Spring meeting 1978: Carmarthen

HomeEventsSpring meeting 1978: Carmarthen

5 April 1978 - 12 April 1978

Meeting report

This was based on Carmarthen, S. Wales, from 5 to 12 April, and though towards the end of the week numbers dropped to about 12, there were 31 participants. Most of these stayed at the headquarters, Trinity College, Carmarthen, where excellent accommodation, food and other facilities were liberally provided. As local secretary I had decided to make a special effort to help beginners and less-experienced members on this meeting, and by arrangement with Trinity College set up a laboratory for our use. Members were invited to bring along their microscopes and other equipment for indoor work. The exercise was a great success and I thank many of the more experienced members for lending innumerable guiding hands throughout the week. The vice-county of Carmarthenshire (v.c. 44) was, except for a few localities in the east, poorly worked bryologically, and consequently under-recorded in the Mapping Scheme Situation Map (see J. Bryol. 10, 73 (1978)). The main aim of this meeting was therefore to improve this. All the localities mentioned below, unless otherwise stated, are in v.c. 44.

6 April. A wooded Carboniferous hillside with a north westerly aspect. Limestone Hill Wood, Crwbin (22/4612) is the locality of some locally rare vascular plants. Bryologically it proved very useful for the beginners though nothing of great interest was found. Habitats included a disused quarry (worked last about eight years before), limestone faces, scree and refuse from the quarry, limestone grassland and deciduous woodland. Some of the younger rock faces were not yet colonized, but older and more humid ones had Mnium stellare, Neckera crispa and Reboulia hemisphaerica. In the turf grew Climacium dendroides, Dicranum bonjeanii and Rhodobryum roseum and Pseudoscleropodium purum with sporophytes was noted. The epiphytes were not very good, but included Zygodon baumgartneri and Bryum flaccidum.

We moved to Mynydd LIangyndeyrn (22/4813) after a pub’ lunch. Here the acid gritstone outcrops were obviously influenced by the active limestone quarrying nearby because they had a curious assemblage of species: Andreaea rothii and Ptychomitrium polyphyllum growing cheek by jowl with Encalypta streptocarpa and Tortella nitida. After a short walk-about the party left for The Moat, Llandyry (22/4305), a farm standing on Lower Coal Measures and unusual in that only a small proportion of it had been cultivated by its conservation-conscious owner. Though nothing of outstanding interest was found, a reasonably good list of species was recorded and we were able to compare Metzgeria temperata, only recently reported for Britain, with M. fruticulosa s.s. Pembrey Country Park and beach (c. 22/3900), a dune system now much-modified by Man for the recreative population and an adjoining disused railway line (22/4101), were worked next and the usual psammophiles seen, together with Bryum dunense, Campylopus introflexus and Drepanocladus aduncus. Further halts were made on the way back to Carmarthen. Martin Corley spent the day on the coast between Amroth and Marros Sands (22/1907) and produced a valuable list of species including Weissia perssonii.

7 April. The Welsh National Water Development Authority had been told of our proposed trip to Llyn y Fan fach in the Black Mountains and we were met by one of its employees, who opened locked gates and allowed us to park at 22/804228. Some of the less vigorous were then given a lift in the WNWDA landrover nearly to the Llyn. One party examined the waterside rocks which were found to be very dreary, and then the Old Red Sandstone cliffs above. The wind whipped coldly off the llyn and there were icicles and sheets of thin ice all over Bannau Sir Gaer, making the going treacherous; however, Martin Corley detected Barbula ferruginascens. The rock is basic in places and here supported such vascular plants as Sedum rosea and Asplenium viride and also the best bryophytes. To the east of the llyn the rocks had Amphidium lapponicum, Gymnostomum calcareum, Pohlia cruda, Seligeria recurvata, Leiocolea heterocolpos and Scapania aequiloba. Alan Crundwell found Grimmia stirtonii on a rock in the moorland by Afon Sychlwch. Vice-county 42 was entered by Rod Stern and George Bloom after ascending the escarpment and walking over the Nardus-plateau on top. In an attempt to get warm Peter Pitkin made a rapid circuit of Llyn y Fan fach and returned to the parked cars, working down the Afon Sawdde. Here he found some interesting flushes and recorded Moerckia flotowiana, The territory to the west of the llyn was worked by Mark Hill and Martin Corley who followed Afon Mihertach down from Carreg yr Ogof. They obtained a good field recording card, with 145 species.

8 April. We were joined by Helen Ramsay on our trip to Pembrokeshire. The main locality was Tycanol Wood (v.c. 45: 22/0937), an SSSI noted for its rich lichen and fern floras. It is a sessile oak wood with many shaded and exposed tors of quarzite-dolerite. In some places sluggish streams are choked and flood over the woodland floor creating marshy communities with willows and Sphagnum. In such a place Peter Pitkin dug up Cryptothallus mirabilis. The epiphytic communities were very dry – March to May is perhaps the driest time of the year in this part of Wales – but the rock outcrops and boulders kept us occupied and had Dicranum scottianum, Hedwigia ciliata, Hypnum mammillatum, Rhabdoweisia fugax, Plagiochila killarniensis and Scapania umbrosa.

A small party visited Llannerch alder carr, a West Wales Naturalists’ Trust reserve (v.c. 45: 22/057353), probably the best example in Pembrokeshire of a mature alder carr, providing an abundance of rotten stumps and fallen trees. The epiphytes were rich, with several species of Orthotrichum and Ulota. Plagiothecium latebricola grew on a sedge tussock. Another WWNT reserve, Cwm Felin-y-Gigfran (v.c. 45: 22/117373), was looked at by the main party. This is a steep slope in the Nevern valley with craggy outcrops of intrusive Ordovician rocks which, however, were dried to a frazzle. Nevertheless, the riverside trees and large boulders in the river were fruitfully searched and yielded Orthotrichum stramineum, Scleropodium cespitans, Lophocolea fragrans and Porella pinnata. On the same day lists were also made by one party for Pencelly forest (v.c. 45: 22/1139), and by another for Afon Cych (v.c. 44: 22/23).

A Council Meeting was held in Trinity College during the evening.

9 April. Though this day was ‘free’ most people joined into one party and visited the localities offered in the programme. In the morning Wern-ddu famland (22/375179) was worked. Here, Cephaloziella turneri was demonstrated on a roadside bank. The stream was followed north-westwards through wet woodland with slightly basic sandstone outcrops and Fissidens celticus and Trichocolea tomentella were noted. Moorland with Molinia was crossed and Llanllwch Mire (22/3618), described by some as the most impressive raised bog in South Wales, reached. Until recently this had been threatened by tipping by Carmarthen Corporation. Nine species of Sphagnum, Cephalozia connivens, Lepidozia sylvatica, Mylia anomala and Riccardia latifrons were noted, but the area had been subjected to drainage and drought. The area of bog on the north side of the railway line was found, in a cursory examination, to be wetter, though nothing bryologically exciting was seen. Later, Beacon Bog, Llangynog (22/355165), an actively growing basin mire with the typical pool and hummock facies, was visited. Here a very similar species list to that obtained at Llanllwch was made. Cladopodiella fluitans was abundant. Other localities visited during the day by various parties were Giust Point, Laugharne Sands (22/3107) which is mostly M. O. D. property so out-of-bounds, and woods north of Llanybri (22/3313).

10 April. The main excursion was to Dynevor Park (22/6122). Here the woods and deer park are of national importance for the fauna of dead wood for it is one of the few remaining sites in Wales that dead wood is not cleared. Lichenologically its ancient oaks are very important, with numerous rarities. But, though over 100 bryophytes were noted, none was very exceptional. The internationally famous Ordovician limestone outcrops below the Park had Porella laevigata and it was in the rubble below them that Jean Paton, using what can only be described as a micrometerized hand lens, detected Plagiochila britannica (see J. Bryol. 10, 245-56 (1979)). The Castle Woods, adjoining the Park, were also explored, as was the castle itself. Alan Crundwell turned up Bryum donianum in a lanebank near Dynevor Park. A small party visited Allt y Wern oak woodland (22/580216), an SSSI with huge oaks, but found it very dry and bryologically disappointing.

In the afternoon Cwm Cib Farm (22/653217), which had an oak/ash wooded valley, was found to be perhaps the best area for beginners that we visited during the week for it had large quantities of the larger, commoner bryophytes such as Hookeria lucens, Rhytidiadelphus loreus and Chiloscyphus polyanthos. Pastureland was also examined and the more aesthetic Dicranella schreberana, D. staphylina and Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum found. Then we were invited into the farmhouse for warming cups of tea. On the way back one party, with darkening sky overhead and in flurrying snow, stopped to look at the bank of the Afon Tywi at White Mill (22/4621). But although Epipterygium tozeri was noted in fair quantity a minor blizzard quickly developed and sent us scurrying back to the car.

11 April. The day broke with 2 cm. of snow on the ground and we questioned our mental faculties. However, we arrived at Green Castle (22/3916) undaunted and followed a rocky stream with clayey banks down through deciduous woodland to the Afon Tywi, carefully examining beds of Fissidens as we went. Fissidens celticus occurred in several places and many bryophytes were fertile, for example Amblystegium tenax, Thamnobryum alopecurum, Calypogeia fissa and Conocephalum conicum. Lower down in the wood the rock became softer and slightly less acid with a corresponding change in the plant communities. Afterwards Sir John’s Hill, Laugharne (22/3010) was worked. This is a wooded scarp on Old Red Sandstone on the doorstep of Dylan Thomas’ birthplace. Pohlia lutescens, Rhynchostegiella teesdalei and Lophocolea fragrans were noted here. Later, Honey Corse (22/282091), a hill of Carboniferous limestone with scrubby woodland of blackthorn and hazel, was explored. Elders abounded and were richly covered with epiphytes, and the boulders had great quantities of Brachythecium populeum, Cirriphyllum crassinervium and Isothecium myurum. Chris Preston, on a solo expedition to the Afon Teifi and woods near Henllan (v.c. 46: 22/3540) turned up perhaps the most exciting bryophyte of the whole week – Cryphaea lamyana – on an ash trunk by the river, previously known in the British Isles only from E. Cornwall and Devon. This discovery extended its known range in Britain by 120 km northwards.

Thus ended a very friendly meeting, made possible by generous landowners, organizations and local authorities who freely gave of their time to help the Society and permission for our visits. It was very gratifying to note the genuinely keen and conscientious way in which everyone, beginners and experts alike, helped with field recording. This enthusiasm resulted in record cards being made for 19 10km grid squares. However, much still remains to be done in the area: some of the cream was sampled, but much of it, and all the milk, still remains.

I thank all those who sent me lists of bryophytes they recorded on the meeting which have been so valuable in the preparation of this account.

A.R. Perry