Summer meeting 1964: Braemar

HomeEventsSummer meeting 1964: Braemar

22 August 1964 - 5 September 1964

Meeting report

This meeting was spent at Braemar from 22 August to 5 September. The locality and date were chosen in the hope that foreign bryologists would be able to come after the International Botanical Congress at Edinburgh. In the event only Mr W. D. Margadant attended but his enthusiasm made up for the lack of other foreign bryologists. Nineteen members attended all or part of the excursion and there were enough cars for daily transport. As on other recent excursions, all bryophytes seen were recorded on mapping cards.

The first excursion was to The Cairnwell, a hill on the border of v.c. 89 and 92. where there was known to be basic ground. The weather was very bad but, though the ground was not exciting compared with what was visited later, a number of new records were made and some interesting plants found. These included: in v.c. 89, Cratoneuron decipiens (also in v.c. 92), Plagiothecium curvifolium*, P. denticulatum var. obtusifolium*, Pohlia annotina, P. polymorpha*, Rhytidium rugosum, Sphagnum subsecundum var. auriculatum*, S. tenellum*, Cephalozia pleniceps, Cephaloziella hampeana*, Diplophyllum taxifolium, Harpanthus flotovianus (also in v.c. 92), Nardia compressa* and Tritomaria polita; in v.c. 92 Sphagnum lindbergii, Anthelia juratzkana, Calypogeia neesiana var. neesiana*, C. trichomanis*, Leiocolea bantriensis*, Lepidozia trichoclados*, and Moerckia flotoviana.

[* New v.c. record throughout.]

On 24 August Glen Callater (v.c. 92) and especially Corrie Kander were visited. The well-known rarities of the Corrie, notably Hygrohypnum smithii in the waterfall and Grimmia atrata and Mielichoferia elongata at the head of Loch Kander, were seen. Several characteristic mountain calcicoles were seen for the first time though several of them were seen again later in the excursion: Amphidium lapponicum, Barbula ferruginascens*, Bartramia hallerana, Dicranodontium uncinatum, Grimmia torquata, Hypnum hamulosum, Orthothecium rufescens, and Pseudoleskea patens. In this area was the best new find of the day, Leiocolea gillmanii*. On the high acid ground were such plants as Dicranum starkei, Philonotis seriata, Pohlia acuminata, P. ludwigii var. latifolia, P. polymorpha, P. wahlenbergii var. glacialis and Moerckia blyttii – all of them seen again later on similar ground. New v.c. records in the Corrie included: Anomobryum concinnatum*, Bryum muehlenbeckii*, Diphyscium foliosum var. acutifolium*, Fissidens cristatus*, Isopterygium elegans*, Plagiothecium platyphyllum*, P. roeseanum*, P. succulentum*, Pohlia proligera*, P. rothii*, Pellia neesiana* and Scapania scandica*. Other plants of interest included: Arctoa fulvella, Brachythecium glaciale, Barbilophozia lycopodioides (seen frequently later on the excursion), Frullania fragilifolia, Hygrobiella laxifolia, Marsupella stableri and Nardia geoscyphus. Bryum inclinatum* was found on a calcareous boulder by Loch Callater on the way down.

On the 25th the weather was unfavourable for the hills and it was decided to go to Glen Quoich, a valley on the lower ground 2 miles west of Braemar (v.c. 92). Two grid-squares were involved but are not separated in this account. The ground was mainly acid and the flora therefore much less rich than previously. A few rare plants were, however, found. The woods yielded Lophozia longidens and Sphenolobus helleranus with Calypogeia sphagnicola* in open areas. Pohlia bulbifera* and P. gracilis* occurred on a gravel flat by the river and Dicranum spurium under heather higher up. Two members found a base-rich outcrop higher up still above Clais Fheainaig which yielded Leucodon sciuroides, Orthothecium intricatum and Pseudoleskea catenulata*. Several members investigated a boulder scree on the slope of Creag Bhaig; here Cynodontium strumiferum and Sphenolobus saxicola occurred in quantity with a little Grimmia elongata, and on rocks above the scree a form of Grimmia torquata with a long hair-point occurred in company with the normal form. Tetraplodon angustatus was found in various places in the glen. Other new records were Chiloscyphus pallescens* and Frullania tamarisci var. robusta*.

The 26th was fine and Beinn a’ Bhuird (v.c. 92) was visited. The cars were left near Balnagower and in a pinewood near here some members of the party who were unable to go far discovered Buxbaumia aphylla which had not previously been seen in the vice-county this century. The other members proceeded up Gleann an t-Slugain. Here Dicranum spurium was soon seen among heather. Also in the glen was Atrichum undulatum var. minus* and near Slugain Lodge Bryum pallens var. fallax*, Cynodontium strumiferum and Polytrichum aurantiacum*. The Beinn a’ Bhuird party divided, some going into the corrie of Dubh Lochan which yielded Bryum capillare var. elegans*, B. muehlenbeckii,, Dicranum glaciale, Ditrichum zonatum, Philonotis seriata, Plagiothecium laetum*, P. striatellum, Pseudoleskea patens, Anastrophyllum donianum, Diplophyllum taxifolium, Lophozia opacifolia*, Marsupella adusta, M. stableri, M. ustulata and M. varians. Other parties went to the summit finding several of the high-level species of the preceding list but missed the more interesting ones; they added Bryum weigelii, Mnium seligeri*, Polytrichum norvegicum and Nardia breidleri. Another party, delayed by listing, decided that there was not time to go to Beinn a’ Bhuird and went to Creag an Dahl Beag where they found Grimmia apocarpa var. homodictyon*, Oncophorus wahlenbergii and Thuidium recognitum, also male Splachnum vasculosum and Sphagnum molle on Meall an t-Slugain on the way.

The next day was very wet and most of the party stayed in all morning. In the afternoon a long drive to Inverquharity Castle (v.c. 90) was made in order to see the two epiphytic rarities there: Orthotrichum obtusifolium and Tortula virescens. This was successful. On the way back a short stop was made at Kirkton of Kingoldrum (v.c. 90) where Tortula virescens was again found (a new locality for the plant).

On the 28th a visit was made to Gleann Bheag, Glen Shee (v.c. 89), a locality with several small outcrops of calcareous rock, noted for several rarities such as: Desmatodon leucostoma, Stegonia latifolia, Scapania cuspiduligera, S. gymnostomophila and Solenostoma schiffneri. All these were found. In spite of the locality being supposedly well worked some new records were made of which the most noteworthy was Bryum arcticum*, previously known in Britain only from Breadalbane: the others were Amblystegiella sprucei*, Gymnostomum calcareum*, Hypnum cupressiforme var. tectorum*, Pohlia acuminata*, P, elongata* Frullania tamarisci var. cornubica* and Marsupella sphacelata*. Other plants of interest were Aloina rigida, Amblyodon dealbatus, Bryum mildeanum, Catoscopium nigritum, Meesia uliginosa, Mnium orthorhynchum and Pseudoleskea catenulata. On the way back a stop was made by three members on some basic rocks above Glen Clunie Lodge (v.c. 92) where two rarities were found – Bryum arcticum* again and an as yet unidentified Scapania, belonging to section Curtae, with a fimbriate perianth. Other interesting finds were Cynodontium tenellum and Leiocolea heterocolpa.

On the 29th, the weather having improved, Caenlochan Glen (v.c. 90) was visited, the route over the top of Glas Maol being taken. Sphagnum magellanicum* was found in v.c. 89 on the way. Other plants demonstrated on Glas Maol (in v.c. 90) by members who had been there before were Sphagnum lindbergii and Splachnum vasculosum. Other plants on Glas Maol were Anthelia juratzkana, Marchantia polymorpha var. alpestris and Solenostoma atrovirens var. sphaerocarpoidea. It was not expected that much new would be found in the Glen as it had been frequently visited, but in fact three plants of considerable interest were found: Grimmia borealis*, the only bryophyte new to the British Isles found on the excursion, Mnium lycopodioides*, previously known in Britain only from Breadalbane, and Bryum arcticum* in its third new vice-county. Among plants already known from the vice-county the following may be mentioned: Campylium halleri, Encalypta alpina, Grimmia trichodon, Hypnum bambergeri, Mnium spinulosum, Plagiothecium platyphyllum, P. striatellum, Pseudoleskea catenulata, P. incurvata, P. patens, Ptychodium plicatum, Thuidium recognitum, Harpanthus flotovianus, Lophozia opacifolia., and Scapania cuspiduligera.

This ended the first week of the Excursion and several members unfortunately had to leave. We were reinforced by others, one of whom had a better geological map and more geological knowledge than the party previously had. This, the improved (indeed good) weather and the fact that the best previously known localities in the area had been visited in the first week enabled us to devote much of the second week to exploring unknown localities.

The first such chosen was Craig Leek (v.c. 92), a hill of just over 2000 ft. about 2 miles E.N.E. of Braemar with a cliff on its east side which appeared from the map (and proved to be) calcareous. A road reached to about ½ mile from the cliff. Orthotrichum speciosum was found on a pine stump shortly after leaving the cars. A bog which had to be crossed to reach the rocks yielded Campylopus brevipilus* and Calypogeia sphagnicola. The rocks themselves proved very rich and yielded Anomobryum concinnatum (also A. filiforme), Barbula reflexa*, Bryum capillare var. elegans, B. mildeanum, Desmatodon leucostoma* (the only other known extant British locality being Gleann Bheag), Encalypta rhabdocarpa*, Grimmia atrofusca* (the second British locality), G. montana, G. stricta, Stegonia latifolia, Tortula subulata var. graeffii*, Anthelia juratzkana, Leiocolea badensis*, Lophozia excisa*, Scapania gymnostomophila* (the second British locality), Solenostoma schiffneri* and such characteristic though fairly common calcicoles as Seligeria doniana, Scapania aequiloba and S. aspera.

The 31st was brilliant and Lochnagar (v.c. 92) was chosen, the main object being to try and refind Marsupella sparsifolia in its only British locality, a subsidiary one being to try and refind Hygrohypnum molle which was recorded for the mountain but details of the locality were not known to us. The first was achieved, the Marsupella being refound in some quantity. The second led to a considerable amount of wetting when a Hygrohypnum was found, but it proved to be only H. ochraceum. Otherwise the plants found were characteristic but commoner acid alpine species including Conostomum boreale, Dicranum falcatum, D. glaciale and D. starkei, Anthelia juratzkana, Cephalozia pleniceps, Lophozia opacifolia, Marsupella adusta, M. sphacelata, M. stableri, M. ustuluta, M. varians, Nardia breidleri, Scapania paludosa, S. scandica and S. uliginosa.

The success of the excursion to Craig Leek led us to believe that another day on limestone near Braemar might be worth while, so on September 1st Morrone (v.c. 92), a hill about 2 miles S.W. of Braemar, reaching a height of 3819 ft., was visited. The calcareous ground was on the northern slope at an elevation of about 2000 – 2250 ft. There was much less calcareous rock than on Craig Leek but calcareous flushes occurred and the day was equally successful. We started up Allt a Chlair where Cratoneuron commutatum var. virescens*, new to Eastern Scotland, occurred in the stream and Meesia uliginosa and Tritomaria polita in flushes by it. The limited area of calcareous rock nearer Braemar yielded Grimmia stricta, Seligeria doniana, Stegonia latifolia, Cololejeunea calcarea, Leiocolea heterocolpa, Metzgeria pubescens, Scapania cuspiduligera*, S. gymnostomophila and Solenostoma schiffneri. A small basic flush yet farther east had Amblystegiella sprucei, Bryum pseudotriquetrum var. bimum*, Mnium marginatum var. marginatum, Tayloria lingulata*,, Barbilpohozia quadriloba*, Leiocolea gillmanii and again Tritomaria polita. Other bryophytes of interest on more acid ground, trees, etc., included Bryum microerythrocarpum*, Zygodon viridissimus var. vulgaris*, Calypogeia neesiana var. neesiana, C. sphagnicola, Cephalozia pleniceps, Fossombronia wondraczekii*, Lophozia longidens and Ptilidium pulcherrimum (P. ciliare was also present).

The next day was again clear and it was decided to visit Glas Tulaichean, 3445 ft. (v.c. 89), where basic ground at a high altitude was believed to occur. Cars were taken to Dalmunzie Lodge and the glen of Allt Ghlinn Thaitneich walked up. On both sides of the glen rocks which looked basic were seen at intervals but we passed on and made for the north corrie of the mountain. On reaching the corrie our first feeling was one of disappointment as there was only one quite small area of rock which looked basic. This proved to be so but on reaching the rocks our disappointment soon vanished. The first sign of better things was Oncophorus virens in quantity on the slope below the rocks. The rocks themselves appeared to be of mica schist and many of the Lawers and Caenlochan rarities occurred. Rare calcicoles were: Bryum arcticum, Encalypta alpina*, Hylocomium pyrenaicum* , Hypnum bambergeri*, Mnium spinosum, Pseudoleskea incurvata, Ptychodium plicatum*, Leiocolea gillmanii*, and Tritomaria polita. Other new vice-county records were Bryum capillare var. elegans*, Barbilophozia lycopodioides*, Bazzania tricrenata*, Calypogeia neesiana*, C. trichomanis*, Eremonotus myriocarpus*, Lophozia opacifolia*, Marsupella varians* and Nardia breidleri*. On the way back some members visited Creag Dhearg where Orthothecium rufescens occurred and Thuidium delicatulum* grew on the slope below.

On 3 September Ben Macdhui (4296 ft.), the highest mountain in the area, was ascended. There was little time for botanizing until the high levels were reached though Anastrophyllum donianum was found in Coire Etchachan. At these levels were the same high alpine species as on Beinn a’ Bhuird and Lochnagar with the addition of Andreaea nivalis and Pleuroclada albescens.

Two members visited Tomintoul instead and in v.c. 94 found on limestone rocks near Bridge of Avon: Gymnostomum recurvirostrum* and Leiocolea turbinata*, and in Ailnack Gorge near Delnabo, Breutelia chrysocoma*, Plagiobryum zieri* and Pseudoleskea catenulata.

On the last day, 4 September, another visit was made to the Glen Shee area starting from Gleann Bheag (v.c. 89). The stream to the south of Creagan Bheithe was ascended and afterwards calcareous flushes on the west side of the hill were examined. Plants of interest seen included Catoscopium nigritum, Dicranella grevilleana, Cephalozia pleniceps, Cephaloziella subdentata*, Cololejeunea calcarea, Harpanthus flotovianus, Lophozia porphyroleuca, Marchantia polymorpha var. aquatica*, and Tritomaria polita. Two members walked over to Creag Lamhaich where there was dry calcareous rock which proved rather disappointing though there was an abundance of such plants as Grimmia funalis and Hypnum hamulosum; the only plant not previously seen during the fortnight was Myurella julacea which was present in quantity; Pohlia proligera* also occurred.

Other new county records (v.c. 92) made in the neighbourhood of Braemar during the week were Cephaloziella hampeana* and Plagiothecium denticulatum var. denticulatum* from above the road 1 mile west of the village, and Bryum bicolor* from the bridge in the village.

The main feature of this very successful excursion was not so much in species new to Britain though one, Grimmia borealis, was found, nor in any very marked extensions of range, the most marked being Cratoneuron commutatum var. virescens, but the finding of many rare species in new vice-counties and new localities. In all, 13 new vice-county records were made of 10 species previously recorded from three or fewer vice-counties as follows (numbers preceding the lists are the number of vice counties from which the species was previously recorded, numbers in parentheses the number of new vice-county records for the species, if more than one).

1: Bryum arcticum (3), Grimmia atrofusca, Mnium lycopodioides, Plectocolea subelliptica, Scapania gymnostomophila.

2: Desmatodon leucostoma, Barbilophozia quadriloba, Leiocolea gillmanii (2), Solenstoma schiffneri.

3: Ptychodium plicatum.

In addition there were 15 records of 12 taxa previously known only from 5 to 9 vice-counties. In all nearly a hundred new vice-county records were made. Many of us before we went on the excursion regarded the area as well-worked and though we were hoping to see plants new to us (which we all did) we were not expecting to make many interesting discoveries.

We were very sorry that Dr N. M. Pritchard, whom we thank for making the original arrangements, was unable to be with us. We also thank Mr E. C. Wallace for planning the programme and for leading us during the first week.

E. F. Warburg