Annual meeting 1969: Lyme Regis

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9 April 1969 - 16 April 1969

Meeting report

The Annual Meeting (9-16 April) was held at Lyme Regis on the Dorset-Devon border. Excursions were made into Devon (v.-c. 3), Somerset (v.-c. 5) and Dorset (v.-c. 9). The weather was favourable, being neither too dry nor too wet; and the Saturday excursion was attended by twenty-seven people.

10 April. Members spent the day exploring the cliffs and landslip to the west of Lyme Regis (v.-c. 3). This area consists of several miles of chalky undercliff, with thorn-thickets, spontaneous ashwood, and a little grassland. Because of the length to be covered the party split into two, one group working near Pinhay and the other near Goat Island. The Pinhay contingent recorded Amblystegium varium, Fissidens bambergeri, Gymnostomum calcareum, Scorpiurium circinatum, Seligeria pusilla, Anthoceros husnotii and Cololejeunea minutissima. On Whitlands Cliff, an interesting find, which caused some speculation in the field, was a plant which from its leaves appeared to be Ditrichum subulatum. The area near Goat Island was more varied, and several other species were recorded: Barbula unguiculata var. cuspidata*, Bryum capillare var. torquescens, Eurhynchium schleicheri, Leptodon smithii, Phascum curvicollum, Pottia commutata, Weissia tortilis*, Marchesinia rnackaii and Porella laevigata.

[* new vice-county record]

11 April. In the morning the party visited Prior’s Park Wood (v.-c. 5), an area of neglected coppice. The ground was for the most part damp and calcareous, with Cratoneuron commutatum conspicuous in the ditches. Typical coppice epiphytes such as Orthotrichum affine, O. striatum, Neckera pumila, Ulota crispa and Lejeunea ulicina were seen on hazel. All these species were encountered repeatedly during the meeting. Other plants seen were Heterocladium heteropterum var. flaccidum, Orthotrichum pulchellum, Plagiothecium latebricola, Zygodon conoideus and Lophocolea bidentata c.per. At lunch-time a drizzle developed and many members sheltered in an agreeable public house at the top of the hill. Suitably fortified, they emerged on to the wet heath of Widcombe Moor, recording Dicranum spurium*, Cephaloziella subdentata and Odontoschisma denudatum*. Then everybody scattered and filled in mapping cards for nearby squares. Tortella nitida was found on the wall of the church at Donyatt; Riccia warnstorfii, Dicranella staphylina* and Plagiothecium latebricola in some damp coppice near Chaffcombe; Zygodon conoideus and Amblystegium juratzkanum on Blagdon Hill; and Polytrichum aurantiacum and Scapania compacta near Culmhead.

12 April. A blustery morning was spent working the banks of the Otter Estuary near Budleigh Salterton (v.-c. 3). Species seen were Amblystegium kochii, Bryum donianum, B. sauteri, Desmatodon convolutus, Epipterygium tozeri, Eurhynchium megapolitanum, Funaria fascicularis, Leptodon smithii, Pottia heimii, P. wilsoni, P. crinita, Scleropodium tourretii and Tortula papillosa. On sandstone rocks there were fair quantities of a form of Tortula vahliana with immature fruit. Then the party moved inland to Woodbury Common where on wet heath they found Funaria obtusa, Cephalozia macrostachya, Cladopodiella francisci, Odontoschisma denudatum and Riccardia latifrons.

The Annual General Meeting was held at 8.30 p.m.

13 April. This was the free day, and many members took the opportunity to visit Portland (v.-c. 9). The species seen were much the same as for the BBS excursion in April 1952. New records were Amblystegium serpens var. salinum*, Bryum capillare var. torquescens, Pottia starkeana and Scleropodium tourretii, while Eurhynchium meridionale, Funaria muehlenbergii, Gymnostomum calcareum, Cephaloziella baumgartneri, Marchesinia mackaii and Southbya nigrella were refound in their old haunts. Another party visited Hooke Park (v.-c. 9) and the valleys below it. Hooke Park also was the scene of an excursion in 1953 and many of the same plants were found. New records were Bryum donianum, Pohlia lutescens*, Reboulia hemisphaerica and the small-bulbilled form of Bryum bicolor.

14 April. With reduced numbers the party visited Eggardon Hill (v.-c. 9), chalk grassland with an outcrop of calcareous grit on its western slope. On the outcrop grew Cinclidotus mucronatus (nowhere near water), Leptodon smithii, Seligeria pusilla, Scorpiurium circinatum and Trichostomum crispulum var. viridulum. Zygodon viridissimus var. stirtonii was found on a wall and Mnium seligeri* in a marshy field nearby. In the afternoon the party moved to Powerstock Common – derelict coppice with a variety of soils. Records included Amblystegium juratzkanum, Atrichum undulatum var. minus*, Plagiothecium ruthei, Ptychomitrium polyphyllum* (on slag by a railway), Weissia microstoma var. brachycarpa* and Nowellia curvifolia. A detachment then drove to Eype Mouth and found Aloina rigida*.

15 April. First stop was East Hill near Ottery St Mary (v.-c. 3), and the party split up to explore the gulleys running eastwards towards Sidbury. One section went into Core Copse and reported Atrichum crispum and Saccogyna viticulosa. The other section chose the shaded goyle above Lincombe Farm, where a small stream trickled among sandstone rocks. On these rocks grew Brachydontium trichodes, Dicranella rufescens, Campylostelium saxicola* and Lophocolea fragrans. One car load then went to Harpford Wood and recorded Epipterygium tozeri and Eurhynchium schleicheri. The remainder drove down to Weston Mouth, where in a recently sown pasture grew flat-leaved Weissias (W. crispa var. aciculata*, W. microstoma var. brachycarpa* ); but a half-hour’s search revealed little else: Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum, Dicranella staphylina* and Brachythecium mildeanum.

A glance at the foregoing lists will show that the neighbourhood of Lyme Regis is not remarkable for its bryophytes. Indeed, it must be one of the most ‘average’ areas on the south coast of England. A moderate rainfall (35 in.) is accompanied by soft rocks, small hills and a pocket-handkerchief landscape. The ancient woodland has been felled or reduced to coppice; and whereas there has recently been an increase in properly managed forest, this has resulted not so much in the restoration of former habitats as in the drainage of heaths and bogs. In these circumstances the organizer, Mrs Appleyard, was confronted with an unusually difficult task in planning the excursions. Undoubtedly she selected the best sites in the district, and members were able to see a fair selection of habitats in an area which is still free from atmospheric pollution. All who attended will wish to thank her warmly.

M. O. Hill


Lyme Regis