Summer meeting 1956: Aviemore

HomeEventsSummer meeting 1956: Aviemore

21 July 1956 - 4 August 1956

Meeting report

Aviemore in Inverness-shire was chosen, mainly on the suggestion of the President, for the summer meeting held from 21 July to 4 August. Thirty members attended, many for both weeks, some for shorter periods. Part of the ground visited lay within the Cairngorm Nature Reserve. Mr J. Grant Roger, who was with us part of the time, will be glad to have lists with data of plants observed by members, for the Nature Conservancy’s archives. We were glad to have with us our member Mr Gillis Een, who, on a wet Sunday afternoon, very kindly entertained us with his colour slides of scenery and bryophytes from several lands and from the environs of Stockholm, his home district. It was expected that many new county records would be made, for several members had listed the possibilities for V.C.’s 94, 95 and 96, all of which came within our area, V.C. 95 being much closer than we had realized.

21 July. The first day’s work was around Lochan Eilean, Ord Ban and its outcrops of basic rock, and Cairn Loch Gamhna. Plants found included Lophozia longidens on old junipers, Sphenolobus minutus c.per., S. saxicolus (a new locality), Chandonanthus setiformis var. alpinus, Cynodontium bruntoni, C. polycarpum, C. gracilescens* sparingly, Tetraplodon mnioides, Ulota drummondii, Antitrichia curtipendula, Plagiothecium roeseanum, Hypnum cupressiforme var. resupinatum*, and Ditrichum cylindricum from undisturbed ground in an old stone working on Ord Ban, detected, needless to say, by Dr Jones.

[* = New v.c. record]

22 July. The visit to the Pass of Ryvoan was primarily to see Sphenolobus saxicolus, although it had been found the day before. It occurred amongst the tumbled boulders near the loch, with Lophozia floerkei, L.. hatcheri, L. attenuata, Anastrepta orcadensis and much Chandonanthus setiformis var. alpinus, which in fact proved locally abundant in many localities in the district. Other species seen included Douinia ovata, Calypogeia neesiana, Scapania gracilis (scarce), Cynodontium strumiferum, Dicranum spurium in an unusual habitat among rocks, Zygodon mougeotii, and Fontinalis squamosa During the wet afternoon fine Ptilium crista-castrensis was seen in the pine woods by Loch Morlich. Mr Crundwell found Archidium alternifolium*, on the loch shore.

23 July. The stony road up to Achlean on the right bank of the Feshie was taken, when we climbed up over Carn Ban Mor to work the crags at the head of Loch Einich. The rock is somewhat basic with a more varied flora than on the adjacent granite forming Sgoran Dubh. On Carn Ban Mor we noted Moerckia blyttii, Marsupella aquatica, Nardia compressa, Lophozia alpestris, Dicranum falcatum, D. starkei, Pohlia ludwigii, Philonotis seriata and Conostomum tetragonum. Rain hampered work on the crags, but we saw Anastrophyllum donianum, Jamesoniella carringtoni, Lepidozia pearsoni, Scapania nimbosa, S. ornithopodioides, Arctoa fulvella, Dicranodontium uncinatum abundantly, Tetraphis browniana* and Ctenidium molluscum var. condensatum. Several of these hepatics and also Dicranodontium uncinatum are widespread and locally abundant on the hills of the western highlands, becoming progressively scarcer eastwards. In the Cairngorm massif, however, there are several corries where the two Scapanias, Anastrophyllum donianum and sometimes Jamesoniella carringtoni occur. Anastrophyllum donianum is found as far east as Lochnagar, the Scapanias not as yet beyond Coire Etchachan.

24 July. An easy day was now taken on the low ground of Abernethy Forest. A stretch of boggy moorland near Wester Tulloch yielded Lophozia kunzeana, Dicranum spurium, Splachnum ampullaceum in beautiful fruit, Mnium affine, and in an adjacent woodland Dicranum montanum*, D. strictum, Orthotrichum speciosum, Drepanocladus fluitans* and Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus Elsewhere in Abernethy Lophozia porphyroleuca, Cephalozia leucantha, Frullania fragilifolia, Sphagnum magellanicum, Orthotrichum striatum, O. Speciosum, which is widespread in the Spey valley, were seen. Near Loch Vaa (V.C. 95) there were noted Fossombronia dumortieri, Lophozia bicrenata, Ephemerum serratum and Pohlia bulbifera*.

25 July. This day will be remembered for the long walk from Loch Morlich to the ridge between Cairngorm and Cairn Lochan, most of the time being spent in the ‘snowy corrie’ which was exceedingly windy. Most of the party reached the higher slopes to observe and note the conditions of growth for such plants of the high places as Andreaea nivalis, Polytrichum norvegicum, Arctoa fulvella, Dicranum starkei, D. glaciale, Ditrichum zonarum, Pohlia ludwigii, P. albicans var. glacialis, Amphidium lapponicum, Plagiothecium platyphyllum, Moerckia blyttii, Gymnomitrium varians, Lophozia opacifolia*, Anthelia juratzkana, and Pleuroclada albescens (rather poor). Amongst boulders on the corrie floor there was Scapania nimbosa, and in the burn Marsupella sphacelata, Harpanthus flotowianus, Scapania uliginosa, and Acrocladium sarmentosum very fine. Anastrepta orcadensis occurred with Lepidozia pearsoni under heather in the lower part of the corrie.

26 July. As it is the Society’s policy to visit and examine new ground, the virtually unknown ground of the Monadhliaths had to be included in the programme. Glen Banchor, in which several small promising corries are found, was chosen and most members reached the crags about Loch Dubh. Near the loch there occurred Grimmia apocarpa var. gracilis*, G. patens, Bryum mildeanum*, B. muehlenbeckii*, Philonotis seriata and Pterygynandrum filiforme. The crags were of somewhat basic rock and yielded Moerckia blyttii, Gymnomitrium crenulatum*, Anastrophyllum donianum, Lophozia alpestris, Radula lindbergiana, Dicranum blyttii, Grimmia funalis, G. torquata, Barbula ferruginascens, Pohlia drummondii, P. rothii, Plagiobryum zierii, Bartramia pomiformis var. crispa, Pseudoleskea patens, Eurhynchium swartzii*, Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides*, Plagiothecium pulchellum and P. striatellum.

On Cam Macoul Dr Jones collected Calypogeia trichomanis, leaf cells with deep blue oil-bodies and the whole plant of a bluish green tint. It was mixed with C. muelleriana. In woods at the lower end of Glen Banchor, Plagiochila spinulosa occurred, a local plant on Speyside.

27 July. The weather was good for our visit to Glen Feshie, which was just as well, as members were expecting a good day from the knowledge that the secretary had found some very interesting plants in 1951, including Tortula subulata var. graeffii and Ctenidium procerrimum. These were found again in different ravines on the ground worked about two or three miles beyond the Lodge. The members split up into several groups to cover more ground, and all encountered some of their desiderata and more besides.

Amongst his gatherings Dr Warburg later recognized two plants not before recorded in the British Isles, Weissia wimmeriana and Grimmia atrofusca. Mr C. C. Townsend found Rhytidium rugosum* (which has recently been found in several new areas in Scotland), but later he discovered some Saelania caesia* amongst his plants. Hitherto this plant was scarcely known in Scotland except sparingly in Clova. On the crags northeast of Lochan an t’ Sluic the rotten rocks were very basic, the usual species (headed by Distichium capillaceum) of such places being present, and in addition Leiocolea mulleri, Cephalozia pleniceps, Scapania aequiloba, Cololejeunea calcarea, Amphidium lapponicum, Myurella julacea, Pseudoleskea catenulata var. acuminata*, and Amblystegiella sprucei*. In the vicinity of Creag Bheag further species noted were Encalypta rhabdocarpa*, Trichostomum crispulum *, Grimmia apocarpa var. gracilis, Bartramia halleriana*, both Orthotheciums, Campylium sommerfeltii*, Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides, Hygrohypnum eugyrium and Hypnum hamulosum. From a rocky slope on west side of Allt Lorgaidh, Mr Crundwell noted Fissidens viridulus (alt. 2000 ft.), Philonotis tomentella*, Mnium orthorrhynchum, Plagiopus oederi and Metzgeria pubescens. On old junipers near the Lodge Dicranum strictum and Lophozia longidens were refound. An interesting feature of Glen Feshie is the low altitude at which some plants were found, Ctenidium procerrimum and non-viviparous Poa alpina being examples at well below 2000 ft. All the ground in upper Glen Feshie would well repay further examination.

28 July. Time was up for some members; those staying on mostly went to the Culbin Sands, searching for maps or mosses on the way. Grantown on Spey yielded both maps for Haplomitrium hookeri which was the main objective, and Cynodontium jenneri in an adjacent pine wood. The rendezvous for three car-loads of bryologists was an extensive waste of sand and pine plantations in various stages of development with attractive damp slacks here and there, separated by leagues of brushwood-covered barrens. Diligent searching for Haplomitrium rewarded Mrs J. W. Fitzgerald and others, Fossombronia dumortieri, Cephaloziella rubella and C. hampeana showing up in the process.

Other hepatics observed included Marchantia polymorpha var. aquatica, Riccardia sinuata, R. pinguis with gemmae, Lophozia excisa, L. barbata, L. hatcheri, Scapania gracilis, S. compacta and Odontoschisma denudatum with the rare lichen Stereocaulon glareosum. Lophozia hatcheri occurred in a robust form which was taken at first sight for L. lycopodioides. Mosses found included Bryum pendulum, Mnium rugicum, Brachythecium mildeanum*, Campylium polygamum, whilst Tortula ruraliformis and Brachythecium albicans appeared to be scarce. Rain set in on the evening drive back to Aviemore, curtailing our activities until Tuesday 31 July except for a few sallies forth in search of Buxbaumia in the shelter of pine woods. One of these was successful near Loch Vaa, also providing Pohlia annotina var. decipiens, V.C. 95.

31 July. In Glen Tromie, five miles west of Glen Feshie, we had unknown ground, consisting of birchwood and a rocky steep hillside near Glen Tromie lodge. Species seen included Cynodontium bruntoni, C. jenneri, C. polycarpum and C. strumiferum, Mnium affine*, Ulota drummondii, Orthothecium intricatum, Hylocomium umbratum, Riccia sorocarpa, Riccardia palmata, Lophozia longidens, L. hatcheri, Douinia ovata, Crossocalyx hellerianus sparingly, Plagiochila spinulosa, and abundant Chandonanthus.

1 August. Our next essay at the high ground took us up the Cairngorm path to the summit, 4084 ft., With a diversion around the northeast slopes for Moerckia blyttii, Marsupella sphacelata, Gymnomitrium alpinum, Polytrichum norvegicum and Dicranum glaciale. In a dry mist we groped our way down into the head of Loch Avon, past the head of Coire an t’ Sneachda and Cairn Lochan to the crags above the Lairig Ghru. The ground draining into Loch Avon being in Banff, we were on the look-out for species not recorded, and noted Marsupella ustulata*, and Nardia breidleri*. A little Cephalozia ambigua was seen, and much Pleuroclada albescens, rather poor compared with the Ben Nevis plant. Mr Crundwell gathered Marsupella stableri, and the Secretary various Gymnomitriums and Marsupellas that will take time to examine, if he has any! Many forms of Dicranum fuscescens occurred near snow patches; Andreaea nivalis was very poor.

2 August. Nowhere near at hand on the Monadhliath seemed more attractive than Creag Mheagaidh at the far western end, as a rumour of good ground in Coire Ardair caught our imagination. In 1870 Prof. T. Barker had recorded Dicranum elongatum, and in 1955 Dr C. D. Pigott reported interesting ground on the extensive plateau above the corrie. After an hour’s drive, a pleasant walk up Coire Ardair brought us to the loch at just over 2000 ft. with great gullied cliffs towering up another 1500 ft. On and amongst marginal boulders were Grimmia hartmanii, Leptodontium recurvifolium, Pterygynandrum filiforme, Thuidium delicatulum, Hylocomium umbratum and Herberta adunca. The foot of the cliffs and the gullies yielded Barbula ferruginascens, Encalypta ciliata, Mnium orthorrhynchum* Amphidium lapponicus, Pseudoleskea patens, Brachythecium starkei, Plagiothecium striatellum, Hylocomium pyrenaicum, Jamesoniella carringtoni and Anastrophyllum donianum. Mr Crundwell found Philonotis seriata and Hygrohypnum ochraceum, and went through the ‘Window’ to find, near the Lochan Uaine on Creag Mheagaidh, Diplophyllum taxifolium, Scapania nimbosa, S. paludosa, and a promise of more good ground on a future visit. The hills in this area, and those about Ben Alder south of Loch Laggan are almost unknown bryologically, and are in need of investigation to show among other things how far east the plants of the western Highlands may come. The presence or absence of such conveniently distinct and conspicuous plants such as Pleurozia purpurea and Herberta hutchinsiae is easily established as a guide to the occurrence of others in this group that are less easily noticed.

On the last two days of the week the party was thinned by departures, but more work was done in Strath Nethy, and on Braeriach by Dr Jones. Miss Bexon was rewarded by finding Buxbaumia aphylla after a long search near Loch Garten, and the secretary concluded with Dicranum strictum* at the Hotel on a stump (V.C. 95).

Our sincere thanks are due to those members who helped with their cars to make the meeting so successful and enjoyable.

E. C. Wallace