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Local Meetings of the BBS

Southern Group

Meetings in 2010-11

Hazeley Heath, February 2010
Eighty seven species were found, 10 of which were liverworts. Brachythecium mildeanum, recorded from this site by Alan Crundwell in the bryophyte section of Flora of Hampshire (Brewis et. al 1996), was also refound but is a species that we are finding more frequently now. Eight species of Sphagnum were definitely seen but S. magellanicum and S. molle  that we hoped to find eluded us. Much of the list is accounted for by epiphytes, many of which have markedly increased since Alan Crundwell was recording. Five species of Orthotrichum, including the still relatively scarce O. stramineum were seen together with three species of Ulota. In the short daylength we did not survey the whole area so the site would merit a further visit. Fred Rumsey

Waverley, Farnham, Surrey, 5 November 2010
This field meeting investigated the Surrey Wildlife Trust open access nature reserve in a meander loop of the northern Wey near Waverley Bridge, part of Moor Park. It is on Lower Greensand with springs that flow into the Wey, acid habitats, although the immediate riverside is less so due to the chalk stream origin of the Wey at Alton. Tree trunks, sandy banks, walls, stream gullies along the footpath at the top of the site were investigated, before descending the path into the reserve that is essentially an alder carr on low ground by the river. Finally a brief investigation was made of the walls of Waverley Abbey.
Forty-four species of bryophytes were recorded, mostly reflecting the acidic substrata and epiphyte habitats with some fruiting Cryphaea heteromalla, Ulota bruchii and leafy liverworts including Porella platyphylla. More lime-demanding species were found on an old World War 2 pillbox and the ruins of Waverley Abbey.  June Chatfield

Crab Wood and West Wood, Winchester, January 2011
This is a locality known for the rare cheese snail and visited a few years ago by the Conchological Society and it was interesting to see that molluscs and mosses gave a similar ecological interepretation. Only three turned up on this very cold day of short daylength. We found a range of woodland species reflecting the calcareous chalk soil and some epiphytes including Orthotrichum stramineum but not in quantity. The impression is of a comparatively dry habitat affected by winds on the upland site. June Chatfield

Dunford House, Midhurst, 27 March 2011
This meeting, originally scheduled for December, had to be delayed because of a foot of snow on the ground on the original date. However, despite the delay it was well worth the wait. On 27th march some 12 keen bryologists came out on a nice warm sunny day instead. Dunford House is found on the Wealden greensand close to Midhurst, West Sussex. We looked at a variety of habitats like woodland, streams, garden lawns, walls and old earth banks. With regard to the stream which springs out of the ground at the base of the downs, a mile up stream there is some chalk stream interest like the Chiloscyphus polyanthus as well as Fontinalis antipyretica. There is some nice wet woodland as well as dry and we found Rhytidiadelphus loreus on the woodland floor with Dicranum majus and on a rotting log some Nowellia curvifolia. All in all we found some 80 bryophyte species including two new 10 km records: Epipterygium tozeri and Didymodon insulans. It was a really great bryological day out. Bruce Middleton

Meetings in 2007

Jacqueline A. Wright

15 Blenheim Way Horspath, Oxford , OX33 1SB ; ivan@shotover-wildlife.fsnet.co.uk

Snelsmore Common SSSI, Newbury, Berkshire (v.-c. 22). 14 th January 2007 .

Snelsmore Common is well known by many bryologists, and several BBS members have recorded there over the years. It was the first site that the Southern Group visited back in November 1991 so this was a welcome return visit for Jeff Bates who had recorded there on that occasion, along with Alan Crundwell and others.

Snelsmore Common is a rich mosaic of diverse habitats from valley mire and lowland wet heath to birch woodland, open dry gravelly heath and remnant ancient woodland. Resident Exmoor ponies and visiting Dexter cattle now graze the site, and monthly work parties do the rest in keeping gorse and birch under control.

There was a conservation work party on the day of our visit, and they were having fried parsnips and jacket potatoes over a fire for lunch. We had been advised food wasn’t normally allowed on site because of the ponies; but we had special dispensation to eat our packed lunches, so despite being tempted to defect to their group for the day, we soldiered on and diligently planned for a covert lunch out of sight of the ponies. They could obviously tell the time though, and appeared from nowhere; pestering us endlessly the minute we sat down to eat.

The valley mires are the obvious attraction of the SSSI and a dozen species of Sphagnum have been recorded there over time. We too succumbed to ‘the magic of the mire’ for part of the day, and found ten: S. capillifolium, S. papillosum, S. fallax, S. palustre, S. fimbriatum, S. cuspidatum, S. compactum, S. magellanicum, S. subnitens and S. denticulatum. We didn’t find the previously recorded S. flexuosum or S. tenellum .

Other pleasures of the mires, apart from getting side-tracked into finding the rare fungus Poronia punctata on wet horse dung (alas it was too fresh for any Splachnum ) were a few waxy thalli of Aneura pinguis , large amounts of Aulacomnium palustre and occasional stems of Calliergon stramineum amongst the Sphagnum . At the smaller end of the scale and with close searching, we uncovered 61 a few patches of the liverworts Calypogeia sphagnicola , C. fissa , Cephalozia connivens , and Lophozia sp . (possibly ventricosa ) (no perianths) which lay hidden at the bases of ‘bad-hair-day’ tussocks of Molinia . We mused over Jeff’s feeling that the upper end of the main bog seems drier now than he remembers it 15 years ago.

In addition to the mires, our aim was to seek out mosses and liverworts of the heath, streamlines and woodland. The heath had us pausing over a small patch of Polytrichum strictum ( alpestre ), Dicranum bonjeanii and Pleurozium schreberi. The dominant moss though was Dicranum scoparium, which did a good job in cheering up the bleak winter heath with its bright-green silky tufts of combed leaves standing out brilliantly against the matt chocolate-brown of the peat.

The steeply banked streamline was running well after all the recent rain, and we were in the right kind of habitat for refinding Hookeria lucsens , apparently seen on the 1991 visit. Indeed we set ourselves the challenge of finding it before lunch but the banks didn’t seem wet enough to my mind and we failed in our quest.

The mixed birch woodland supports rather few epiphytes, but amongst them were Microlejeunea ulicina and large colonies of Platygyrium repens both on willow, Bryum subelegans on elder, and a good patch of Ulota phyllantha on oak. We were surprised to find some tufts of Cryphaea heteromalla also on an oak, but surmised that the young branches of this small oak were possibly not as acidic as the bark on older oaks. Leucobryum glaucum occurred in a modest expanse in one strip of birch woodland and in smaller cushions in other places. Whilst reconnoitring the site I came across a small patch of Plagiothecium undulatum and a few tufts of Climacium dendroides in a small area of seasonally wet pine/birch woodland.

In summary, a diverse and interesting reserve with hours of fun to be had on a crisp winter’s day when your fingers are twitching for a bit of mossing. I am indebted to Keith Tomey, the Countryside Ranger for permission to record at Snelsmore Common.  

 

Meetings in 2004

Sun. 26 th Sept. 04: Leader: Neil Sanderson: e-mail: neilsand@dircon.co.uk

Strodgemoor Bottom and Vales Moor, New Forest. Car Park: SU 188040

Sun. 24 th Oct. 04: Leader: Bruce Middleton: e-mail: bruce@brucemiddleton.freeserve.co.uk

Chithurst Monastry. Exit from the A272 west of Midhurst, north along Chithurst Lane. Car Park: SU 841231

Sun. 14 th Nov. 04: Leaders: Rod Stern & Howard Matcham

Stanmer village and surrounding area. An under-recorded 10km square.

Park in Stanmer village, east of the duck pond by the church. TQ 337096

Sat. 11 th Dec. 04: Leader: Rod Stern: e-mail: rodessa@waitrose.com

Telegraph Hill area, east of Winchester. Car Park at Cheesefoot Head, north of the A272: SU 528277

Sun. 20 th Feb. 05: Leader: Jeff Bates: e-mail: j.bates@ic.ac.uk

Quarry Wood, Bisham. Meet in car park by minor road junction, SU 865856, east of the A404: Privately owned scarp woodland, south side of the River Thames.

Mnium marginatum has been recorded from here in the past.

Sun. 13 th Mar. 05: Leader: Patrick Roper: e-mail: patrick@prassociates.co.uk

Joint meeting with the southeast group. RSPB Reserve at Fore Wood, Crowhurst. Recommended parking is opposite the church at Crowhurst Parish Hall: TQ 758124

All meetings commence at 10.30. BBS Code of Conduct applies.

Account of meetings in 2004

Howard Matcham

21 Temple Bar, Strettington, Chichester , PO18 0LB

Strodgemoor Bottom and Vales Moor, New Forest (v.-c. 11), 24 September 2004

A visit to the New Forest is always eagerly anticipated by our local members for the bryological delights that await us. Today was not an exception, and we were astounded by the amount of Splachnum ampullaceum that we found over the limited area of the New Forest that we walked over. Those of us who know the Forest well were of the same opinion: this was a magnificent display of an uncommon moss, not seen in such quantity previously.

The weedy and invasive Campylopus introflexus was present in vast amounts, as it is on all southern commons, but on this occasion much of it seemed to be of a different form and it wasn’t until later in the day when looked at under the microscope that the penny finally dropped and I realised that we had, in the field, overlooked C. brevipilus, a much more welcome member of the genus. Also present in very small tufts in the more boggy areas was Racomitrium lanuginosum, exceedingly uncommon on lowland heaths in southern England . Eleven species of Sphagnum were recorded, including the local S. molle, and in the wetter pools, entwined in Sphagnum, was the liverwort Cephalozia macrostachya.

Two exceedingly uncommon lichens were found on pine lignum: Agyrium rufum, the first localised record from the New Forest , and Lecidea hypopta, a northern species only recently recorded from southern England from pines in the south-west of the Forest . My thanks go to Neil Sanderson who led this excellent meeting and identified the lichens.

Chithurst monastery, near Midhurst (v.-c. 13), 24 October 2004

We were kindly allowed to visit woodland and a hammer-pond owned by the monks residing at nearby Chithurst monastery. This is an area of ancient woodland, and we recorded 91 species, including five new records from a previously well-recorded 10-km square: Bryum bornholmense, B. radiculosum, B. rubens, Dicranella schreberiana and Orthotrichum pulchellum. Other notable finds were Riccia fluitans in a small pond, Hookeria lucens from a ditch, and Leucobryum juniperoideum on a sweet chestnut stump. However, the highlight of the day had to be the unexpected appearance of a Red Kite flying in tandem with a Common Buzzard.

Bruce Middleton led the meeting with able help from five members of the local group.

Stanmer village, near Brighton (v.-c. 14), 14 November 2004

This meeting was jointly led by Howard Matcham and Rod Stern. Parking near to the village church, Rod almost immediately found Tortula protobryoides on well-trampled soil by the gate leading in to the churchyard. With only two previous records from the vice-county, this was an auspicious start to a day arranged primarily to record a poorly-worked 10-km square. Close by the church is the village pond, where inspection of introduced sandstone blocks revealed a colony of Leptobarbula berica, a species not often recorded from the vice-county. In a small wood composed mainly of ash, we recorded Orthotrichum tenellum on a horizontal branch, and Fissidens gracilifolius on chalk nodules, Returning to the village after lunch, Gyroweisia tenuis and Tortula marginata were found at the damp base of a wall at Stanmer House, an imposing, but disused, country mansion.

The day ended with David Streeter taking us to the nearby University of Sussex where we were able to admire specimen trees of English Elm (Ulmus procera) in one of the few remaining strongholds for this majestic tree left in southern England . Growing on the trunk of one of the trees was a small colony of Syntrichia laevipila.

Telegraph Hill, east of Winchester (v.-c. 11), 4 December 2004

Parking in the car park at the top of the hill we were able to look over the magnificent scenery below, including arable fields that some years previously had been the location for some of the most spectacular examples of ‘crop circles’ in the south. There then followed one of the more bizarre discussions yet heard at a bryological meeting – could an alien civilisation have been responsible? Heaven knows where this may have led us but thankfully the non-alien Rod Stern found Microbryum curvicolle and Pottia davalliana (Microbryum davallianum), and sanity prevailed. More surprisingly, the chalky soil also yielded Bryum bornholmense, not usually found in such a calcareous habitat.

Wending our way down the hill towards the village of Chilcomb took us along a wood-lined footpath where amongst other shrubs grew a fine Buckthorn (Rhamnus catharticus) clothed with epiphytes. Trunk and branches had fine colonies of the liverworts Cololejeunea minutissima, Metzgeria fruticulosa and M. furcata, and several tufts of Orthotrichum tenellum. The churchyard in the village had a gravestone with a good covering of Hygrohypnum luridum, which had been found by Rod Stern on a previous visit, and other headstones possessed tufts of Orthotrichum anomalum. On damp tarmac grew an extensive colony of Didymodon nicholsonii.

As the day drew to a close, the party split into two groups. Neil Sanderson and Andy Cross ventured into chalk grassland where they discovered Abietinella abietinum var. histricosa (Thuidium abietinum subsp. hystricosum), Ditrichum gracile, and a candidate for D. flexicaule that is still awaiting confirmation.

We approached the cars in gathering dusk and those of us of a more nervous disposition, myself included, remembering the conversation of the morning, glanced apprehensively over our shoulders but the apparition that approached out of the gloom was only our kindly leader, Rod Stern.

Account of meetings in 2003

Rod Stern

15 Selham Close, Chichester , PO19 5BZ

Ringwood Forest (east) (v.-c. 11), 19 January 2003

This was one of the best-attended excursions, led by Rod Stern. The day was mostly fine but there had previously been heavy rain and some parts of the site were flooded. A wide range of acid-loving species was seen. The best of these were Lophozia ventricosa (found by Bryan Edwards), which is rare in Hampshire, and Odontoschisma denudatum , which is confined to the south-west of the county.

Adhurst Estate (v.-c. 12), 23 January 2003

This property is just within v.-c. 12, near Liss. It had been recommended by Francis Rose, who met us at the start but was unable to be with us for our survey. Fred Rumsey, who is Regional Recorder for North Hampshire, led the meeting. The main interest is the riverine woodland bordering the River Rother, which contains alders and willows rich in epiphytes. Over 80 species were found, including Epipterygium tozeri on the riverbank, and several were additions to the 5-km square records of Alan Crundwell.

Chappetts Copse and Hen Wood (v.-c. 11), 8 March 2003

Rod Stern led the excursion to these adjoining woods, which are on chalk with some acidic drift material on part of Hen Wood. Chappetts Copse belongs to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and we were accompanied by Gwynne Johnson, a leading Trust member who lives nearby. It is one of the best sites in Britain for Narrow-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia ) but we were too early to see any sign of that. The bryophytes were not without interest, and included Cololejeunea minutissima ,Leptodon smithii and Seligeria calycina .

Hen Wood has recently been bought by the nearby Bereleigh Estate from the Forestry Commission, and the Estate’s forester Ron Patrick joined us for our visit. Several calcicoles were seen, but the most interesting species were mainly on acidic soils in the upper part of the wood. These included Diplophyllum albicans , Lepidozia reptans, Leucobryum juniperoideum, Polytrichum longisetum and Rhynchostegiella litorea . However, we failed to refind Diplophyllum obtusifolium , which was seen here by the leader over 20 years ago.

Crockford Bridge (v.-c. 11), 19 October 2003

This was another good meeting led by Neil Sanderson in the New Forest . The main interest here is the old marl pits, which have a wide range of mainly calcicole species. These include Riccardia incurvata , Calliergon giganteum, Campylium elodes, Drepanocladus cossonii, D. revolvens and Scorpidium scorpioides . We also saw species of acid habitats in the nearby heathland and bogs, including Riccardia latifrons , Splachnum ampullaceum, Warnstorfia exannulata and, on a stream bank, Fossombronia foveolata (third record for v.-c. 11).

Beacon Hill National Nature Reserve (v.-c. 11), 22 November 2003

Rod Stern led the meeting at this site where the main interest is the steep chalk grassland, which supports a good vascular plant flora, including orchids. Barry Goater said that it also has a good population of Silver-spotted Skippers, one of Britain ’s rarest butterflies. It was difficult for us to appreciate this on a day when we battled against rain and wind. There is also an area of semi-natural mixed broadleaf woodland.

The woodland bryophytes were mostly common species on the clay-with-flints; on steeper chalky ground we saw Encalypta streptocarpa and Eurhynchium crassinervium . The south-facing chalk grassland had very few bryophytes – the hot, dry summer probably didn’t help in this respect. The north-facing slope was a little more productive with Fissidens adianthoides , Seligeria calycina and Weissia brachycarpa var. obliqua.

Account of meetings in 2002


Bedelands Farm Nature Reserve (v.-c. 14), 2 November 2002

This was inspected at the request of the Friends of Bedelands Farm Nature Reserve, who do much of the management for the owner (Mid-Sussex District Council). The Reserve is at the north end of the town of Burgess Hill .

Roy Ticehurst, the very enthusiastic leader of the Friends’ team of workers, accompanied us. The site was unknown bryologically but looked promising with meadows and ancient woodland. However, it turned out to be on Weald Clay at its least interesting, and our survey was not helped by rain, which led to the abandonment of the visit in the early afternoon. The meadows were almost devoid of bryophytes and we were able to find only 30 common species in the woodlands. Malcolm McFarlane subsequently made a few return visits and was able to add some species to the list. However, Roy Ticehurst was very pleased with our visit, because the Friends are publishing a list of all the plants and animals that have been recorded in the Reserve.

Woolbeding Common (v.-c. 15), 24 November 2002

This is a National Trust property, and the leader of the excursion was Katherine Hearn. The site comprises heathland with mostly secondary woodland and a few boggy areas. The woodland had Dicranum tauricum and the two Leucobryum species as well as Brachythecium velutinum , which seems to be less common than it used to be in southern England . The boggy areas had Aulacomnium palustre , Calliergon stramineum and nine species of Sphagnum. The weather deteriorated during the day and we finished in steady rain.

List of meetings in 2001

Sat 13 Jan 2001: Shellbridge and Rewell Gravel Pits, Slindon, Near Arundel (note; Atrichum angustatum has been recorded from this site)

Sat 24 Mar 2001: Marlborough Deeps, New Forest. Car park off B3058 at SZ226993. Meeting postponed.

Sun 29 April 2001. Joint meeting with South-Eastern Group. Scotney Castle (National Trust); use NT car park off A21 at TQ 688354. This is an interesting site and if both Groups turn up in force we may have some good finds. Leader Jan Hendey. Meeting postponed.

Sun 16th September 2001. Marlborough Deeps (VC 11).

Sun 28th October 2001. Joint meeting with South-Eastern Group. Scotney castle (see SE Group for details and meeting account).

Sun 18th November 2001. Homecroft Farm, Fittleworth, near Pulborough (VC 13)

Marlborough Deeps (VC 11), 16 September 2001

Neil Sanderson led an excellent meeting, postponed from March because of foot-and-mouth restrictions. Marlborough Deeps comprises an area of old marl pits at the extreme south-west corner of the New Forest. The site has become much overgrown with scrub and woodland since Jean Paton’s South Hampshire Flora of 40 years ago, but there has been some recent opening up by the Forestry Commission.

Most of the calcicole mosses recorded here in the past were seen. These included Calliergon giganteum, Drepanocladus revolvens, Rhizomnium pseudopunctatum and Scorpidium scorpioides, all of these being local or rare in southern England. Trichostomum brachydontium was the second record for VC 11 (in the same 10-km square as the first). A good bonus was the flowering plant Least Bur-reed (Sparganium minimum), which is very rare in southern England.

ROD STERN



Horncroft Farm, Fittleworth (VC 13), 18 November 2001

This meeting was led by Bruce Middleton, who works for South Downs Conservation Board and is advising the owner of Horncroft Farm on its management. There is an interesting diversity of habitats, including wet meadow, pond, streams, woodlands and a field which has been fallow for three years, all on the Lower Greensand. Tortula modica was abundant in the field, and Bryum bornholmense (determined with the aid of the recent paper in the Journal of Bryology) was present; Andrew Branson got his eye in well for Pleuridium acuminatum. Colonisation by non-arable mosses was occurring and we agreed that the field should be ploughed.

Otherwise a wide range of species was seen. Two of the more notable were Drepanocladus aduncus by the pond and Epipterygium tozeri on a stream bank.

ROD STERN

List of meetings at 2000 Sat 16 Sept 2000: Barlavington Estate, Duncton, S of Petworth Sat 11 Nov 2000: Stockbridge Down SSSI (NT Car Pk. on A272 at SU 374346) Sun 10 Dec 2000: Snape Wood (FC), East Sussex

 
 
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