Lothians Group: Blackford Hill

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24 February 2024 (10:30 - 14:30)

Meeting report

Location: Blackford Hill (South side) NT2570

Meeting at the Midmar Paddock car park, the plan had been to explore the woodlands of Hermitage of Braid, where our leader had recently intervened to prevent well-intentioned volunteers from destroying a population of Zygodon stirtonii on a mossy wall. On the day the magnetism of bryologically-rich Blackford Hill, particularly the area near to Agassiz’ Rock, drew us astray and the Hermitage must wait for another visit.

The morning was spent in the sloping woodlands below the south-west crags of Blackford Hill. Apart from one liverwort and some Zygodon conoideus the bryophytes were mostly those we would expect to find in other woods on acidic soils in Edinburgh. Happily there was sufficient variety to keep everyone interested, and one log carpeted by about a dozen species received a lot of our attention.

The main path through the Hermitage follows the course of the Braid Burn, and this thoroughfare was busy with dog-walkers and others out for a stroll on a mild day. David Chamberlain remarked that a bridge over the burn marked a change in the geology, and this was evident very quickly from the change in the bryophytes, with calcicoles replacing calcifuges. Warren had got to know this area during lockdown and was able to take us to some of the rarities, while David had previously led groups of students to this famous site.

Many of the rock faces were covered by Porella platyphylla. Neil produced a specimen of Lewinskya rupestris (Orthotrichum rupestre) and we then found more of this uncommon moss, often growing near O. anomalum. Instead of the familiar G. pulvinata the Grimmia species on these rocks included G. lisae, and in this habitat Schistidium crassipilum was replaced by S. apocarpum. Encalypta vulgaris is uncommon in Edinburgh but Warren had found it here some time ago and David managed to find it again.

Three clambered onto Agassiz Rock to look for more rarities and thankfully all three are still with us. Over 80 species were found on the day. Many thanks to Warren for leading a successful and enjoyable outing.

David Adamson, February 2024

Meeting details

Leader: Warren Maguire

The aim is to identify and record bryophytes in the Hermitage of Braid. There is a mixture of habitats including mature woodland and a burn.
Note that there are some steep slopes and the area is used by dog walkers.

Meet at Midmar Paddock car park NT25149 70433; EH10 6BX; points.weeks.begins

Please contact David Adamson davidadamson32@gmail.com with any queries.


Hermitage of Braid, Edinburgh