Spring meeting 1980: Haverfordwest

HomeEventsSpring meeting 1980: Haverfordwest

9 April 1980 - 16 April 1980

Meeting report

The Spring Meeting in 1980 was held in Pembrokeshire, S. Wales, from 9 to 16 April. As of late, the intention was to cover some of the underworked areas for our Mapping Scheme, and in this were successful. The Society visited the area last in 1958, but this was before bryophyte mapping had started, so on the present trip it was deemed necessary to re-visit some of the localities in the 1958 programme. Headquarters, as then, was the Hotel Mariners in Haverfordwest. As local secretary I was unable to find suitable “institutional” accommodation where we could all stay in the area, so people booked in at various establishments throughout the town and gathered socially in the HQ hotel in the evenings. About 32 people participated, numbers fluctuating throughout the week; we were glad to have with us for most of the time our North American member Dr Nancy Slack. All the localities we visited were in v.c. 45.

10 April. About twelve people turned up at Hook Wood, an ancient sessile oak woodland clothing the steep outer banks of a major meander of the Western Cleddau estuary. One party worked down through it to the shore and then westwards along the base of the wood; another party worked the east end of wood. We found a considerable quantity of Cephalozia media with sporophytes. We thought we had worked the area reasonably well by 11.15 so moved to Ferry Hill, just south of Benton Castle. Here we worked up the inlet from the Daucleddau and then up the stream that flows into it, through deciduous woodland with brambles, and into another 10 Km square. Cephaloziella turneri was on shaded and overhung rocks by the inlet. Everywhere was very acid. The woodland form of Ctenidium molluscum was on rotten bark and on a roadside bank. The party then split up. One group went to Black Bridge, Milford Haven where they worked along a disused railway line and wooded stream towards Waterston. Martin Corley went to the square west of Dale and found Bryum dunense on the cliffs above Marloes Sands and Amblystegium varium in a swamp at Marloes. The rest went to a strip of old oak woodland with a disused railway line running along the river at Neyland. Again the area was very acid; the woodland was bryologically dull and the railway line was not very interesting. A rock face (presumably left by the railway engineers) at the base of the wood had Racomitrium aquaticum and Scapania compacta, and a bank in the wood yielded Pohlia lutescens.

Our party, in an effort to cover as much ground as possible went first to Walwyn’s Castle, the site of a motte-and-bailey castle on a steep-sided spur in the valley leading down to Sandy Haven. In a small gulley with elders and a stream, Campylopus introflexus was on a stump with Orthodontium lineare, and Orthotrichum pulchellum and Cryphaea heteromalla were on elders near Syke Farm. Afterward, the south side of Sutton Mountain, a Molinia bog on clay, was profitably visited, though a struggle to reach. There was not much bryophyte quantitatively, but an interesting assortment, including Funaria obtusa, Breutelia chrysocoma, Campylium stellatum, Dicranum bonjeanii, Solenostoma crenulatum and Scapania irrigua, was noted.

11 April. We all assembled at Strumble Head in the morning, and one party moved south-westwards to work whilst another went eastwards. The sea cliffs here are predominantly west-facing and rise to 450 feet, but the coast is indented and all aspects from north to south occur. It is one of the most geologically complex coasts in Britain and this diversity is matched by a highly varied flowering plant and fern flora. Although the bryophytes were not abundant the lists obtained were quite interesting. The south-west party found Archidium alternifolium amongst cliff top turf, and Eurhynchium speciosum in a marshy patch. Further along, a small valley mire on the cliff top with Royal Fern was examined and had Scorpidium scorpioides, Riccardia pinguis and R. sinuata whilst the craggy sea cliffs nearby had small quantities of Frullania microphylla and F. fragilifolia. Weissia perssonii was noted by Rod Stern. The second party produced a list with several species not noted by the first including Grimmia stirtonii, Riccia beyrichiana and Tritomaria exsectiformis. Having re-joined we again split up about lunchtime, different car loads moving off to different places. One group went to Aber-mawr west of Granston and recorded in sessile oak woodland where Fissidens rufulus was found on wet rocks in a trickle. Further near the coast the out-flowing stream is dammed up by a storm beach backed up by a mire with willows where Cololejeunea minutissima and Orthotrichum pulchellum were noted. Another party, having just recorded at Garn-fawr fort where nothing of note grows, went on to the alder and willow mire at Aber-bach where Frullania germana was on a boulder and Plagiomnium ellipticum grew in marshy ground, but where the physiognomy and bryophytes are similar to those at Aber-mawr.

Trewellwell Wood towards St. Davids, made an SSSI on the strength of the 1958 visit, was due to be de-scheduled by the NCC, so a party recorded bryophytes there to judge whether a de-scheduling was justified. Woods are not very common in this part of Pembrokeshire, and this one is quite small. It has a stream, rock outcrops and marsh, but the bryophytes were not thought to justify its retention as an SSSI.

Dowrog Common, an extensive tract of wet heath and marsh in the upper reaches of the River Alun, is famous for its rare heath and marsh plants. Two parties visited it, a thorough search was made, and the bryophytes listed. Scleropodium tourettii grew on the public road through the centre of the Common together with Brachythecium mildeanum. Further recording was done in Merry Vale, SW of St. Davids, where Bryum donianum and Diphyscium foliosum were detected, and another party visited Abereiddy Bay, noting Pottia crinita and Cephaloziella stellulifera.

12 April. The weather remained excellent and a party of about 22 people arrived at Brynberian Moor. The wet moorland was carefully explored and some stalwarts ascended the N. slopes of the Prescellys to reach Carnalw, Carnbreseb and Carngoedog. The moorland has several streams running through it and lower down these often form flattish flushed areas. Here grow Acrocladium sarmentosum, Polytrichum alpestre, Lepidozia setacea and twelve different Sphagnum species. On the somewhat steeper slopes of the Mynydd slightly basic-flushed areas, originating from the dolerite, occur, and these gave rise to an additional list of species including Rhizomnium pseudopunctatum, Fissidens osmundoides, Drepanocladus vernicosus and Solenostoma cordifolium. Gors-fawr, another area of wet moorland, this time on the S. slopes of the Prescellys, was next on the programme, but several carloads dissented from working here: they had had enough of bog trotting for the day, and instead made trips to other localities. The wet moorland, though very quaking in parts, was worked reasonably thoroughly and I have to thank Stephen Evans of the Nature Conservancy Council for showing it to us and guiding us safely across it and back.

Two cars went to Cwm Gwaun, a series of oakwoods clothing some 4½ miles of the steep sides of the Gwaun valley sub-glacial channel. Here, one or two nice bryophytes such as Trichocolea tomentella, Nowellia curvifolia and Jubula hutchinsiae, were turned up. Martin Corley went to examine the small bog in the narrow ice-melt-water channel between Dinas Island and the mainland and found Sphagnum squarrosum. And then he went to work the area round Abercych in the extreme NE of the county to be joined in the area by a second party who worked Penrhiw and Cnwcau. Schistidium alpicola var. rivulare was recorded in the Afon Cych and Scleropodium cespitans and Tortula latifolia at Abercych. Fissidens exilis was on soil from a ditch in a quarry at Cnwcau. During the day Harold Whitehouse went on a stubble field jaunt. In one near Llanbed east of Mathry he recorded Bryum microerythrocarpum, Dicranella staphylina and Ditrichum cylindricum and in another near Camrose he noted these three together with Bryum klinggraeffii and B. sauteri.

A Council meeting was held in the evening.

13 April. Minwear Wood, a deciduous woodland on the S.bank of the Eastern Cleddau, was visited by the main party. Rain had lightly fallen during the previous night, and looked like falling again very soon. The wood is mainly beech and oak, the former looking native. Orthotrichum lyellii and O. strictum were seen on the same ash and Nowellia was on several dead trunks, but the bryophytes were on the whole rather dull. As rain started to fall the party drove for drinks in the pub in Cresswell.

Afterwards, in continuing rain the sessile oak woodland on the eastern bank of the Daucleddau west of Lawrenny was reached and worked. The wood is known to date from at least 1600, and is the finest relict of the extensive oakwoods that once clothed all the shoreline of the “drowned valley” system of Milford Haven. The low stature and gnarled appearance of the oaks towards the base of the slope reflected the western aspect and moderate exposure to salt-laden winds. The epiphytes, both lichens and bryophytes, were spectacular but the latter were unfortunately not as exciting as the lichens. Lepidozia pinnata and Barbilophozia attenuata not previously seen during the week were reasonably common on rocky outcrops.

During the morning Rod Stern and his party worked the grounds of Picton Castle down to the N. bank of the Eastern Cleddau and found Tortula marginata on a concrete block and Gyroweisia tenuis on mortar in a wall. Pembroke Castle was worked by the same party who recorded Scorpiurium circinatum there.

14 April. The day started wet but undaunted we drove north out of Haverfordwest to Treffgarne Rocks, an area of Pre-cambrian rocks formed into impressive crags and tors. The area had been worked in 1958 and it was on that occasion that the Fissidens eventually described as F. celticus was first detected in Britain. Among the species noted on the present trip were Lepidozia pinnata, Bazzania trilobata and Barbilophozia attenuata. The nearby banks of the Western Cleddau and Nant-y-Coy Brook were explored and the list was augmented with species such as Plagiothecium latebricola and Porella pinnata. Fissidens monguillonii, recorded here new to Wales on the previous BBS visit, was not seen, the continuing rain probably causing this. After lunch the weather improved and we drove to Fishguard and then to Esgyrn Bottom, a raised bog with a wooded fringe in a valley left as an ice melt-water channel after the last Ice Age. Eight species of Sphagnum, Cladopodiella fluitans, Cephalozia media, Calypogeia sphagnicola, Riccardia latifrons and Lepidozia setacea were detected in the bog which, however, seemed much drier than I remembered it from a visit seven years previously. I am grateful to Mr and Mrs Jim Robinson for allowing us access. The adjoining woodland had Pohlia lutescens on a bank and Ptychomitrium polyphyllum in small quantity on boulders.

On the way back to the hotel one party looked at Ambleston Common, very wet ground with small disused claypits filled with Sphagnum. Ten different species of the latter were recorded and Jean Paton collected Pohlia camptotrachela and Lepidozia sylvatica. Another party visited Garn Turne Rocks, an archaeological site containing a burial chamber on the orthostats of which they found Andreaea rothii and Hedwigia ciliata. Eustace Jones, retracing a route he had walked in his youth, visited Solva and made a useful list from the slopes on the SE side of the harbour, including Campylopus brevipilus, Grimmia trichophylla var. subsquarrosa, Lophocolea fragrans and Marchesinia mackaii. Afterwards he listed on the southern end of Trefeidden Moor which is wet heath and marsh with some open water and found Scorpidium scorpioides in an area with slightly basic depressions.

15 April. An extensive area of limestone ridges bordered by saltings in the old quarry workings at West Williamston, and the adjoining deciduous woodland, were worked in the morning. The limestone grassland and rocks yielded a rich bryophyte flora including Bryum torquescens, Dicranella schreberana, Gymnostomum calcareum and Leiocolea turbinata.

Afterwards Lydstep Point, Carboniferous limestone sea cliffs with sea caves, was visited. This proved rather disappointing because we seemed to miss the best ground-blown sand over limestone rocks, often high above the beach. However, we saw Bryum dunense, Eurhynchium megapolitanum, Pottia bryoides and P. crinita, Scleropodium tourettii and Cephaloziella stellulifera.

Thus ended another pleasant and profitable field meeting. Including some recording done on the days of arrival and departure (not documented in the account above) twenty two 10 Km squares were visited in the county and recording cards filled in each, thereby adding greatly to our knowledge of Pembrokeshire bryophytes and helping our mapping scheme by filling in some of the gaps. Though nothing of exceptional note was found, everyone saw bryophytes, habitats and plant communities of great interest to them. I wish to thank Stephen Evans (N. C. C.) for spending a good deal of time with me in arranging the programme for this meeting and acquiring access to some of the localities visited, and I thank all those who sent me lists of bryophytes they recorded.

A. R. Perry