This meeting was based in the area of North Somerset (v.-c. 6), which the society last visited for a field meeting over 30 years ago. It was attended by a total of 36 people, with a maximum of 25 people on Saturday. The headquarters hotel was the Walton Park which proved an excellent last minute substitute for the previous selection which became bankrupt only weeks before the meeting.
Wednesday 3 April.
The morning was spent at Draycott Sleights, situated on a steep south-west facing slope of the Mendip Hills. The geology consists of various strata of the Carboniferous Limestone and a significant part of the soils is made up of windblown silt (loess). The weather was pleasantly sunny with views of heavy showers passing below. Plentiful Gymnostomum viridulum was found along with Phascum curvicolle, Pottia recta, Weissia longifolia var. angustifolia, and the hepatics included Reboulia hemisphaerica and Riccia sorocarpa. Cliff Townsend found a short leaved form of Tortella tortuosa and Alan Crundwell found Bryum caespiticium var. imbricatum. Other species included Orthotrichum cupulatum and Scorpiurium circinatum.
In the afternoon we were sown around the Somerset Trust for Nature Conservation reserve at Ubley Warren by the warden and BBS member Valerie Cornell. The ground here is dissected by old workings providing rock faces and boulders. The rock faces supported Scapania aspera, Gymnostomum aeruginosum and Gyroweisia tenuis. Climacium dendroides was plentiful on the tops of boulders, and in the turf Rhytidium rugosum was found. Cliff Townsend found Acaulon muticum. The nearby old lead workings at Charterhouse proved disappointing though the locally uncommon Grimmia donniana and Racomitrium lanuginosum were seen.
A brief visit to Cheddar church en route back to Clevedon produced Barbula revoluta, Gyroweisia tenuis and Orthotrichum cupulatum on the church walls. On the chippings around the church it was interesting to find Scorpiurium circinatum thriving.
In the evening Harold Whitehouse showed some excellent stereo photographs of New Zealand bryophytes.
Thursday 4 April.
The Stockhill forestry commission plantation near Priddy was visited in the morning but we failed to find Ditrichum plumbicola previously recorded here. Old Elders in the rides of the plantation provided good epiphytes, and on them Rod Stern found Orthotrichum pulchellum and O. striatum. Also seen were Cryphaea heteromalla, Metzgeria fruticulosa and Zygodon conoideus c.fr.
In the afternoon Harridge wood near Shepton Mallet was visited. The bryophytes were luxuriant and near the entrance to the wood Cliff Townsend and Mark Hill found Pylaisia polyantha on Ash. The epiphytes proved interesting, due perhaps to the influence of dust carried from the adjacent quarry. The following epiphytes were seen: Tortula subulata var. graeffii, Barbula rigidula, Encalypta streptocarpa, Leskea polycarpa and Tortula latifolia – the last two far from water. Rock faces had Cirriphyllum crassinervium, Seligeria pusilla, Marchesinia mackaii, Porella arboris-vitae var. arboris-vitae and Zygodon viridissimus var. stirtonii. Further species seen include Orthotrichum pulchellum, Neckera pumila, Metzgeria temperata and fine fruiting Thamnobryum alopecurum.
Friday 5 April.
In the morning we visited Westhay Moor reserve, where the Somerset Trust for Nature Conservation are trying to preserve a raised bog from drying out. Drying is caused by adjacent peat extraction mainly by the company Fisons. Eight species of Sphagnum were recorded but in poor quantity. Other species seen included Calliergon cordifolium, Aulacomnium androgynum, A. palustre, Ulota phyllantha, Cephalozia connivens and Cephaloziella hampeana.
In the afternoon we visited Withial Coombe near Glastonbury. This steep sided wooded valley which lies over the Lower and Middle Lias made access difficult in places. Epipterygium tozeri and Fissidens incurvus grew on the steep clay banks. Alan Crundwell found Eurhynchium schleicheri, and epiphytes included Neckera pumila, Orthotrichum pulchellum, Metzgeria fruticulosa and M. temperata.
Finally, Harold Whitehouse took us to a bridge near Butcombe where Leptobarbula berica had been recorded. Fruiting Gyroweisia tenuis caused us some confusion but turned out not to be the second British record for fruiting Leptobarbula.
Saturday 6 April.
The morning was spent on the old Iron Age fort site of Dolebury Warren. In this steep sided hill in the Mendips 25 members saw a fine range of species on the Carboniferous Limestone. Nine species of Barbula were seen including B. vinealis which is uncommon in N. Somerset. Vanessa Stern found Acaulon muticum on an anthill where Ephemerum serratum var. serratum was also recorded. Grimmia orbicularis was detected amongst large quantities of G. pulvinata. On the thin soiled slopes Eurhynchium swartzii var. rigidum and 5 species of Pottia were seen including P. bryoides by Alan Crundwell and P. intermedia by Eustace Jones. Chris Preston found Platydictya confervoides on a rock face, and George Bloom found Bryum radiculosum. Other species seen included Brachythecium glareosum, Funaria muhlenbergii, Zygodon baumgartneri, Rhodobryum roseum and Tortella nitida. David Long found Tritomaria quinquedentata in the third locality for N. Somerset.
The afternoon in Cheddar wood was in fairly heavy rain which dulled the enthusiasm, though a few interesting records included Eurhynchium schleicheri, Taxiphyllum wissgrillii, Porella arboris-vitae var. arboris-vitae, Cirriphyllum crassinervium and Isothecium striatulum c.fr. Ron Porley found Orthotrichum stramineum.
In the evening a council meeting was held in the Walton Park Hotel, Clevedon.
Sunday 7 April.
A fine but windy morning was spent on the slopes of Crook Peak in the southern edge of the Mendips. Harold Whitehouse found and photographed Barbula hornschuchiana c.fr. Bryum caespiticium var. imbricatum was again found, this time by David Long who also found Campylopus fragilis and Rhodobryum roseum. The south facing slopes support Pleurochaete squarrosa, Phascum curvicolle, Pottia lanceolata and P. recta and Mark Hill found Pottia starkeana ssp. starkeana var. brachyodus. Nick Hodgetts found Metzgeria conjugata and Eustace Jones found Cephaloziella stellulifera which he also recorded in Burrington Coombe and Ebbor Gorge in the 1959 BBS meeting. Other species seen included Bryum canariense c.fr., Entodon concinnus, Lophozia excisa and Tritomaria quinquedentata c.gemmae. The best find of the day was Porella obtusata by Nick Hodgetts which was new to v.-c . 6.
In the afternoon the Avon Wildlife Trust reserve at Goblin Coombe was visited. The site consists of mixed woodland with short turf in open areas below cliffs. Marchesinia mackaii was found growing over the rock face and extending onto the trunk of a Yew tree which was growing out of a crack in the cliff face. Bryum canariense and Dicranum bonjeanii were found in the openings on the cliffs and in the woodland Fissidens exilis and F. incurvus were found. Small amounts of Hylocomium brevirostre were seen and David Long found Orthotrichum tenellum and Phascum curvicolle. Other species seem were Isothecium striatulum, Plagiothecium latebricola and a mixed patch of Lejeunea cavifolia and L. lamacerina.
Monday 8 April.
The Black Rock area of the Cheddar Gorge showed a range of habitats – rock faces. quarry floor, walls, woodland and grassy slopes. Boulders in the woodland had Platydictya confervoides, Hylocomium brevirostre, Isothecium striatulum, Scapania aspera and Neckera crispa c.fr. Hygrohypnum luridum was found growing on a wall. On the quarry floor David Long found Barbula reflexa and Entodon concinnus. On the slopes leading up to the top of the gorge were Bryum caespiticium var. imbricatum and Funaria muhlenbergii. Alan Crundwell found Riccia subbifurca here growing with R. sorocarpa.
In the afternoon Kings Castle wood near Wells was visited. It proved a little dry and the most interesting plants we found were Platydictya confervoides, Hylocomium brevirostre, Taxiphyllum wissgrillii and Porella arboris-vitae var. arboris-vitae.
Michael Fletcher failed to find us after visiting Wells en route from Cheddar Gorge but did manage to see extensive Tortula papillosa on lime trees in the city.
Tuesday 9 April.
In the morning Berrow dunes was disappointing in that the few wet areas in the dunes did not have the Riccia cavernosa and Petalophyllum ralfsii we tried to refind. In the dunes Tortula ruraliformis and Rhynchostegium megapolitanum were found. Frank Lammiman found Tortella flavovirens and Nick Hodgetts found Cololejeunea minutissima epiphytic in scrub in the dunes in only the second record for N. Somerset.
A pleasant final sunny afternoon was spent on Brean Down where no great surprises were seen on this well worked site. Amongst the bryophytes were Grimmia trichophylla, Pleurochaete squarrosa, Pottia starkeana ssp. conica, Scleropodium tourettii, Reboulia hemisphaerica, Trichostomum brachydontium, Funaria pulchella and Weissia levieri.
During the week more than 200 species of moss and 40 species of liverwort were seen and hopefully everyone enjoyed the North Somerset countryside. We managed to find only one new v.-c. record, though perhaps not unexpectedly, in a well-worked area. This is largely due to the previous thorough field work of the late Joan Appleyard.
I am grateful to the various bodies who gave permission to visit the sites and to participants in forwarding records to me.