The Spring Meeting was held at Ludlow, Shropshire (vc. 40) from 4 to 11 April. During the week, 37 members and other bryologists attended and even on the last day there were still 17. Although the meeting provided relatively few NVCRs and rarities, the total count of about 280 species, from a wide range of habitats provided invaluable experience for the high proportion of near-beginners.
5 April. The morning was spent exploring old, wooded quarries below Wenlock Edge (vc. 40). These produced: Fissidens exilis, Pottia recta*, Weissia controversa v. crispata*, Tortula princeps, Brachythecium glareosum and Phascum curvicolle. Undeterred by a few flakes of snow during lunch the party then split up. One group remained on Wenlock Edge and found Aloina aloides and Mnium stellare, whilst others went either to Wolverton Wood, to record for the Nature Conservancy, to a wooded gorge at Monkhopton, Norton Camp Wood (the turf of the ancient camp had been devastated by tree felling) or to Ash Bridge. These sites were all on limestone though it was seldom near the surface. The species found included Dicranum tauricum*, Orthotrichum rivulare, O. stramineum, Metzgeria pubescens and Ptilidium pulcherrimum.
[* = New vice county record]
6 April. In the morning we walked across Leinthall Common to Croft Ambrey, an iron-age fort on the limestone edge (vc. 36) finding both limestone and heathland bryophytes such as Barbula revoluta, Ditrichum cylindricum, Pohlia lutescens* and the woodland form of Ctenidium molluscum. More notable however were the epiphytes Neckera pumila, Leucodon sciuroides and Metzgeria temperata. The afternoon saw us at Downton Gorge (vc. 36), a ravine cut by a glacial overflow in Silurian shales and limestones, the latter yielding Mnium marginatum and Reboulia hemisphaerica. The environs of the river yielded Cinclidotus mucronatus, Scleropodium cespitans and Taxiphyllum wissgrillii whilst diverse epiphytes on old elders included Cryphaea heteromalla and Orthotrichum pulchellum. A few optimists who proceeded further along the river which in the upper part of the gorge is flanked by an apparently depressing conifer, plantation were rewarded by Targionia hypophylla, Pohlia cruda, Dicranella staphylina and Bartramia ithyphylla. One member noted Funaria fascicularis and Dicranella schreberana, in an unploughed arable field.
7 April. A clear cold morning promised the good weather necessary for exploration of Brown Clee Hill (vc. 40). This consists mainly of Old Red Sandstone with thin calcareous bands. The summit is covered with coal mines leaving a desolate but botanically interesting landscape of overgrown spoil heaps. Confusion about where the path began, split the party into two main groups but nearly all met at the summit just in time to face a blizzard which rapidly obliterated all the bryophytes and prevented the majority from seeing Grimmia incurva. Despite the atrocious conditions 132 species were recorded and nice finds included Blindia acuta, Funaria obtusa, Rhynchostegiella teesdalei and Gyroweisia tenuis. Surprisingly, Racomitrium heterostichum was found on soil.
8 April. This was the ‘free’ day but most people continued mapping, particularly laudable, considering the day had started wet and continued wetter with a thunderstorm and hail. The main party went to Brampton Bryan Park (vc. 36) an attractive parkland rich in lichens growing on old specimen trees. Species not seen on previous excursions included Scapania compacta c. spor, Plectocolea hyalina, Dicranum montanum* and Dicranella rufescens. Another party went to Mary Knoll Valley (vc. 40), a pleasant wooded valley finding Zygodon conoideus, then proceeded to Cardingmill Valley in the Long Mynd (vc. 40) hoping to pay their respects to Bryum weigelii and Grimmia montana. Others went to Limebrook (vc. 36) finding Ulota crispa, only seen once before at this meeting, to Corndon Hill (vc. 47) and to Ludlow Castle (Tortula papillosa and T. laevipila).
9 April. Despite the rain and dismal weather forecasts many of the local members still decided to brave the elements, and they were well rewarded. The rain soon ceased and a most enjoyable day was spent exploring the Ystol Bach Brook in Radnor Forest (vc. 43), until stopped by the snow line, well below the Whinyard Rocks. Species not seen before included Amphidium mougeotii, Breutelia chrysocoma, Diphyscium foliosum, Drepanocladus uncinatus, Encalypta ciliata, Plagiobryum zierii, Seligeria recurvata and Porella cordaeana.
10 April. In the morning we visited Titterstone Clee Hill, (vc. 40) to examine species growing on the dolerite rocks at the summit. However we found ourselves in dense driving mist with visibility down to barely 50 yards. The party kept well together and was thankful that our leader was able to refind the cars. Despite the difficult conditions, Grimmia incurva was refound. At lunch time we looked for Tortula stanfordensis at Eastham Bridge over the R. Teme (vc. 37), a new station discovered the previous Sunday. The rain then fell torrentially but ceased as we approached Hanley Dingle (vc. 37), a pathless wooded ravine with calcareous outcrops. Particularly notable was the number of species with numerous capsules. These included Eucladium verticillatum, Eurhynchium praelongum var. stokesii, Thamnobryum alopecurum and Conocephalum conicum. Rhynchostegiella teesdalei was abundant on rocks in the stream and Dicranum tauricum and Leiocolea turbinata were also seen. This site could well repay further investigation under less difficult conditions.
The meeting had been very carefully organised by Michael Pearman who must have put in much work to find the interesting and delightful places to which we went. We owe him many thanks for doing this and for making the meeting itself such a success.