attended with fourteen participants: Gerard Dirkse, Nol Luitingh and Huub van Melick (Netherlands), Donal Synnott (Ireland), Peter Bullard, Lindsay Kerr, Martin Crundall, Michael Fletcher, Peter Martin and Jean Paton (England) and Philip Lightowlers, David Long, Claire Geddes and Sandy Payne (Scotland). Several of these braved the rigours of the local camp-site and midges; others preferred more comfort, but all enjoyed the hospitality of the HQ hotel and its kilted landlord during the week.

21 July for most entailed a long rail or road journey northwards; Jean Paton and David Long paused briefly at the Falls of Truim near Newtonmore (96) where Scapania lingulata, recently added to the British flora, was found in a new locality on rocks by the river.

22 July was wet and overcast but suitable for several lowland sites; firstly Creag Dubh near Newtonmore (96), an area of Betula woodland overshadowed by steep cliffs. Numerous woodland species were seen but the acid screes were of greatest interest with Antitrichia curtipendula in huge cushions, Frullania fragilifolia and two local specialities, Cynodontium jenneri and C. tenellum, the last having its stronghold in Britain in this area.

After lunch we assembled at the RSPB reserve at Insh (96) where the warden, Russel Leavett, kindly led a waterproof-clad group through dripping birch and juniper down to the margin of the extensive marshlands spreading across the valley. In places poor fen occurred and swards of Sphagnum subsecundum s. str. were conspicuous, some plants with capsules, interestingly the first record of fruiting in Britain. On the way to the marshes Dicranum tauricum, Rhodobryum roseum and Plagiomnium affine were found in the woodland Despite the rain and poor light, most people carried on to the picturesque Loch an Eilein, Rothiemurchus (96) with its ruined castle, where Ptilium crista-castrensis, although not rare in the district, was a novelty for several; a hurried search for limestone on Ord Ban did produce fine Tortula princeps on a wall and Lophozia longidens on a boulder.

23 July. This first of several mountain days dawned grey and wet but we stuck to the scheduled walk up into Coire Chuirn (96) in the poorly-known Drumochter Hills where basic rock had been reported by Alan Crundwell. The bryoflora was found to be quite rich. In basic flushes below the N-facing cliffs Barbilophozia lycopodioides, Harpanthus flotowianus, *Moerckia hibernica and Tritomaria polita were found, and on cliffs and detached boulders nearby Ditrichum zonatum, Grimmia torquata, Kiaeria blyttii, Herbertus stramineus, Radula lindenbergiana and Scapania aequiloba. After lunch the party braved the windswept plateau above where Derek Ratcliffe had reported Sphagnum lindbergii and Splachnum vasculosum many years ago. The Sphagnum eluded us but our second Moerckia of the day, M. blyttii, was seen on bare peat. We descended a small valley in the next grid square northwards, which proved to have some very fine flushes, in places pink with Bryum weigelii; Philonotis seriata was also common and amongst it some small patches of Splachnum vasculosum were detected. Philip Lightowlers spotted some beautifully gemmiferous Oedipodium griffithianum on soil amongst unstable scree, and Herzogiella striatella, another 'specialty' of the district, grew on a turfy ledge by the burn. On the way home sheets of exposed mud by Loch Ericht (96), though attractive from the road, proved almost completely barren, but a single rosette of Haplomitrium hookeri lurking amongst clumps of Juncus justified the diversion.

24 July. Creag Meagaidhu (97). In 1956 the BBS visited the spectacular, and bryologically rich, Coire Ardair but we chose the lesser-known Coire Choille Rais (or Moy Corrie) which entailed a steep climb, tackled energetically by all with only brief halts to look at red deer and a rather red liverwort, Pleurozia purpurea, on wet peat - an indicator of more oceanic conditions. Several hours were spent in the corrie but few of the Coire Ardair specialities were found. Nevertheless, other nice finds were made, firstly in block scree at the lip of the corrie, with Hylocomium umbratum, Lescuraea patens, and Anastrophyllum donianum. Donal Synnott collected some very fine Plagiothecium platyphyllum in a flush by the loch. The cliffs and scree on the north side of the loch were then explored and Jean Paton turned up some good hepatics - Diplophyllum taxifolium, Lophozia opacifolia, Marsupella adusta and M. alpina, but the best find of the day was res erved for Donal Synnott in his discovery of Rhizomnium magnifolium at the base of a wet cliff. A brief excursion to the plateau above and summit ridge by David Long produced abundant Marsupella brevissima and a little M. condensata and Ditrichum zonatum in the mist.

25 July. Saturday had been reserved for what we hoped would be a spectacular bryological feast, namely the summit plateau of the Cairngorms, and in this our optimism proved to be amply justified. For speed and to rest tired limbs (but not without soul-searching by some) principles were cast aside for the comfort of the Cairngorm chair-lift which whisked us up into the mist at 4000 feet. After a short walk to the summit and some compass-navigation we descended the steep footpath through Coire Raibert out of the mist into the huge amphitheatre of the Loch Avon valley in the county of Banff (94) which seemed mild and humid after the exposed summit. Loch Avon lies at 2400 feet and is of particular interest not only for the rare species previously recorded there, such as Andreaea nivalis and Polytrichum sexangulare, but also as the only locality where Anastrophyllum donianum has ever been found with sporophytes, by R. K. Greville in 1830. We made our way to the SW end of the loch, noting *Campylopus introflexus on the way, and spending about an hour searching the fine block scree, before (and during) lunch. In the deep recesses we found luxuriant mossy turf with oceanic species such as Dicranodontium asperulum, Anastrophyllum donianum, Bazzania tricrenata, *B. trilobata, Scapania gracilis and *Lepidozia pearsonii. A few cushions of Chandonanthus setiformis grew on the boulders. Nearby, on another large block, a tuft of *Paraleucobryum longifolium was collected by Sandy Payne, a species thought to be extinct in Britain and thus a most important and exciting discovery.

After lunch we climbed the steep rocky slope by the Feith Buidhe burn; in scree Anastrophyllum donianum was abundant but apparently all sterile, along with patches of Scapania nimbosa, S. ornithopodioides and a little *Brachythecium glaciale. On wetter slopes higher up Donal Synnott again found *Rhizomnium magnifolium, amongst extensive sheets of Moerckia blyttii with sporophytes, Dicranum glaciale, Pohlia ludwigii, Polytrichum sexangulare, *Anthelia juratzkana, *Harpanthus flotowianus and *Lophozia opacifolia. Several small patches of an as yet unidentified Bryum were also seen. Deteriorating weather accelerated our ascent on to the Feith Buidhe plateau above, to look at the late snow-lie areas, this year with little snow persisting. Patches of *Ditrichum zonatum and a little *Haplomitrium hookeri were noted but careful searching by Jean Paton revealed numerous interesting hepaticae - Diplophyllum taxifolium, Gymnomitrion apiculatum, Marsupella alpina, M. condensata, M. stableri, Nardia breidleri and Pleurocladula albescens. Andreaea nivalis and Marsupella sphacelata grew luxuriantly on stones in a snow-melt stream. A brisk walk back to Cairngorm and descent on foot completed a highly successful day.

26 July. To the west of the main Cairngorm massif lies Glen Feshie (96) where the 1956 meeting made several important bryological discoveries in the upper part of the glen. We chose a side valley, Goire Garbhlach, less well-known but with outcrops of basic rock and entailing a comparatively gentle walk. The scree below the cliffs was steep and unstable and we worked along the base of the cliffs, gullies and buttresses. In the scree and turf Lepidozia pearsonii and Plagiochila carringtonii were detected in small quantity. The basic cliff ledges proved quite rich with the following list: Amphidium lapponicum, Anoectangium warburgii, Arctoa fulvella, Dicranodontium uncinatum, Hypnum hamulosum, *Isopterygiopsis muellerana, Meesia uliginosa, Mnium thomsonii, Orthothecium intricatum, O. rufescens, Philonotis tomentella, Herbertus stramineus, Jungermannia borealis, J. confertissima and *Scapania calcicola. Wet flushed slopes had luxuriant growth of Tritomaria polita, Cratoneuron decipiens and Rhizomnium magnifolium, all under rather basic conditions. After lunch on a precarious but panoramic ledge the party climbed out on to the plateau to enjoy the sunshine and magnificent view; time permitted only a brief look in the flushes by the stream entering the corrie, where Philonotis seriata, Pohlia ludwigii and Scapania paludosa were noted. we walked back over Meall Dubhag where two dotterel were studied before descending to the glen below.

27 July. After four consecutive mountain days, thanks to fine weather, a less strenuous lowland day was planned for the last day. First was a guided tour of a dead sheep on boggy ground in Glen Banchor (96), detected by Mrs Paton the year before, and now colonised by four members of Splachnaceae, Tetraplodon mnioides and Splachnum ampullaceum with abundant capsules, and sterile Aplodon wormskjoldii and Splachnum sphaericum, a rare and remarkable (and much-photographed) sight. We then drove to Loch Garten, Abernethy Forest (96) famous for its ospreys which were duly inspected, followed by a leisurely stroll through the nearby pinewoods. A search for Buxbaumia aphylla was unsuccessful, but the junipers produced Ptilidium pulcherrimum and Sphenolobus helleranus, old stumps *Orthodontium lineare and Cephaloziella rubella and amongst leaf litter Ptilium crista-castrensis and Dicranum polysetum. The valley bog between Loch Garten and Loch Mallachie was of interest for several Sphagna and associated small hepaticae - Barbilophozia kunzeana, Calypogeia sphagnicola, Cephalozia leucantha and C. loitlesbergeri. The lochside provided a comfortable picnic site, before moving on to a famous bryological site - the Lochan Uaine (Green Loch) at the Pass of Ryvoan, celebrated for its scree slope with Cynodontium strumiferum and Anastrophyllum saxicola. Both were seen as they had been in 1956, but just as interesting were several plants not noted there before, on gravel by the Allt na Feith Duibhe, namely Fossombronia incurva, *F. fimbriata, Haplomitrium hookeri, Nardia geoscyphus and Riccardia incurvata, and nearby Lophozia longidens on juniper and Diplophyllum obtusifolium on a bank. This rounded off a very pleasant day, a fitting end to the week.

The meeting demonstrated that even a relatively well-known area like Speyside can yield interesting new records; most gratifying were the find of Paraleucobryum longifolium, new records for Rhizomnium magnifolium, Fossombronia fimbriata, Scapania lingulata and Sphagnum subsecundum with fruit. Lophozia opacifolia was found to be common on all the mountains visited, and the two records of Tritomaria polita extended the known range of the local species. A total of 321 species were seen during the week, records compiled for ten grid squares, and four site-reports compiled for the NCC and RSPB. I would like to thank John Birks, Jean Paton and Sandy Payne for help with planning the week, landowners for access and those whose cars provided transport for us.

REFERENCES

WALLACE, E. C. (1957). Report of the summer meeting in Scotland, 1956. Trans. Br. bryol. Soc. 3: 342-345
WHELDON, J. A. & WILSON, A. (1910) . Inverness and Banff cryptogams. J. Bot. Lond. 48: 123-129
WILSON, A. & WHELDON, J. A. (1908). Inverness-shire cryptogams. J. Bot. Lond. 44: 347-356

D. G. LONG


Second week: Crianlarich, Perthshire, 28 July - 4 August

Eighteen took part in the second half of the 1981 summer meeting at Crianlarich, a diverse assortment including professional botanists, students, research students, a school teacher, a pharmacologist, an officer of the Forestry Commission, three Dutchmen and an Irishman. Crianlarich does not have the facilities one would hope for in the ideal headquarters and nobody was able to stay in the headquarters hotel because it was booked-up by a coach party, but Tyndrum is worse, and for a meeting in W. Perthshire and E. Argyll there is nowhere else. Hospitality in guest houses ranged from lavish, trout and bacon for breakfast, to chilly, in the only large house which would accept single bookings. The weather happily made up for the shortcomings of the headquarters and by the time the participants returned each evening their mood was languid rather than discriminating. Almost 400 species were seen on the seven excursions. The most rewarding excursions were to Beinn an Dothaidh and Ben Oss, both of which were formerly poorly known but both of which turned out to be rich bryological sites. Beinn a'Chreachain, which was completely unknown before, also had a few pleasant surprises. The most interesting new finds were probably Odontoschisma macounii in its third British lo cality, Ditrichum plumbicola in its second Scottish locality, Scapania parvifolia In four new sites and "Barbula jamesonii"+ on two mountains from which it was not known, or where it had not been seen for many years.

[+ This plant, although once identified as that species by Zander, is not B. Jamesonii, but a different species. A name (Bryoerythrophyllum sp.) will be published by D. Long.]

29 July. Beinn an Dothaidh 27/325410 and Beinn Dorain 27/325290

One or two of the party had visited Beinn Dorain, where "Barbula jamesonii" grows, before, so the interest of that mountain was already well known. Beinn an Dothaidh had recently been visited by the BSBI who were excited by its vascular plants, so although its bryological interest was unknown, most of the party were keen to go to Beinn an Dothaidh, in the hope of finding a new site for "B. jamesonii". This was not found but there was much else of interest. We walked up the N. side from Achallader and stopped on the way to look at the E.-facing rocks at 328416, where we saw Plagiochila carringtonii. Most of the party spent most of the day on the N-facing cliffs which have a lot of basic rock. Here we found Bryum dixonii, Encalypta alpina, E. ciliata, Isopterygiopsis muellerana, Oncophorus virens, Oedipodium griffithianum, Orthothecium intricatum, O. rufescens, Plagiopus oederi, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Haplomitrium hookeri, Jungermannia subelliptica, Leiocolea heterocolpos, Mastigophora woodsii, Scapania calcicola, S. ornithopoides and S. nimbosa. Towards the top of the cliff there are gullies which probably hold patches of late-lying snow, with Arctoa fulvella, Kiaeria blyttii, K. falcata and K. starkei, Pohlia ludwigii, Anthelia juratzkana, Moerckia blyttii and Pleurocladula albescens. Three members climbed across to the NW. and W. sides of Beinn an Dothaidh where they found, besides some of the plants already listed, L eptodontium recurvifolium, Mnium thomsonii and Harpanthus flotovianus. Odontoschisma macounii was found in at least three spots on Beinn an Dothaidh, on the N. cliffs and on the W. side, making this its third British station.

Two or three members went on to Beinn Dorain in the afternoon but were not able to spend long there, and still did not find "Barbula jamesonii". On the lower slopes of the N. side they saw Herzogiella striatella, Orthothecium rufescens and Radula lindenbergiana, but Calypogeia trichomanis was the only noteworthy plant not seen on Beinn an Dothaidh.

30 July Ben Lui 27/265265

The excursion to Ben Lui was kindly led by David Long, while the local secretary returned to Edinburgh for the day. Mrs Burton, one of the Crianlarich landladies, arranged for the party to approach Ben Lui by way of Cononish and to park at her son's farm. Crossing the railway on the track to Cononish is an adventure in itself. The crossing gates have large Forestry Commission padlocks and there is a telephone beside the gates connected to the signal box at Crianlarich. Anyone wishing to cross the line by car telephones the signalman, who tells them the time the last train left Crianlarich and comments rather non-committally on the likelihood that it has passed Tyndrum. With this trap for unwanted but unwary visitors, Mr Burton and the Commission appear to find it unnecessary to lock the padlocks.

On the way to Stob Garbh (280271), the party stopped at an old lead mine beside Allt an Rund (277275) and found Ditrichum plumbicola, a second Scottish locality about four miles from the first at Tyndrum. Campylopus schwarzii was found in a sinkhole on the other (S.) side of the stream.

On the low cliffs of Stob Garbh there is a rich calcicole flora with several western hepatics; Gymnostomum insigne, Mnium thomsonii, Myurella julacea, Philonotis tomentella, Apometzgeria pubescens, Diplophyllum taxifolium, Jungermannia confertissima, J. subelliptica, Mastigophora woodsii, Plagiochila carringtonii and Scapania degenii were found. A lot of "Barbula jamesonii" was also seen, but with only modest excitement here where it was found in 1891. Anoectangium aestivum, A. warburgii and Gymnostomum insigne were all found fruiting. Beneath the cliffs are basic flushes with Calliergon trifarium, Meesia uliginosa, Sphagnum warnstorfii and Tritomaria polita.

One or two members went on to explore the smaller N-facing corry and the summit of Ben Lui. They found Oncophorus wahlenbergii, Anastrophyllum donianum, Anthelia juratzkana, Plagiochila carringtonii, Pleurocladula albescens and Marsupella stableri, but failed to find Odontoschisma elongatum or Polytrichum sexangulare which have been recorded from Ben Lui.

31 July Meall na Samhna 27/485334

We climbed Meall na Samhna from Glen Lochay, to see Aongstroemia longipes which grows at the end of the Hydro Electric Board road above Low Botaurnie. We assembled at Low Botaurnie bridge half an hour late, after the Nature Conservancy's Avenger, following at a very safe distance in the BBS convoy, sustained a broken windscreen from a stone thrown up by the car in front with a red rear number-plate. A solicitous lady rushed from her house with a brush and dust-pan, while the driver of the car with the red number-plate drove on oblivious. The Nature Conservancy's car was abandoned at Hamish MacGregor's Garage in Killin. Mr MacGregor located a replacement windscreen in Dundee and had it fitted by the time the party passed through Killin in the evening.

From the end of the Hydro Board track, where Jean Paton also found Fossombronia incurva, we walked to the head of the Allt Inniscaorach, looking in some of the flushes on the way, where we found Oncophorus virens and Calliergon trifarium. The cliffs above the head of the stream, some of the flushes at the foot of the cliffs and the long gully of wet scree which is the source of the stream, have a very rich flora with many more rare mosses than any of the sites visited so far: Aulacomnium turgidum, "Barbula jamesonii", Cratoneuron decipiens, Cinclidium stygium, Dicranella grevilleana, Encalypta alpina, Hypnum bambergeri, Meesia uliginosa, Myurella julacea, Oncophorus virens, O. wahlenbergii, Plagiothecium cavifolium, Rhizomnium magnifolium, and Timmia norvegica. There were also several commoner mosses which we were surprised to see on cliffs at 800m: Barbula spadicea, Brachythecium glareosum, Entodon concinnus, Homalo thecium lutescens. Mr Townsend found Dryptodon patens fruiting. Among the hepatics were Apometzgeria pubescens, Barbilophozia lycopodioides, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Jungermannia borealis, J. confertissima, Leiocolea heterocolpos, Scapania degenii and S. scandica. Meall na Samhna was the first of the four places on the meeting where Scapania parvifolia was found, each time, apart from one happy accident for the local secretary, by Mrs Paton who modestly comments "clearly not as rare as previously thought".

1 August Crannach 27/352458; Loch Tulla 27 295425; Beinn a'Chreachain 27/373441

Crannach is a native pinewood, with a railway and a line of pylons running through it. For the second time we parked our cars at Achallader, and walked to Crannach along the track. Much of the wood was disappointing, one suspects it is too dry, and before diesel engines took over the West Highland Line, sparks from the funnels of steam engines regularly set it on fire; but Mrs Paton found Scapania scandica and Sphenolobus helleranus, and Mr Long, Antitrichia curtipendula. Mrs Paton also found again Scapania parvifolia, on the banks of the Water of Tulla.

After lunch half the party returned to L. Tulla, where, on the NE. shore, Campylopus subulatus ('very fine'), Pohlia filum ('very fine and abundant' with P. bulbifera and another bulbiliferous Pohlia without bulbils) and Odontoschisma elongatum were found. The latter was found again at the SE. corner of the loch. One member swam.

The other half of the party climbed to Coire an Lochain on Beinn a'Chreachain (370445) where, on the predominantly acid cliffs, they found Oedipodium griffithianum, one or two flushes with Rhizomnium magnifolium and Scapania paludosa, and at least one small area of basic rock near the top of the corry at c. 370443 with Plagiomnium medium, Plagiothecium cavifolium and Lescuraea patens.

2 August Free day

Most of the party visited Ben Heasgarnich which, after a few exchanges at cross purposes with the farmer at Kenknock, they now know should be pronounced 'Hesnick' (they are still unsure how to say Kenknock). Many of us missed some of the well known rarities, but found Campylopus schwarzii, Cratoneuron decipiens, Ditrichum lineare, Hylocomium pyrenaicum, H. umbratum, Isopterygiopsis muellerana, Kiaeria falcata, K. starkei, Marsupella brevissima, Nardia breidleri, Scapania parvifolia and S. uliginosa. Two of the group who searched the lower part of Coire Heasgarnich saw Odontoschisma macounii, Aulacomnium turgidum and "Barbula jamesonii".

Mr Long went to Meall Ghaordie, again looking for "Barbula jamesonii", and he found Cratoneuron decipiens, Mnium thomsonii, Oncophorus wahlenbergii, Rhizomnium magnifolium, Barbilophozia quadriloba, Marsupella stableri, Scapania degenii and Tritomaria polita.

Mr and Mrs Stern went to Loch Dochart 27 406257 and Loch Lubhain 425268 where they found Odontoschisma elongatum and to Creag an t'Sasunnaich which was dull but had some small patches of basic rock.

3 August Glenfalloch Woods 27/322201; Stuckindroin 27/319147; Clifton/Lochan na Bi 27/325305 - 308313

Monday was the only day of wet weather; we spent a dismal morning in the woods of Glenfailoch where, nevertheless, Jamesoniella autumnalis, Tritomaria exsecta and Frullania fragilifolia were found. There was Isothecium holtii on boulders in the river.

After lunch we visited the wooded ravine at Stuckindroin, where the farmer allowed us to park in the farmyard and told us all about the best spots for mosses in the neighbourhood, strongly recommending Ben Oss. Along the stream and in the ravine we found Sematophyllum micans on wet sloping rocks, Harpanthus scutatus on a peaty bank and Leptoscyphus cuneifolius on birch trunks. Higher up, where the ravine is deeper, Herbertus aduncus ssp. hutchinsiae, Bartramia hallerana and Frullania microphylla grow on the cliff-like NW-facing rocks.

We returned to Crianlarich early, but finding the weather improved and their spirits revived a few members drove to Tyndrum to see Ditrichum plumbicola on gravel from old lead mines beside the river. Around the mine-workings above and to the E. of Tyndrum, black Cephalozia bicuspidata and sometimes green, but often yellow, purplish or black, Jungermannia gracillima grow in sheets, in soil which seems able to grow nothing else. Bryum tenuisetum was found at Loch na Bi.

4 August Ben Oss 27/288253

Not realising that summer meetings usually finish on the second Tuesday, the local secretary had planned a seventh excursion. He was flattered that most of the party stayed for it and we were all gratified by the fine weather returning. The convoy crossed the railway at Tyndrum safely for the third time and we left the cars again at Cononish. From Cononish we walked up to the more or less N-and W-facing cliffs of Ben Oss across the lower slopes of Beinn Dubhcraig. On the cliffs, and in the flushes of the North side of the hill, the following were found: Bryum dixonii, Gymnostomum insigne, Isopterygiopsis muellerana, Leptodontium recurvifolium, Mnium marginatum, Pohlia filum, Schistidium trichodon, Calypogeia trichomanis, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Harpanthus flotovianus, Jungermannia borealis, J. confertissima, J. subelliptica, Leiocolea alpestris, L. heterocolpos, Lophozia obtusa, Moerckia hibernica, Plagiochila carringtonii, Scapania cuspiduligera, S. parvifolia, S. scandica , Tritomaria polita.

Most of the party worked their way back, retracing the trail of footprints and cigarette ends, but Mr Long and Mr Fletcher climbed on to the summit of Ben Oss (Marsupella brevissima) and the E-facing cliffs in vc 87, where they found Ditrichum zonatum var. scabrifolium, Pohlia ludwigii, Moerckia blyttii, Scapania nimbosa and S. ornithopodioides, all new records for vc 87. Not content with the summit of Ben Oss, Mr Long went on to the summit of Beinn Dubhcraig where he collected Nardia breidleri and Anthelia juratzkana, also new to vc 87.

I had a lot of help in preparing the programme for the meeting from David Long and Dr David Chamberlain, who suggested places to visit. Peter Wormell, Dr Rick Keymer and Dr Rosalind Smith of the Nature Conservancy Council kindly put me in touch with or asked permission on our behalf of most of the landowners whose land we crossed. The landowners, farmers and gamekeepers were, without exception, agreeable and helpful. I am very grateful. I am also grateful for the enthusiasm and appreciativeness of the members who attended the meeting.

P. H. PITKIN


 

AGM and Symposium Meeting 1981

Lancaster, 19-20 September

The paper-reading meeting held in the Department of Biological Science, University of Lancaster, on the weekend of September 19-20, was ideally situated to provide a convenient meeting place for members from all over Britain. It was therefore pleasing to see that England, Scotland and Wales were all well represented by those members who had taken advantage of the opportunity. They were well rewarded by the high standard and variety of topics covered by the speakers, who were introduced by the Vice-President. Contrasting pictures of the bryophyte floras of areas close to Lancaster were presented and a look at aquatic bryophytes from the Antarctic reminded us that similar adaptations have been reported in the English Lake District. Also included was an interesting survey of historical changes in the British bryophyte flora and a wide-ranging and thoughtful consideration of conservation needs. In some ways, the latter was complemented by the speaker who advocated photographic re cording of species and went on to demonstrate his skills in the art. Summaries of these papers are given below.

Dr M. C. F. PROCTOR (Exeter): "Mosses and liverworts of the Malham Tarn district."

Malham Tarn lies almost midway between John o 'Groats and Lands End, and close to the Pennine watershed; with its varied topography and geology, its surroundings have a rich and interesting bryophyte flora. The district lies in one of the major areas of Carboniferous Limestone in Britain. Calcicole species are conspicuous, and a number of rare limestone species have their British headquarters here, e.g. Pedinophyllum interruptum, Zygodon gracilis, several Seligeria spp. Acid substrata include Carboniferous shales and grits and Lower Palaeozoic slates, and glacial drift and peat The mire complex of the Tarn Moss and fens is a major element in the habitat diversity of the immediate surroundings of the Tarn. Bryophytes are important in defining some of the main phytosociological divisions in mire vegetation, which in turn provide a useful framework for comprehending patterns of bryophyte distribution and suggesting the habitat factors that determine them. Like other hilly areas, the Malham district is a meeting place of northern and southern species. The latter tend to favour sheltered or south-facing lowland sites ( e.g. Isothecium striatulum, Cololejeunea rossettiana) while the former generally occur at higher altitude and often in shady or damp north-facing situations (e.g. Distichium capillaceum, Orthothecium rufescens, Pseudoleskeella catenulata, Anastrepta orcadensis); some similarities and differences in the distributions of these species were discussed.

Dr P. FERGUSON and Dr J. A. LEE (Manchester): "Sulphur pollutants and the growth of Sphagnum species in the Southern Pennines."

The disappearance of Sphagnum species from the blanket bogs of the Southern Pennines has occurred during the last 200 years. Several factors may have been responsible for this, but atmospheric pollution is a probable cause. Experimental fumigations of several Sphagnum species with SO2 have demonstrated that the most abundant species in the region to-day, S. recurvum, is the most resistant to this pollutant and other species formerly abundant, e.g. S. imbricatum and S. tenellum, are very sensitive to it. A similar response has been demonstrated in artificial rain experiments conducted at an unpolluted bog in North Wales with the solution products of SO2, ¯ ¯HSO3 and ,¯SO4. These experiments were performed with concentrations of sulphur pollutants within the range of those likely to have occurred in the past in the S. Pennines, and so it is probable that these pollutants have at least contributed to the disappearance of Sphagna there.

Since the clean air acts the levels of sulphur pollutants have fallen dramatically in towns and possibly also in rural areas. Transplants of Sphagna into high watertable sites in the blanket bogs of the S. Pennines still grow very poorly compared with transplants to similar situations in North Wales. The cause of this is still being investigated, and may involve an interaction between present-day atmospheric sulphur and nitrogen pollutants and previously deposited pollutants stored in the peat.

Dr J. H. DICKSON (Glasgow): "Recent additions to the Quaternary moss flora."

Dr H. J. B. BIRKS (Cambridge): "Rare and endangered bryophytes in the British Isles: a case for conservation."

For its size Britain supports one of the richest bryophyte floras in the world, with many Atlantic, Continental, and Arctic or Arctic-Alpine species growing at or near their northern, western, and southern limits respectively. The purposes of nature conservation were discussed. The holistic concept of nature conservation is of little direct use in practical conservation of wildlife. Economic aspects (forestry, agriculture, fisheries water use) frequently conflict with wildlife conservation. The main purpose of nature conservation is cultural, both scientific-educational and aesthetic-recreational.

Within the British bryophyte flora, conservation interests should centre on those species whose survival is currently threatened by the rapid loss of natural and semi-natural habitats in Britain.

Threatened endemic or near-endemic species (6 in total) include Cephalozia hibernica and Herbertus borealis. Threatened rare species (plants with one or a few localities; 61 species) include Seligeria carniolica, Leiocolea rutheana, and Acrobolbus wilsonii. In addition there are 22 locally rare species that appear to be declining, including Homalothecium nitens, Orthodontium gracile, and Orthotrichum obtusifolium.

The present rate of habitat destruction in Britain is such that all natural or semi-natural habitats will have been reduced by at least 50% in the next 20-30 years. Major threats to bryophytes include coastal development, mire drainage, changes in land-use in both the lowlands and the uplands, woodland loss, changes in countryside practices, atmospheric pollution, stream and river pollution, and collecting.

Dr J. PRIDDLE (Bangor): " Bryophytes in Antarctic lakes."

Aquatic mosses are an important element in the benthic vegetation of some nutrient-poor Antarctic freshwater lakes. Studies have been carried out on Calliergon sarmentosum (Wahl.) Kindb. and Drepanocladus cf. aduncus, which dominate the benthos of Moss Lake, Signy Island, South Orkney Islands.

The lake had an extreme irradiance environment in winter, with ice and snow on the surface drastically reducing incoming solar radiation. In spite of this, net O2 production by the moss community (measured in situ) was recorded in August, only two months after midwinter. The moss community was estimated to be above compensation for c. 10 months each year. Laboratory studies confirmed very low compensation irradiances for both species of moss at normal lake temperatures. However, compensation irradiances were greatly increased at higher temperatures, suggesting that the survival of aquatic mosses under low winter irradiances may be attributable partly to very low respiration rates at ambient lake temperatures.

Both species exhibited robust morphologies with large leaves and long internodes. Shoots of terrestrial Calliergon sarmentosum cultured in the lake or submerged in the laboratory also developed this habit. Increased Leaf Area Index of the robust morphology may also be a factor in the survival of mosses in low irradiance conditions but it appears to arise in response to some other stimulus. The growth form of aquatic Calliergon was very plastic, the species forming dense stands of microphyllous stems in shallow water but growing as robust stems intermixed with Drepanocladus in the deeper parts of the lake.

The presence of dense stands of aquatic moss increased habitat diversity in the lake and contrasted with the other major component of the benthos which was an undifferentiated algal 'felt'. Moss stems were colonized by a wide variety of epiphytic algae and attached and free-living microfauna.

Dr S. R. EDWARDS (Manchester): " Bryophyte photography."

Photography was considered solely as a means of collecting and recording as much useful information about bryophytes as possible. Although general and habitat shots are certainly valuable, the lecture was restricted to magnifications of x1.0 and higher because of limited time. The particular value of x1.0 as a standard was stressed not only for comparison between slides, but also between slide and moss. It was noted that dry mosses are easily wetted (rather than vice versa), so for comparative purposes a wet shot should always be included.

Having briefly considered the functions and merits of a Single Lens Reflex camera, we looked at the simplest flash and camera setup which can be carried around as a unit to "hammer bryophytes whilst on the trot". The problems of single-flash photography, such as illuminating very close subjects and reducing contrast, were considered. We then discussed the best kind of lens to use for various magnifications, and the practical problems associated both in the field and indoors.

Photography, particularly in close-up, is the art of compromise. At high magnifications the Depth of Field shrinks dramatically, needing very small apertures; but such apertures cause an overall loss of sharpness due to diffraction. To help decisions to be made, graphs were shewn of D. o. F, (against aperture at varying magnifications from x0.1 to x10) and also of resolution (using the same format). This second graph was primarily designed to read resolution on the ground rather than the film, so that a bryologist could easily see what size cells or spores would be resolved. Examples were shewn using Plagiomnium undulatum at x1.0, where the 15µm cells were resolved at wider apertures, but vanished when the lens was stopped down to achieve better D. o. F.. P. affine, having cells of 30-50µm, can, however, usefully be photographed at smaller apertures.

Being able to measure cell size is obviously useful in identifying mosses from slides, but it was stressed that this wasn't the sole criterion. Several other aspects were considered, such as balancing available light with flash, and using teleconverters for effect, but in particular the use of the 24mm f / 2.8 wide-angle lens, reversed, for magnification of about x7.5, was recommended. The lens should be one of those with "floating elements" to correct aberrations when focussed close. Eight advantages were given for the use of such a lens:
1) short focal length needs fewer tubes;
2) competitive focal length, thus both good and cheap;
3) doubles as wide-angle;
4) almost exactly half 50mm standard lens' length, thus making calculations neater;
5) floating elements give excellent image at about 1:7 (normal closest focus), and reciprocally at about x7 when lens reversed;
6) retrofocus design gives good working distance, e.g. 45mm at x7.5, which is nearly twice focal length of lens;
7) pupillary magnification (i.e. optical asymmetry) for this kind of lens is generally 2.0, making aperture calculations easier;
8) f / 2.8 gives much needed extra brightness for focussing.

Our final speaker was Dr S. W. GREENE who, in his Presidential Address, discussed ways in which the Society might develop in the future. This was followed by the annual general meeting (Minutes in Bulletin 40) and, in the evening, by a conversazione during which a number of exhibits were displayed. These included the following.

Mr D. G. Long: Barbula jamesonii and related literature
Dr H. L. K. Whitehouse: Aulacomnium palustre with gemmae in agar culture.

Despite the depressing weather prognosis, the Sunday excursion was bright but cold. Roeburndale Woods, Lancashire (Grid ref. SD6066) were visited first. These are northern mixed deciduous woods lying on Carboniferous shales and sandstones that give a range of neutral to acid soils. The woods were chiefly notable for the luxuriance of the bryophytes. Among the species recorded were: Barbilophozia attenuata, Jungermannia atrovirens, Epipterygium tozeri, and Rhytidiadelphus subpinnatus. After lunch at Ingleton, the wooded ravine of Ling Gill, W. Yorkshire (Grid ref. SD 8078) was visited. Trees of ash, elm, birch and aspen clothe the sides of the ravine which is cut into Carboniferous Limestone. The moist sheltered conditions have resulted in a rich bryophyte flora, among which the following species were recorded: Apometzgeria pubescens, Pedinophyllum interruptum, Hylocomium brevirostre and Seligeria acutifolia. Tortula subulata var. graeffii was found on a wall by the roadside where the cars were parked. Epipterygium tozeri and Rhytidiadelphus subpinnatus were new county records, both for VC 60. I am very grateful to those members who supplied lists of species, particularly for the Roeburndale Woods from which no comprehensive bryophyte list exists. Any further additions would be gratefully received.

A. J. C. MALLOCK

This was an enjoyable and worthwhile meeting and, for his efforts in making it so, the Society is indebted to Dr Malloch. Heavy over-night rain threatened the success of the field excursion but events suggested that even the weather was under control.



Taxonomic Workshop 1981

Thames Polytechnic, Woolwich, London, 28-29 November

The eighth Taxonomic Workshop was held on November 28-29 at Thames Polytechnic, London, by kind permission of Mr M. D. Morisetti, head of the School of Biological Sciences. The meeting was well attended, with eighteen participants coming not only from London, Essex, Hampshire and Hertfordshire but from as far afield as Wales, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Hereford, Norfolk and Bristol.

Prof. J. G. Duckett took the morning session and clarified the identification of Barbulas, pointing out well-marked field characters as well as distinctive appearances and habitats. Particular attention was paid to distinguishing between confusing pairs of species. Useful hints on technique included chopping leaves to enable flattened pieces to be mounted for observation of cell lengths over nerves.

The afternoon was spent on Sphagna. Mr M. O. Hill spoke on the sections of the genus and supplied an illustrated guide for reference. He listed difficulties met with in identification and demonstrated with the microscope features which, to the uninitiated, are not obvious from printed descriptions. These features included variability of papillae on cell wails in some species. A number of exercises were also set, including the recognition of pore sizes in different species.

The field day in Epping Forest and Balls Park Wood, Herts., produced a fair range of common lowland species. Thus, this latest in the annual series of teach-ins once again proved the need for them and their popularity. Thanks go to Dr P.D. Coker for making all arrangements, and to Mr Hill and Prof. Duckett for generously giving of their time and knowledge.

G.G. GEYMAN

 

 
 
Copyright © British Bryological Society .
.