Spring meeting 1977: Wareham, Dorset

HomeEventsSpring meeting 1977: Wareham, Dorset

30 March 1977 - 6 April 1977

Meeting report

The spring meeting was held from 30 March to 6 April at Wareham in Dorset (v.-c. 9), with an excursion in the final day to the New Forest (v.-c. 11 ). About 30 members attended the meeting, but numbers were substantially lower on several days.

31 March. In deplorable weather the cars set off for Swanage, and as members ascended Ballard Down, a cold wind blighted their bryology. Nevertheless, in the shelter of an elder thicket, a few plants of interest were found – Cryphaea heteromalla, Leptodon smithii, Orthotrichum tenellum, Tortula papillosa, Zygodon conoideus and Cololejeunea minutissima. Defeated by the wind, the party crossed the road to Godlingston Hill, recording calcicoles including Bryum torquescens, Phascum curvicolle, Pottia recta, Pleurochaete squarrosa, Scorpiurium circinatum, Seligeria calcarea and S. paucifolia. Shelter was found in a pub for lunch, but the afternoon brought no improvement in the weather. Godlingston Heath had a poor bryophyte flora, but with some bog specialities including Sphagnum pulchrum, Cladopodiella fluitans and (sterile) Cephalozia macrostachya. Dr Pitkin, scuffling in some wet woodland, found Cryptothallus mirabilis.

1 April. The morning took us to Morden Bog, where the weather was wet and high water levels made it hard to see mosses. Nine species of Sphagnum were encountered, and a little Ptilidium pulcherrimum on sallow. In the afternoon, several members went to Piddles Wood in the north of the county, an ancient oak wood on non-calcareous clays, which had a characteristic flora including Dicranum majus, Hylocomium brevirostre, Rhytidiadelphus loreus and Scapania nemorea. Other members visited the banks of the River Stour by Hod Hill, recording Bryum donianum, Cinclidotus mucronatus, Leptodon smithii c.fr. and Tortula latifolia c.fr. Lower down the Stour, near Durweston, another party recorded Bryum flaccidum, Zygodon viridissimus var. vulgaris, Metzgeria fruticulosa s. str. and M. temperata.

2 April. First stop was Oakers Wood near Moreton, an ancient oak wood on non-calcareous soil. The bryophytes of the wood were not remarkable, but members were pleased to see Pulmonaria longifolia in some quantity. Dr. Whitehouse found an arable field with Bryum klinggraeffii, Funaria fascicularis, Riccia glauca and R. sorocarpa. Briants Puddle Heath, nearby, supported Bryum bornholmense and Calypogeia sphagnicola. Portland, in the afternoon, was well known bryologically and not expected to produce anything new; but Bryum canariense and Cololejeunea rossettiana at Church Ope Cove were new for the county. Other finds were much as on previous occasions (cf. Trans. BBS, 1970, p. 213), but we missed Southbya nigrella in spite of careful searching. In the evening a council meeting was held at Furzebrook Research Station.

3 April. On the Free Day, parties went in various directions. One member went to Durlston Head near Swanage, recording Pottia crinita, P. heimii, P. wilsonii and Pterygoneurum ovatum. Another party visited the Army Ranges near Tyneham. The country was pleasant; the bryophytes unremarkable. Much of the grassland was little grazed and subject to fires. Nevertheless, Rhytidiadelphus loreus was unexpectedly found in chalk grassland among the ramparts of Flowers Barrow. Only after examining it did members observe that it was guarded by unexploded shells, two intact and one with explosive spilling out. Moving on rapidly, the same party visited heathland on the Ranges near Povington where Mr Wallace found Dicranum spurium, and stopped by Great Wood, Creech, where he found Eurhynchium schleicheri. Other members visited the South Haven peninsula near Studland, recording Brachythecium mildeanum and Cryptothallus mirabilis. To complete the diversity of the Free Day there was also a visit to the New Forest, where Isopterygium seligeri and Lepidozia sylvatica were found in Mark Ash Wood, and Fossombronia pusilla var. maritima, Frullania fragilifolia and Pallavicinia lyellii at Wood Crates.

4 April. First stop was Newton Heath, where there were old clay pits among planted conifers. The spoil was evidently toxic, and the flora consequently limited. Drepanocladus fluitans c.fr. , Cephaloziella starkei, Lophozia bicrenata, and confusingly inter-mixed Cladopodiella fluitans and Gymnocolea inflata were observed in the pits. Tritomaria exsectiformis was seen on sandy peaty banks by a forest road. In the afternoon, Chapman’s Pool, Purbeck provided more diversity, with Eurhynchium megapolitanum, Pottia crinita, P. davalliana, P. lanceolata, P. recta, P. starkeana, Rhynchostegiella curviseta, Tortella nitida, Tortula marginata, T. vahliana and Cololejeunea minutissima.

5 April. The final excursion, to the New Forest began with an examination of Wilverley Bog, which supported Splachnum ampullaceum, Calypogeia sphagnicola, Cephalozia macrostachya (female), Cladopodiella fluitans, Lepidozia setacea, Riccardia latifrons and nine species of Sphagnum, including S. contortum, S. subsecundum s. str. and S. teres. Finally, we went to the Rufus Stone, like Portland a famous bryophyte locality. Local specialities Hyocomium flagellare. Zygodon forsteri, Z. viridissimus var. vulgaris, and Saccogyna viticulosa were duly refound; Polytrichum aurantiacum was detected new to the vice-county.

The Society had visited Wareham in 1930 and made a very similar range of excursions. Then, they were later in the month and the weather had been better. “Sitting still on the sunny hillside” wrote Miss Armitage (Bryologist, May 1931, p. 45) “it was pretty to watch the lizards twinkling in and out of some fallen logs, and tiger beetles in the grass. ” Our own experiences were more of driving rain and sloshing about in wellies. But the area has retained its bryophytes. Low air pollution leaves Leptodon smithii, Leucodon sciuroides, Cryphaea heteromalla and Lejeunea ulicina still common on trees. The heaths still have abundant Campylopus brevipilus and Sphagnum pulchrum: Cladopodiella fluitans is still frequent. The drought of 1976 had caused a few bad fires; Hartland Moor was burnt to a frazzle. But on the whole its effects were not visible except in the New Forest, where there had been massive mortality of Pellia epiphylla along streamsides, with only slight recovery in the subsequent wet winter.

M.O. Hill


Wareham, Dorset