Sunday 8th December 2019 – Tadnoll and Winfrith Heath Reserve, Dorset

This extensive reserve in south Dorset includes areas of dry and wet heath, wet meadows and a chalk stream.  This will be a good chance to explore this varied habitat, which includes a good range of Sphagnum species, as well as classic species of bogs and flushes, some of which have a calcareous influence.

Park at SY 8047 8623, just past the first junction on Gatmore Road, which is opposite the Red Lion pub on the A352 at Winfrith Newburgh, west of Wool. Wellingtons are strongly advised, as it will be wet under foot in places.

Leader: Andrew Branson

Sunday 17th November 2019 – Nettlecombe Court, Monksilver, S. Somerset

Nettlecombe Court and the surrounding area has been well recorded, but this eastern edge of the Exmoor National Park, has some excellent habitat and no doubt some surprising finds will be made. In the past there have been records for species such as Habrodon perpusillus, Leptodon smithii and Schistostega pennata, which we hope to see again.

The turning for Nettlecombe Court is off the B3188 at Woodford, north of Monksilver. We have permission to park in front of Nettlecombe Court at ST 0565 3773.

Leader: Jeff Bates

Sunday 27th October 2019 – Crockford Bottom marl pits, New Forest

This area in the southern New Forest includes streams, flushes, marl pits and bogs on the bryophyte-rich Headon Beds. The site includes records for a wide range of Sphagna, including S. contortum and S. subsecundum, ‘brown mosses’ of calcareous mires, including the Nationally Scarce Campyliadelphus elodes, and some exacting liverworts.

Meet at the southern of the two car parks near Crockford Bridge at SZ 349 988 off the B3054, Lymington road, south of Furzey Lodge and Beaulieu. Conditions can be very wet, so wellington boots are advised.

Leaders: John Norton and Sharon Pilkington

2019 Bryophyte Identification Training in Cornwall by Plantlife

***Opportunity for free specialist training to learn about mosses and liverworts and develop your ID skills***

 

Bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) are small plants that are easily overlooked. Many of us enjoy the bright green carpets they form on trees and boulders, but never think much more about them. However, if you take a close look (and you know what to look for) a diverse and fascinating world is revealed. Bryophytes are a very rewarding group of plants to study, as the UK is home to over half of all Europe’s bryophyte species, and the bryophyte diversity of the south-west’s woods rival the cloud forests of the tropics.

To help with their conservation, Plantlife is offering free training in Cornwall for those interested in bryophytes to develop their identification skills. Those interested are invited to register for one of the 2-day foundation courses taking place this spring at Siblyback Activity Centre, Bodmin Moor with trips to local woodland:

 

  • 7th-8th May (9am-4pm)

 

  • 15th-16th May (9am-4pm)

 

On completing the 2-day workshop, participants will have an opportunity to register for an advanced course (as part of our New Generation Botanist programme) to develop more in-depth ID skills. Advanced courses are free but require commitment to attend 10 sessions in Cornwall over the course of a 12 month period, as well as taking part in own study and peer-supported study sessions. To register your interest please complete the online form here.

Sunday 17th February 2019 – Big Stoke and Westbury Beacon, near Wells, Somerset

Join us to look at a rich area of limestone and loess grassland, rock outcrops, drystone walls and ancient woodland on the Mendip scarp slope.

A brief exploration of this area in 2014 produced a long list of species including Entosthodon muhlenbergii, Brachythecium glareosum, Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens, Heterocladium flaccidum, Plasteurhynchium striatulum, Scorpiurium circinatum, Rhodobryum roseum, Fossombronia caespitiformis and Riccia subbifurca. There is surely more to find.

Meet at the entrance to Draycott Sleights nature reserve where the West Mendip Way (bridleway) crosses a lane at ST 486513. Parking is limited here – there is room for several cars but if necessary we can also park with care at the edge of the lane just downhill.

Leader: Sharon Pilkington

Fyfield Down

Sunday 24th March 2019 – Fyfield Down, Marlborough, Wiltshire

Fyfield Down is a biological and geological SSSI in the Marlborough Downs. It contains the best assemblage of sarsen stones in England and supports populations of bryophytes not known from elsewhere in Wiltshire and/or southern England. Species known from the stones include Grimmia decipiens, Orthotrichum rupestre, Hedwigia stellata, H. ciliata, Racomitrium heterostichum and Pterogonium gracile. We have permission to explore an area where there are few previous records (SU1371).

Meet in the car park north of Manton at SU159699, which is accessed via a minor lane off the A4. Because of the remote nature of Fyfield Down this visit is likely to involve 6-7 km of walking.

Leader: Sharon Pilkington

Sunday 12th November 2017 – Dodpen Hill and Champernhayes Marsh, near Bridport, Dorset

These mixed woodlands on the south-eastern fringes of the Blackdown Hills on greensands and acid clays have a rich woodland flora, with species such as Hookeria lucens, Trichocolea tomentella and several Sphagnum. Some of the flushes in the area were outstanding, but were largely lost to conifer plantations in the second half of the 20th century. But have they survived at all? They have not been visited much in recent years, so there could well be some surprises.

Sunday January 8th 2017 – Lulworth Cove

This area of the Dorset coast has some rather special bryophytes to match the stunning scenery. There was a possible recent find of the diminutive Pterygoneurum papillosum from the area, which might be interesting to track down. However, more likely finds are a good range of coastal Pottiales, including the possibility of declining species, such as Tortula viridifolia, as well as some larger pleurocarps, including Rhynchostegium megapolitanum.

Sunday October 30th – Linford Bottom, Pinnick Wood and Picket Bottom, New Forest

Leader: John Norton

This area of the New Forest with oak woodland, streams and acid heathland has been poorly recorded compared to some other parts of the Forest, but has some intriguing recent and old records such as Campylopus subulatus, Herzogiella seligeri and Anastrophyllum minutum. A joint meeting with the BBS Southern Group. Meet at the Linford Bottom car park SU181072, north of Linford.

 

19-20 March 2016 – Exmoor Meeting

The meeting was attended by 18 people across the weekend, including Andrew Branson, Sharon Pilkington, Alan and Marion Rayner, Peter Martin, Claire Halpin, Roy Jeffery, Matt Stribley, Tim Rayner, Paul Bowyer, Gary Powell, Anne Hand and members of her Exmoor survey team: Elaine Drewe, Andy Glendenning, Anne Rivett, Prue Grant, Liz Gowen and Sue Helm. We had the use of the National Trust’s Education Centre at Pile’s Mill as a base, for which we are very grateful to Neil Garnsworthy. The weather was dry but cold.

As there was a good attendance, we split up into three groups for both days and tackled a series of squares. On the Saturday, Sharon led one group right over to the county border with Devon to look at some steep coastal woods and heath (Coscombe to Yenworthy Wood). Peter led another group to the coast east of Porlock, along Bossington Hill. Andrew led the third group in the east of Horner Wood, along the East Water Valley (this group was later joined by Roy Jeffery). Tea and cake (thanks to Anne Branson) was ready on our return, when we also had a chance to determine some of the material with our microscopes. Several members of the group had an enjoyable meal at ‘The Ship’ in Porlock later than evening. Some went all the way back to Gloucestershire, to return the following morning!

On Sunday, we again split into three groups. Sharon’s group tackled an interesting area of the Horner Wood complex to the south-west, which included wood edge, wet scrub, and heath with flushes (Wilmersham Common and Dady Coombe). Roy led a group to the west of Horner Wood (Pool Bridge and Wilmersham Wood) and Andrew’s group went south to explore the Exe Valley, south of Exford.

Many thanks to all who attended and particularly to the group leaders for an excellent and highly productive weekend. We shall have to return!

Headlines

We recorded across 16 monads (1km squares) and made a total of 708 species records. A grand total of 187 taxa, of which 46 were liverworts, was recorded at the meeting. For just two days in the field, this is excellent and testifies to richness of the area and the hard work of all the attendees.

Plagiochila spinulosa 0916 reduced

Plagiochila spinulosa

Rare and interesting species (I have included the monad ref. in brackets) A good range of locally rare and scarce species were noted, including two new vice-county records for South Somerset (VC5): Tortula viridifolia (a ‘debracketing’) by the coastal path at Hurlstone Point, and Ulota calvescens on the branch of an oak by the car park at Webber’s Post in Horner Wood, discovered, sadly, after the main group had left. While T. viridifolia, a coastal species, appears to be declining, U. calvescens is turning up more and more outside its stronghold of north-west Britain and Ireland. A potential third new VC5 record, Nardia compressa, was also recorded (see below).

Other excellent records were:

Aulacomnium androgynum (SS8742): a species whose core area is further east, with few recent records in VC5.

Brachytheciastrum velutinum (SS8538): another species with a more easterly core range which seems to be on the decline.

Diphyscium foliosum (SS8744): a scarce western species.

Fissidens bryoides var. caespitans (SS8642, SS8538): formerly treated as a separate species, F. curnovii, this western taxon is on the edge of its range here.

Fissidens celticus (SS8642): another western species on the edge of its range.

Fissidens rivularis (SS8049): a scarce moss with a south-western distribution and few recent records for VC5.

Hedwigia stellata (SS8636): a mainly western and northern species of acid rock, which is scarce in the south-west (recorded as S. ciliata in Perry’s Bryophyte Atlas).

Jubula hutchinsiae (SS8049): a scarce western liverwort of wooded ravines, growing well here near the county border and with only a handful of records for VC5.

Jungermannia atrovirens (SS8049): another scarce liverwort growing here above the beach among dripping rocks covered with Palustriella commutata (the only site for this tufa-forming moss in Exmoor).

Lepidozia cupressina (SS9043): a beautiful and scarce species, in VC5 confined to a few western oak woods, growing here on decaying oak stumps and trunks.

Loeskeobryum brevirostre (SS8742): a scarce species in VC5

Metzgeria conjugata (SS8049): a scarce liverwort of water-splashed rocks

Nardia compressa (SS8642; SS8742): a rare liverwort in the south-west and potentially a new VC5 record, but Sharon didn’t realise this at the time. So, this will be an excuse to go back to this excellent site and collect a voucher specimen!

Plagiochila spinulosa (SS8636; SS8742): an infrequent western liverwort near the edge of its range.

Ptilidium ciliare (SS8943; SS9048): an attractive liverwort of heaths and scree, infrequent in south-west England.

Ptychomitrium polyphyllum (SS8636): a western species with few recent records in VC5.

Racomitrium aquaticum (SS8742): a western species with few recent records in VC5.

Racomitrium fasciculare (SS8636): a western species with few recent records in VC5.

Scleropodium touretii (SS8949; SS9049): a mainly coastal species with few recent records in VC5.

Tortella flavovirens (SS8949; SS9049): another coastal species with few recent records in VC5.

Tritomaria quinquedentata (SS9049): a rare species in VC5 and absent from most of the south-west, also found on Bossington Hill in 1997.

Trichostomum tenuirostre (SS8744; SS8742; SS8049): a western species with few VC5 records.

Andrew Branson, 12/08/2016