(The AGM was held on 19 August, as part of Symposium on Modern Approaches to Bryophyte Systematics.)
The summer meeting followed immediately after the Symposium on Modern Approaches to Bryophyte Systematics, and was much better attended than usual, with perhaps 50 participants on the first excursion, dropping gradually to the more manageable number of 15 or so on the last. The Bangor area is well known bryologically, and we did not expect to make many new finds. However, numerous useful records were made for the mapping scheme, and there were even a few new vice-county records, including Seligeria brevifolia new to Britain.
Sunday 20 August. The first excursion was to the old slate quarries at Talysarn, an area of industrial dereliction with mossy old tracks, walls and waste heaps. We were dismayed, therefore, to find not old tracks and walls when first we arrived, but a great sea of slate rubble in the process of being “landscaped” by the authorities. With trepidation we set out across this great grey ugliness, threading our way among vast bulldozers, which threatened to landscape us as well as the slate. All bryologists got through safely, and most were rewarded with a copious array of bryophytes, including several that were uncommon – e.g. Campylopus subulatus, Philonotis arnellii, Diplophyllum obtusifolium, Marsupella funckii and Riccia warnstorfii. Unfortunately, some participants got left behind, and were deterred by a notice “private, keep out, beware guard dogs” daubed on a wall, with the result that they missed the better ground. However, this inauspicious start was soon put to rights in the afternoon, where warm and sunny weather attended us on the crags of Craig Cwmdulyn. There were several Atlantic species to be seen, including Campylopus setifolius, Dicranum scottianum, Barbilophozia atlantica, Douinia ovata, Gymnomitrion crenulatum and Plagiochila punctata. Those who felt in need of a further dose of the Atlantic went to Llwyn-coed Wood near Cymyglo, where they saw Anastrepta orcadensis, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Metzgeria temperata and Plagiochila spinulosa.
Monday 21 August. This day was scheduled for Snowdon, but the weather was not too good. Indeed, it was rather bad, and had we known that our two Spanish participants would take the train to the top of Snowdon we should have sung “Farewell and adieu to you fine Spanish Ladies” in most doleful tones, for fear that they would not return. The majority of the party set off to go up Cwm Glas Mawr, and got unpleasantly steamed up in the drizzle.
Several plants of interest were seen near Llyn Glas, including Amphidium lapponicum, Andreaea alpina, Seligeria brevifolia, Tetrodontium brownianum, Bazzania tricrenata, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Herberta adunca, H. straminea, Hygrobiella laxifolia, Marsupella ustulata and Porella cordaeana. In search of better weather the party descended to the lowlands early, and went to Tyn-y-Maes by the Afon Ogwen above Bethesda. A number of interesting plants were seen, including Ulota hutchinsiae, Barbilophozia atlantica and Lepidozia pinnata.
Tuesday 22 August. The day due to be spent on Anglesey started wet, and as we sat in our cars at Newborough Warren we contemplated the dankness of an Atlantic climate. No sooner had we stepped out, however, than the rain abated, and we had a very pleasant morning, made particularly agreeable by beautiful displays of Pyrola rotundifolia and other flowers among the dunes. The bryophytes included several uncommon species in large quantity, e.g. Campylium elodes and C. protensum in almost every slack, Catoscopium nigritum more local but very abundant in some slacks, and Tortella inclinata in great profusion on drier ground. In addition there were smaller quantities of Barbula reflexa, Drepanocladus lycopodioides, Rhynchostegium megapolitanum, Moerckia flotowiana, Petalophyllum ralfsii and Riccardia incurvata. The Petalophyllum was notably scarce, and was only found after careful searching; presumably it must go underground in the summer, as it can be locally abundant in other seasons. Tortula ruraliformis c. spor. was found growing intermixed with T. ruralis, and was distinct, in habit, stature and colour. The large size of the spores (16-19 µm.) suggests that it may be worth more than the varietal or subspecific rank accorded to it by recent authors (e.g. Düll, 1977; Smith, 1978). A rapid dash to see the Aberffraw rarities was followed by a visit to the woods by Plas Lligwy on the other side of the island. Walls by the house produced Tortella nitida, and a limestone outcrop in the woods was clothed with a really admirable profusion of Marchesinia mackaii. Other limestone species included Isothecium striatulum, Scorpiurium circinatum and Taxiphyllum depressum.
Wednesday 23 August. The party went to Tanygrisiau near Blaenau Ffestiniog, and explored the area around Llyn Cwmorthin. Pseudobryum cinclidioides and Scapania paludosa were found growing together in a flush; Leptodontium flexifolium, Marsupella ustulata and Scapania umbrosa occurred on moorland and among rocks. But the area did not hold our interest, and we moved on to the gorge of the Afon Cynfal at Rhaeadr y Cwm. The sides of the gorge were steep and difficult to work, but proved rewarding, with Anoectangium warburgii (male), Barbula ferruginascens, Oedipodium griffithianum, Cololejeunea calcarea, Colura calyptrifolia, Eremonotus myriocarpus and Leiocolea bantriensis.
Thursday 24 August. Undeterred by the dreary conditions we had experienced on Snowdon, we set out for the gloomy cliffs of the Black Ladders (Ysgolion Duon). Attractive higher plants were notably abundant on ungrazed ledges, but the rock was perhaps a little too hard to be really outstanding for bryophytes. Nevertheless, many plants of interest were seen, including several that had been found in Cwm Glas Mawr, and also Dicranum blyttii, Hypnum callichroum, Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides, Plagiothecium denticulatum var. obtusifolium, P. platyphyllum, Splachnum sphaericum. Tetraplodon mnioides, Calypogeia trichomanis, Cephaloziella pearsonii. Marsupella adusta, Radula lindbergiana (female), Scapania scandica, S. uliginosa and Sphenolobus minutus
Friday 25 August. In the morning we set out to “do” the rarities of the Conway Valley for our overseas visitors, and Jeff Duckett succeeded in showing them Ditrichum plumbicola, Fissidens monguillonii, Myrinia pulvinata and Orthotrichum sprucei in quick succession near Trefriw. Then we went to Coedty Reservoir above Talybont, where there was a most attractive riparian community of a type not infrequent in Scotland but very rare in Wales, including Archidium alternifolium (abundant), Bryum bornholmense, Hypnum lindbergii, Pohlia camptotrachela, P. drummondii, Haplomitrium hookeri, Riccardia incurvata and Riccia sorocarpa. Finally we went to look at the ravine of the Afon Dulyn, where Aphanolejeunea microscopica grew on rocks by the waterfall; but the other species were mostly ones we had seen on previous days.
All in all, the meeting was a most successful one, and a fitting sequel to the symposium. It was particularly pleasant to have so many overseas visitors on the excursions, as they looked at our plants with fresh eyes. Anthelia julacea, Breutelia chrysocoma, Eurhynchium swartzii, Heterocladium heteropterum, Hyocomium armoricum and Leptodontium flexifolium became objects of special interest, instead of “just those common things again”. That was a real pleasure. It would be good now if more British bryologists would go overseas to give foreign bryologists the reciprocal pleasure. If the foreigners can take the trouble to come here, then surely we also should take the trouble to range more widely than in the past.
M. O. Hill