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Meetings of the BBS - 1978


Spring Field Meeting 1978

Carmarthen 5 - 12 April

This was based on Carmarthen, S. Wales, from 5 to 12 April, and though towards the end of the week numbers dropped to about 12, there were 31 participants. Most of these stayed at the headquarters, Trinity College, Carmarthen, where excellent accommodation, food and other facilities were liberally provided. As local secretary I had decided to make a special effort to help beginners and less-experienced members on this meeting, and by arrangement with Trinity College set up a laboratory for our use. Members were invited to bring along their microscopes and other equipment for indoor work. The exercise was a great success and I thank many of the more experienced members for lending innumerable guiding hands throughout the week. The vice-county of Carmarthenshire (v.c. 44) was, except for a few localities in the east, poorly worked bryologically, and consequently under-recorded in the Mapping Scheme Situation Map (see J. Bryol. 10, 73 (1978)). The main aim of this meeting was therefore to improve this. All the localities mentioned below, unless otherwise stated, are in v.c. 44.

6 April. A wooded Carboniferous hillside with a north westerly aspect. Limestone Hill Wood, Crwbin (22/4612) is the locality of some locally rare vascular plants. Bryologically it proved very useful for the beginners though nothing of great interest was found. Habitats included a disused quarry (worked last about eight years before), limestone faces, scree and refuse from the quarry, limestone grassland and deciduous woodland. Some of the younger rock faces were not yet colonized, but older and more humid ones had Mnium stellare, Neckera crispa and Reboulia hemisphaerica. In the turf grew Climacium dendroides, Dicranum bonjeanii and Rhodobryum roseum and Pseudoscleropodium purum with sporophytes was noted. The epiphytes were not very good, but included Zygodon baumgartneri and Bryum flaccidum.

We moved to Mynydd LIangyndeyrn (22/4813) after a pub' lunch. Here the acid gritstone outcrops were obviously influenced by the active limestone quarrying nearby because they had a curious assemblage of species: Andreaea rothii and Ptychomitrium polyphyllum growing cheek by jowl with Encalypta streptocarpa and Tortella nitida. After a short walk-about the party left for The Moat, Llandyry (22/4305), a farm standing on Lower Coal Measures and unusual in that only a small proportion of it had been cultivated by its conservation-conscious owner. Though nothing of outstanding interest was found, a reasonably good list of species was recorded and we were able to compare Metzgeria temperata, only recently reported for Britain, with M. fruticulosa s.s. Pembrey Country Park and beach (c. 22/3900), a dune system now much-modified by Man for the recreative population and an adjoining disused railway line (22/4101), were worked next and the usual psammophiles seen, together with Bryum dunense, Campylopus introflexus and Drepanocladus aduncus. Further halts were made on the way back to Carmarthen. Martin Corley spent the day on the coast between Amroth and Marros Sands (22/1907) and produced a valuable list of species including Weissia perssonii.

7 April. The Welsh National Water Development Authority had been told of our proposed trip to Llyn y Fan fach in the Black Mountains and we were met by one of its employees, who opened locked gates and allowed us to park at 22/804228. Some of the less vigorous were then given a lift in the WNWDA landrover nearly to the Llyn. One party examined the waterside rocks which were found to be very dreary, and then the Old Red Sandstone cliffs above. The wind whipped coldly off the llyn and there were icicles and sheets of thin ice all over Bannau Sir Gaer, making the going treacherous; however, Martin Corley detected Barbula ferruginascens. The rock is basic in places and here supported such vascular plants as Sedum rosea and Asplenium viride and also the best bryophytes. To the east of the llyn the rocks had Amphidium lapponicum, Gymnostomum calcareum, Pohlia cruda, Seligeria recurvata, Leiocolea heterocolpos and Scapania aequiloba. Alan Crundwell found Grimmia stirtonii on a rock in the moorland by Afon Sychlwch. Vice-county 42 was entered by Rod Stern and George Bloom after ascending the escarpment and walking over the Nardus-plateau on top. In an attempt to get warm Peter Pitkin made a rapid circuit of Llyn y Fan fach and returned to the parked cars, working down the Afon Sawdde. Here he found some interesting flushes and recorded Moerckia flotowiana, The territory to the west of the llyn was worked by Mark Hill and Martin Corley who followed Afon Mihertach down from Carreg yr Ogof. They obtained a good field recording card, with 145 species.

8 April. We were joined by Helen Ramsay on our trip to Pembrokeshire. The main locality was Tycanol Wood (v.c. 45: 22/0937), an SSSI noted for its rich lichen and fern floras. It is a sessile oak wood with many shaded and exposed tors of quarzite-dolerite. In some places sluggish streams are choked and flood over the woodland floor creating marshy communities with willows and Sphagnum. In such a place Peter Pitkin dug up Cryptothallus mirabilis. The epiphytic communities were very dry - March to May is perhaps the driest time of the year in this part of Wales - but the rock outcrops and boulders kept us occupied and had Dicranum scottianum, Hedwigia ciliata, Hypnum mammillatum, Rhabdoweisia fugax, Plagiochila killarniensis and Scapania umbrosa.

A small party visited Llannerch alder carr, a West Wales Naturalists' Trust reserve (v.c. 45: 22/057353), probably the best example in Pembrokeshire of a mature alder carr, providing an abundance of rotten stumps and fallen trees. The epiphytes were rich, with several species of Orthotrichum and Ulota. Plagiothecium latebricola grew on a sedge tussock. Another WWNT reserve, Cwm Felin-y-Gigfran (v.c. 45: 22/117373), was looked at by the main party. This is a steep slope in the Nevern valley with craggy outcrops of intrusive Ordovician rocks which, however, were dried to a frazzle. Nevertheless, the riverside trees and large boulders in the river were fruitfully searched and yielded Orthotrichum stramineum, Scleropodium cespitans, Lophocolea fragrans and Porella pinnata. On the same day lists were also made by one party for Pencelly forest (v.c. 45: 22/1139), and by another for Afon Cych (v.c. 44: 22/23).

A Council Meeting was held in Trinity College during the evening.

9 April. Though this day was 'free' most people joined into one party and visited the localities offered in the programme. In the morning Wern-ddu famland (22/375179) was worked. Here, Cephaloziella turneri was demonstrated on a roadside bank. The stream was followed north-westwards through wet woodland with slightly basic sandstone outcrops and Fissidens celticus and Trichocolea tomentella were noted. Moorland with Molinia was crossed and Llanllwch Mire (22/3618), described by some as the most impressive raised bog in South Wales, reached. Until recently this had been threatened by tipping by Carmarthen Corporation. Nine species of Sphagnum, Cephalozia connivens, Lepidozia sylvatica, Mylia anomala and Riccardia latifrons were noted, but the area had been subjected to drainage and drought. The area of bog on the north side of the railway line was found, in a cursory examination, to be wetter, though nothing bryologically exciting was seen. Later, Beacon Bog, Llangynog (22/355165), an actively growing basin mire with the typical pool and hummock facies, was visited. Here a very similar species list to that obtained at Llanllwch was made. Cladopodiella fluitans was abundant. Other localities visited during the day by various parties were Giust Point, Laugharne Sands (22/3107) which is mostly M. O. D. property so out-of-bounds, and woods north of Llanybri (22/3313).

10 April. The main excursion was to Dynevor Park (22/6122). Here the woods and deer park are of national importance for the fauna of dead wood for it is one of the few remaining sites in Wales that dead wood is not cleared. Lichenologically its ancient oaks are very important, with numerous rarities. But, though over 100 bryophytes were noted, none was very exceptional. The internationally famous Ordovician limestone outcrops below the Park had Porella laevigata and it was in the rubble below them that Jean Paton, using what can only be described as a micrometerized hand lens, detected Plagiochila britannica (see J. Bryol. 10, 245-56 (1979)). The Castle Woods, adjoining the Park, were also explored, as was the castle itself. Alan Crundwell turned up Bryum donianum in a lanebank near Dynevor Park. A small party visited Allt y Wern oak woodland (22/580216), an SSSI with huge oaks, but found it very dry and bryologically disappointing.

In the afternoon Cwm Cib Farm (22/653217), which had an oak/ash wooded valley, was found to be perhaps the best area for beginners that we visited during the week for it had large quantities of the larger, commoner bryophytes such as Hookeria lucens, Rhytidiadelphus loreus and Chiloscyphus polyanthos. Pastureland was also examined and the more aesthetic Dicranella schreberana, D. staphylina and Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum found. Then we were invited into the farmhouse for warming cups of tea. On the way back one party, with darkening sky overhead and in flurrying snow, stopped to look at the bank of the Afon Tywi at White Mill (22/4621). But although Epipterygium tozeri was noted in fair quantity a minor blizzard quickly developed and sent us scurrying back to the car.

11 April. The day broke with 2 cm. of snow on the ground and we questioned our mental faculties. However, we arrived at Green Castle (22/3916) undaunted and followed a rocky stream with clayey banks down through deciduous woodland to the Afon Tywi, carefully examining beds of Fissidens as we went. Fissidens celticus occurred in several places and many bryophytes were fertile, for example Amblystegium tenax, Thamnobryum alopecurum, Calypogeia fissa and Conocephalum conicum. Lower down in the wood the rock became softer and slightly less acid with a corresponding change in the plant communities. Afterwards Sir John's Hill, Laugharne (22/3010) was worked. This is a wooded scarp on Old Red Sandstone on the doorstep of Dylan Thomas' birthplace. Pohlia lutescens, Rhynchostegiella teesdalei and Lophocolea fragrans were noted here. Later, Honey Corse (22/282091), a hill of Carboniferous limestone with scrubby woodland of blackthorn and hazel, was explored. Elders abounded and were richly covered with epiphytes, and the boulders had great quantities of Brachythecium populeum, Cirriphyllum crassinervium and Isothecium myurum. Chris Preston, on a solo expedition to the Afon Teifi and woods near Henllan (v.c. 46: 22/3540) turned up perhaps the most exciting bryophyte of the whole week - Cryphaea lamyana - on an ash trunk by the river, previously known in the British Isles only from E. Cornwall and Devon. This discovery extended its known range in Britain by 120 km northwards.

Thus ended a very friendly meeting, made possible by generous landowners, organizations and local authorities who freely gave of their time to help the Society and permission for our visits. It was very gratifying to note the genuinely keen and conscientious way in which everyone, beginners and experts alike, helped with field recording. This enthusiasm resulted in record cards being made for 19 10km grid squares. However, much still remains to be done in the area: some of the cream was sampled, but much of it, and all the milk, still remains.

I thank all those who sent me lists of bryophytes they recorded on the meeting which have been so valuable in the preparation of this account.



Summer & AGM meeting 1978

Bangor, 20-25 August

(The AGM was held on 19 August, as part of Symposium on Modern Approaches to Bryophyte Systematics.)

The summer meeting followed immediately after the Symposium on Modern Approaches to Bryophyte Systematics, and was much better attended than usual, with perhaps 50 participants on the first excursion, dropping gradually to the more manageable number of 15 or so on the last. The Bangor area is well known bryologically, and we did not expect to make many new finds. However, numerous useful records were made for the mapping scheme, and there were even a few new vice-county records, including Seligeria brevifolia new to Britain.

Sunday 20 August. The first excursion was to the old slate quarries at Talysarn, an area of industrial dereliction with mossy old tracks, walls and waste heaps. We were dismayed, therefore, to find not old tracks and walls when first we arrived, but a great sea of slate rubble in the process of being "landscaped" by the authorities. With trepidation we set out across this great grey ugliness, threading our way among vast bulldozers, which threatened to landscape us as well as the slate. All bryologists got through safely, and most were rewarded with a copious array of bryophytes, including several that were uncommon - e.g. Campylopus subulatus, Philonotis arnellii, Diplophyllum obtusifolium, Marsupella funckii and Riccia warnstorfii. Unfortunately, some participants got left behind, and were deterred by a notice "private, keep out, beware guard dogs" daubed on a wall, with the result that they missed the better ground. However, this inauspicious start was soon put to rights in the afternoon, where warm and sunny weather attended us on the crags of Craig Cwmdulyn. There were several Atlantic species to be seen, including Campylopus setifolius, Dicranum scottianum, Barbilophozia atlantica, Douinia ovata, Gymnomitrion crenulatum and Plagiochila punctata. Those who felt in need of a further dose of the Atlantic went to Llwyn-coed Wood near Cymyglo, where they saw Anastrepta orcadensis, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Metzgeria temperata and Plagiochila spinulosa.

Monday 21 August. This day was scheduled for Snowdon, but the weather was not too good. Indeed, it was rather bad, and had we known that our two Spanish participants would take the train to the top of Snowdon we should have sung "Farewell and adieu to you fine Spanish Ladies" in most doleful tones, for fear that they would not return. The majority of the party set off to go up Cwm Glas Mawr, and got unpleasantly steamed up in the drizzle.

Several plants of interest were seen near Llyn Glas, including Amphidium lapponicum, Andreaea alpina, Seligeria brevifolia, Tetrodontium brownianum, Bazzania tricrenata, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Herberta adunca, H. straminea, Hygrobiella laxifolia, Marsupella ustulata and Porella cordaeana. In search of better weather the party descended to the lowlands early, and went to Tyn-y-Maes by the Afon Ogwen above Bethesda. A number of interesting plants were seen, including Ulota hutchinsiae, Barbilophozia atlantica and Lepidozia pinnata.

Tuesday 22 August. The day due to be spent on Anglesey started wet, and as we sat in our cars at Newborough Warren we contemplated the dankness of an Atlantic climate. No sooner had we stepped out, however, than the rain abated, and we had a very pleasant morning, made particularly agreeable by beautiful displays of Pyrola rotundifolia and other flowers among the dunes. The bryophytes included several uncommon species in large quantity, e.g. Campylium elodes and C. protensum in almost every slack, Catoscopium nigritum more local but very abundant in some slacks, and Tortella inclinata in great profusion on drier ground. In addition there were smaller quantities of Barbula reflexa, Drepanocladus lycopodioides, Rhynchostegium megapolitanum, Moerckia flotowiana, Petalophyllum ralfsii and Riccardia incurvata. The Petalophyllum was notably scarce, and was only found after careful searching; presumably it must go underground in the summer, as it can be locally abundant in other seasons. Tortula ruraliformis c. spor. was found growing intermixed with T. ruralis, and was distinct, in habit, stature and colour. The large size of the spores (16-19 µm.) suggests that it may be worth more than the varietal or subspecific rank accorded to it by recent authors (e.g. Düll, 1977; Smith, 1978). A rapid dash to see the Aberffraw rarities was followed by a visit to the woods by Plas Lligwy on the other side of the island. Walls by the house produced Tortella nitida, and a limestone outcrop in the woods was clothed with a really admirable profusion of Marchesinia mackaii. Other limestone species included Isothecium striatulum, Scorpiurium circinatum and Taxiphyllum depressum.

Wednesday 23 August. The party went to Tanygrisiau near Blaenau Ffestiniog, and explored the area around Llyn Cwmorthin. Pseudobryum cinclidioides and Scapania paludosa were found growing together in a flush; Leptodontium flexifolium, Marsupella ustulata and Scapania umbrosa occurred on moorland and among rocks. But the area did not hold our interest, and we moved on to the gorge of the Afon Cynfal at Rhaeadr y Cwm. The sides of the gorge were steep and difficult to work, but proved rewarding, with Anoectangium warburgii (male), Barbula ferruginascens, Oedipodium griffithianum, Cololejeunea calcarea, Colura calyptrifolia, Eremonotus myriocarpus and Leiocolea bantriensis.

Thursday 24 August. Undeterred by the dreary conditions we had experienced on Snowdon, we set out for the gloomy cliffs of the Black Ladders (Ysgolion Duon). Attractive higher plants were notably abundant on ungrazed ledges, but the rock was perhaps a little too hard to be really outstanding for bryophytes. Nevertheless, many plants of interest were seen, including several that had been found in Cwm Glas Mawr, and also Dicranum blyttii, Hypnum callichroum, Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides, Plagiothecium denticulatum var. obtusifolium, P. platyphyllum, Splachnum sphaericum. Tetraplodon mnioides, Calypogeia trichomanis, Cephaloziella pearsonii. Marsupella adusta, Radula lindbergiana (female), Scapania scandica, S. uliginosa and Sphenolobus minutus

Friday 25 August. In the morning we set out to "do" the rarities of the Conway Valley for our overseas visitors, and Jeff Duckett succeeded in showing them Ditrichum plumbicola, Fissidens monguillonii, Myrinia pulvinata and Orthotrichum sprucei in quick succession near Trefriw. Then we went to Coedty Reservoir above Talybont, where there was a most attractive riparian community of a type not infrequent in Scotland but very rare in Wales, including Archidium alternifolium (abundant), Bryum bornholmense, Hypnum lindbergii, Pohlia camptotrachela, P. drummondii, Haplomitrium hookeri, Riccardia incurvata and Riccia sorocarpa. Finally we went to look at the ravine of the Afon Dulyn, where Aphanolejeunea microscopica grew on rocks by the waterfall; but the other species were mostly ones we had seen on previous days.

All in all, the meeting was a most successful one, and a fitting sequel to the symposium. It was particularly pleasant to have so many overseas visitors on the excursions, as they looked at our plants with fresh eyes. Anthelia julacea, Breutelia chrysocoma, Eurhynchium swartzii, Heterocladium heteropterum, Hyocomium armoricum and Leptodontium flexifolium became objects of special interest, instead of "just those common things again". That was a real pleasure. It would be good now if more British bryologists would go overseas to give foreign bryologists the reciprocal pleasure. If the foreigners can take the trouble to come here, then surely we also should take the trouble to range more widely than in the past.



Autumn 1978

Leeds University, 11-12 November

The fifth taxonomic workshop was held on Saturday, 11 November in the Botany Department of the University of Leeds, and was followed on Sunday, 12 November by a field excursion to the Hebden valley and Hardcastle Crags near Hebden Bridge in the metropolitan district of Calderdale (v.c. 63).

Some fifteen members attended the workshop session in the University, and heard first Dr. M. E. Newton discuss the problems of sterile Brachytheciaceae. Dr. Newton gave hints on distinguishing species which might be confused with this family, and stressed the importance of the nerve projection on the dorsal side of the leaves of Eurhynchium spp. as a character separating them from their former congeners now placed in Rhynchostegium and Rhynchostegiella. Advice was given on the problems of several groups of superficially similar species within the family. After lunch, Dr. A. J. E. Smith outlined some important key characters helpful in the identification of Schistidium, Grimmia, Bryum, Mnium and Plagiothecium spp. During both morning and afternoon much useful work was done and many ideas swapped as members examined specimens under the microscope.

All are indebted to Prof. H. W. Woolhouse for permission to use the facilities of the Botany Department, to Dr. D. Bartley and Mr. G. A. Shaw for their invaluable assistance in making arrangements at the University, and to Dr. Newton and Dr. Smith for so readily giving us their time and advice.

Eleven enthusiasts gathered on an overcast morning to examine the bryophyte flora of Hardcastle Crags. This well-known beauty spot may justifiably be described as the best remaining locality for bryophytes in the much urbanised vice-county of South-West Yorkshire. The Hebden Water cuts a deep north-south gorge in the millstone grit moorland, and exhibits the characteristic southern Pennine clough flora, generally calcifuge but with local basicolous elements. The locality was well known to the Todmorden botanist John Nowell, who discovered Atrichum crispum here in one of its earliest sites.

On banks by the small stream and in adjacent pasture below the Greenwood Lee car park were found Nardia geoscyphus, Sphagnum russowii, Pohlia lutescens* and P. lescuriana*. Inside the woods, the party descended via the main track and observed en route Schistostega pennata in a hollow among gritstone on the trackside bank, Dicranodontium denudatum covering an old log, and fine Scapania umbrosa on the damp blocks of a wall and some old steps. On the rocks in and by the river, Atrichum crispum and Marsupella emarginata were among the species noted, with Sphagnum quinquefarium on a nearby bank. Eventually the river was crossed and the party reached the streamlet where Jubula hutchinsiae was discovered by James Needham in 1896. Many members were surprised to see that most of the material here is fully aquatic, its glaucous tufts clearly distinct from the accompanying Chiloscyphus. Several small patches were seen, but the species can scarcely be described as abundant, as it has been on previous occasions.

[* = New vice county record]

The next area visited was the riverside cliffs north of Gibson Mill. These produced, inter alia, Saccogyna viticulosa, Tetrodontium brownianum, Seligeria recurvata. Biindia acuta, Gymnostomum aeruginosum, Amphidium mougeotii, Bryum sauteri* and Heterocladium heteropterum. However, owing to a torrential downpour and very poor light conditions, some species known to occur here were missed, including Lejeunea lamacerina, Bartramia ithyphylla and Isopterygium pulchellum. Nowellia curvifolia was a nice find on logs here in the home country of its eponymous finder.

By now only five of the original group remained, their optimism rewarded by some improvement in the weather. There was no time to investigate the upper reaches of the gorge (with Andreaea crassinervia and Mylia taylori), nor the Blake Dean area, where a little Solenostoma caespiticium had been seen three weeks earlier by the local secretary. Instead the party ascended the east bank, where one member was sufficiently lynx-eyed in the gathering gloom to spot Bazzania trilobata*, the first v.c. record this century and confirmation of an old record. The final stop of the day was at a small but remarkable outcrop of calcareous grit, whose bryoflora was in total contrast to the adjacent and typical millstone grit. The principal species were Lejeunea cavifolia, Cololejeunea calcarea, Fissidens cristatus, Tortella tortuosa, Schistidium apocarpum, Zygodon viridissimus var. stirtonii, Neckera crispa, Homalothecium sericeum and Ctenidium molluscum.

The final ascent from the woods was made in gale-like conditions with driving rain; the clouds and dusk descending among the trees gave an aspect of wilderness to the gorge below. Yet few of those present could have failed to observe the effects of atmospheric pollution. Those optimistically scrutinising old elder found only a limited community dominated by Orthodontium lineare; the once rich epiphytic flora, including Ulota drummondii, collected in 1834, has long been extinct.



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