13 March 2002 - 20 March 2002
Bohemia Bog, Isle of Wight
by Rod Stern
The headquarters for this meeting was the Channel View Hotel at Shanklin. Mrs Lorna Snow, BBS recorder for VC 10 and local secretary for the meeting, was unable to join us for the excursions as she was caring for her sick husband but called in at the hotel on two or three occasions to check on progress. She said the meeting would be particularly useful because a new Flora of the Isle of Wight was being prepared for publication later in the year.
On the evening of Wednesday 13 March, Dr Colin Pope, the Isle of Wight County Council’s ecologist, gave an introduction to the ecology of the island. He also provided maps of all the locations to be visited and reported that where necessary he had obtained permissions from the landowners concerned.
Thursday 14 March
This mixed broadleaved ancient woodland on Hamstead Clay belongs to the People’s Trust for Endangered Species. The BBS Southern Group had surveyed the eastern end in 1992, so we examined the western end, in steady rain. The more interesting species seen included Ctenidium molluscum (the ‘woodland taxon’), Hookeria lucens, Orthotrichum striatum, Plagiothecium latebricola and Lejeunea lamacerina. The Isle of Wight Steam Railway runs through the wood and was separately recorded. Seligeria calycina and Rhynchostegiella curviseta were found there, and members were able to admire a fine show of flowering Narrow-leaved Lungwort (Pulmonaria longifolia) which has its British headquarters in the Isle of Wight. The access to this site passed a cottage near Woodhouse Farm, where Jonathan Sleath found Grimmia ovalis* growing on a clay tiled roof.
Woods by Palmers Brook
These woods are also on the Hamstead Clay. The water level in Palmers Brook was very high after the heavy rain, so no recording was possible along the banks. Leskea polycarpa (which is rare in VC 10) was seen on trees by the river in both woods. Orthotrichum stramineum and O. striatum were found in Brocks Copse, and O. pulchellum in Woodhouse Copse.
An ‘arable fields’ group looked at a field near Newbridge, where Tortella inflexa was found on a chalk stone. They also looked at another field at Wellow where Bryum violaceum* was recorded by Mark Hill and Chris Preston (it was also seen in the other field).
Friday 15 March
Bohemia Bog, Isle of Wight
This is a very small area and almost the only existing bog on the island. In spite of heavy rain, members were able to observe the remarkable bryological richness of the site. This includes seven species of Sphagnum, Aulacomnium palustre, Philonotis fontana* (first post-1950 record), Aneura pinguis, Riccardia latifrons, Kurzia pauciflora and Cephalozia macrostachya var. macrostachya (the last collected and determined by Jean Paton).
Chenia leptophylla was found in an arable field at Brook during the 1964 BBS meeting and described as Tortula vectensis, new to science. The only member present who had been to that meeting was Jean Paton, but Rod Stern had seen the plant at various times in more recent years. When we arrived at the site, we were dismayed to see that it had just been ploughed, but fortunately a very narrow strip adjoining the roadside fence had been left, and we were able to find some Chenia plants in a few patches of bare soil.
A field at Apse Heath was surveyed by an ‘arable fields’ group, and in spite of very bad weather they found twelve species, including Riccia sorocarpa.
Two chalk pits were visited. Strawberry Lane chalk pit is mainly south-facing chalk grassland with some scrub. The most interesting finds among a rich assemblage of calcicoles included Pleurochaete squarrosa, Tortula lanceola, Microbryum starckeanum, M. rectum and Scorpiurium circinatum. A splinter group looked at Lynch Lane chalk pit, which is near the previous one. As well as Pleurochaete, they recorded Didymodon acutus*, Brachythecium mildeanum and Pottiopsis caespitosa* c.fr., these being determined by Mark Hill.
An alder carr was inspected at Buddle Brook, Brighstone. Hookeria lucens was found to be locally abundant and Orthotrichum pulchellum was also seen.
Saturday 16 March
The visit here was very brief, and mainly to check on the status of Philonotis marchica. It was found on a damp rock face but in very small quantity and much reduced compared with some years ago. Also found were Epipterygium tozeri, Anthoceros punctatus, Phaeoceros laevis and a very small amount of Blasia pusilla.
Some of the most active members went down the steep sheltered valley comprising some landslip and mature woodland. David Holyoak found Bryum donianum* (first post-1950 record) on soil on a path, and some other species seen were B. gemmiferum, Eucladium verticillatum and Hookeria lucens.
Bonchurch Landslip is near the previous site and consists of wooded slopes and Upper Greensand rock faces and boulders, some of them large. Some of the site is inaccessible. Scorpiurium circinatum was abundant on rocks and stone walls. Other species included Cololejeunea rossettiana and Mnium stellatum found by David Long (both known from here for many years), as well as Phaeoceros laevis, Leptobarbula berica with immature capsules, and Rhynchostegiella curviseta.
Needles Old Battery and Scratchell’s Bay were inspected by a splinter group. They found a good selection of calcicoles and some less common pottiaceous species, such as Tortula protobryoides, T. lanceola and Microbryum starckeanum, as well as the seaside mosses Hennediella heimii and Tortella flavovirens.
At the end of the afternoon, in heavy rain, several members visited Shanklin Cliffs which are much altered through recent landslips. There are now few bryophytes to be seen but Bryum gemmiferum and Anthoceros punctatus* were collected.
Sunday 17 March
A small group visited this site, which was described at the 1964 BBS meeting as ‘alder fen carr’, but which is now much drier and lacking a number of species seen previously. Only Sphagnum fimbriatum was found out of the six Sphagnum species seen in 1964. However, some less common mosses were recorded, including Epipterygium tozeri, Plagiothecium latebricola and Platygyrium repens* (which was on trunks of several Salix trees).
Rocken End and St Catherine’s Point
This area (except for the part affected by recent landslips and which was inaccessible) was seen by all those attending at one time or another on this day. One of the special plants of this site is Acaulon triquetrum which was seen by most if not all those present. Other plants of interest included Tortula acaulon var. pilifera, T. viridifolia, Pterygoneurum ovatum, Bryum torquescens and Rhynchostegium megapolitanum. The weather was sunny and warm for a change.
Later in the afternoon we visited Tolt Rocks in most unpleasant wind and rain. These are a broken line of Upper Greensand rocks exposed to the west and the sea. We found plenty of Porella platyphylla but no one reported finding P. obtusata for which there had been a fairly recent record. As at the previous site, Scleropodium tourettii was frequent.
Monday 18 March
Shide Chalk Pit
This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest near Newport, consisting of a disused chalk pit with scrub and a small stream. Fruiting Leiocolea turbinata was abundant. Mosses seen included Campylium stellatum var. stellatum, Campyliadelphus chrysophyllus, Ditrichum gracile, Encalypta streptocarpa, Eucladium verticillatum, Seligeria calycina, S. calcarea and Gymnostomum viridulum*.
Fattingpark Copse is an oak woodland on the Hamstead Clay. Although no uncommon bryophytes were found, the wood is bryologically rich with 95 species recorded. Among the more interesting mosses were Ctenidium molluscum (the ‘woodland taxon’), Dichodontium pellucidum and Entosthodon fascicularis. Didymodon nicholsonii* was found on tarmac by the road access to the wood.
Tuesday 19 March
This is an extensive area of chalk grassland above the cliffs near Freshwater. The bryoflora was somewhat limited but included Neckera crispa, Microbryum curvicolle, Pleurochaete squarrosa, Rhynchostegium megapolitanum, Scorpiurium circinatum and Weissia sterilis* (first post-1950 record).
Belonging to the National Trust, this is an area of heathland with scrubby patches and some landslips, at the western end of the island. Lophocolea semiteres* was found by David Long and Gordon Rothero on peaty slopes under Calluna in the south-west part where they also saw Polytrichum piliferum which is uncommon in VC 10. In the eastern part, other members saw some epiphytes on scrub, including five species of Orthotrichum and Leptodon smithii (the only record for this moss in the whole week).
St Helens Duver
David Holyoak and Jean Paton looked at this area of sand dunes and scrub on their way home, and found Drepanocladus aduncus s.str., Bryum dunense and Cephaloziella hampeana.
The meeting was considered to be a success in spite of generally poor weather. Lorna Snow and Colin Pope were thanked for efficient organisation of an interesting and varied programme.
Isle of Wight