Tiphereth, a part of the Camphill Community, had kindly allowed our group of three bryologists and two botanists to access Torphin Quarry for the second of our autumn meetings. David Chamberlain, our expert bryologist, had visited the site in 2000 with Gordon Rothero, and was keen to discover whether the more notable species from that visit, Aloina rigida and Tortula subulata, were still present. David’s notes on the visit of 22 years ago state that “while the bryoflora of this site is not extensive, the strongly base-rich volcanic substrate makes this a significant locality, at least in the local context.” On that visit 40 species were recorded.
As there was no longer any safe access to the eastern quarry, where one of the notable species had been found, we started our recording in the middle quarry, focussing on an old concrete platform, the fringes of a damp area, and the near-perpendicular quarry sides. The botanists had left us and gone to the western quarry. Meanwhile, in a pocket of soil on the face of the middle quarry Eleanor made the find of the day, which was Aloina aloides. Although not as rare as A rigida, it is locally uncommon. Almost simultaneously David found fruiting Tortula subulata, also on the quarry face. Eleanor was in good form and added Radula complanata to our list, unusually growing on a rock instead of tree bark.
We moved on to the much larger western quarry, on the way meeting the returning botanists. They also made some interesting discoveries. In the western quarry the warmth of the low sun was welcome after the cool damp shade of the morning. Here the bryophytes differed slightly from those already seen. David found our first Hypnum cupressiforme of the day after more than two hours of recording, which is an unusual delay before recording such a common moss. As with the middle quarry we spent time at the base of the rock face and on the damp quarry floor; there were also steep-sided spoil heaps to explore. This quarry was dominated by a small number of species, particularly Hypnum lacunosum, Fissidens adianthoides, Bryum pseudotriquetrum, Calliergonella cuspidata, and Encalyta streptocarpa. We discovered a couple of additional patches of Aloina aloides, and David found Ctenidium molluscum. Our eventual list for both quarries, taking in two monads, was just under 50 species.
In 2000 David and Gordon Rothero did not record any Fissidens adianthoides and Bryum pseudotriquetrum so the bryoflora of Torphin Quarry has changed markedly in these 22 years. The 7 species not re-found may be due to the lack of access to the eastern quarry.
Thanks again to Camphill for granting access to Torphin Quarry.
David Adamson, November 2022Download spreadsheet of records