Summer meeting 1974: Orkney

HomeEventsSummer meeting 1974: Orkney

1 September 1974 - 6 September 1974

Meeting report

The second week was held in Orkney (v. -c. 111 ). Only six members attended and one of them left on 4 September. The terrain was mostly sandstone and predominantly flat, nowhere rising to 1000 feet except on the island of Hoy, the only place where there were interesting gullies or ravines.

1 September. The first area visited was the Sands of Evie. Here we saw Dichodontium pellucidum var. fagimontanum and Tortella flavovirens, the only things worth mentioning. A short walk took us to the Broch of Gurness, at Aiker Ness. Pottia heimii and Grimmia maritima (noted frequently during the meeting) were seen and a fine patch of Pottia recta occurred near the Broch. Bryum micro-erythrocarpum* provided a vice- county record. A move was then made to some limestone outcrops at Aikerness. Lejeunea patens and Tortula subulata were the most interesting species seen here. Below the outcrops were calcareous flushes with Drepanocladus aduncus, D. revolvens var. revolvens and Scorpidium scorpioides. We parked for lunch in an old quarry at Arwick and then explored the Hill of Owarmo and Vishal Hill, in pouring rain. Funaria obtusa, F. attenuata, Archidium alternifolium and Bryum alpinum were the only relief in a dull area although Ephemerum serratum agg. was collected, the spores being too immature for identification of the segregate. On our return to the quarry a search among the abandoned ironmongery of Arwick was rewarded with Seligeria recurvata.

The morning of 2 September was spent in the Dale of Cottascarth (R.S.P.B.), a moorland area where many small streams originated, some of them too overgrown to provide bryological habitats. Philonotis calcarea, Cratoneuron commutatum and Grimmia stricta were found although most of the ground was acid. Leiocolea bantriensis and Bryum alpinum were seen and Pohlia rothii* and P. bulbifera* were collected on a track near Upper Cottascarth Farm.

After lunch, by kind permission of the owner, Binscarth Wood near Finstown, practically the only patch of woodland on the ‘Mainland’, was investigated. The stream flowing through the wood was badly polluted and although several species were added to the record card, nothing of interest was seen. We then moved on to the Loch of Wasdale. The shore of the loch was disappointing except for Bryum klinggraeffii* so we followed the stream up Wasdale. Here again the ground was mostly acidic with basic undertones, providing such species as Tortella tortuosa, Trichostomum crispulum and Philonotis calcarea. Grimmia alpicola var. rivularis was seen in the stream, Archidium alternifolium and Dicranella schreberana on the banks and Acrocladium giganteum and Chiloscyphus pallescens in a flush. In an old quarry on the hillside, Ptychomitrium polyphyllum was noted and Campylopus brevipilus occurred on moorland near the quarry.

3 September. A projected visit to Hoy was almost abandoned because of the atrocious weather but a report of qualified optimism from the local Meteorological Office encouraged us to go ahead and in the event we suffered nothing worse than some mist and an unusually vicious plague of midges. The Glen of Greor was chosen for exploration and proved quite rewarding, Nowellia curvifolia was found growing on peat as we climbed up to the Glen. In the Glen itself Antitrichia curtipendula was found, confirming a previous record for the locality. Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides, Barbula ferruginascens, Bartramia ithyphylla, Fissidens osmundoides, Isopterygium pulchellum, Trichostomum brachydontium var. littorale, Leiocolea bantriensis, Herberta adunca, Tritomaria quinquedentata, Radula lindbergiana and Blepharostoma trichophyllum were seen and the following records for Orkney were made: Plectocolea subelliptica*, Gymnostomum calcareum*, Anomobryum filiforme*, Plagiobryum zieri*, Mnium stellare* and Campylium chrysophyllum*. Dicranella rufescens was found by Sandy Loch after descending from the Glen and Amblystegium juratzkanum was collected near the Pier.

On 4 September some dune areas were investigated. Sandside Bay and Dingieshowe, on the eastern side of the ‘Mainland’, proved disappointing although Dingieshowe yielded Bryum argenteum var. lanatum*. The dunes near Bow, on the island of Burray were better. Here we found Leiocolea badensis*, L. muelleri, Preissia quadrata, Distichium inclinatum, Amblyodon dealbatus* and Camptothecium lutescens. Marshy ground to the north of the dunes added Cratoneuron commutatum var. falcatum and Philonotis calcarea, while along the shore Eucladium verticillatum and Amblystegium serpens var. salinum were seen.

A second visit to Hoy was made on 5 September. Half the party chose to explore Berrie Dale, a deep ravine having at its lower end the only natural stand of trees on the island. The remaining members went to look at ground in the region of the Kame of Hoy, to the north. The long trek from the Pier was made by way of the Old Rackwick Road, a mere track rendered more like a watercourse by the recent heavy rains. Confirmation of a record for Hedwigia ciliata was sought along the ‘road’ but in vain, the only bryophyte of interest seen being Tetraplodon mnioides.

The trees of Berrie Dale, mostly birch, yielded little besides Ulota crispa and the ubiquitous U. phyllantha. The stream normally a mere trickle, was so swollen that crossing it was difficult, even hazardous, so that only the lowest portion of the ravine was workable. Having done what they could, the thwarted Berrie Dale contingent climbed the hillside and crossed the stream above the ravine in order to work down to Rackwick. On the moorland Tetraplodon mnioides was seen again, also some patches of Campylopus brevipilus. Mylia taylori, Bazzania trilobata, B. tricrenata and Lepidozia pinnata were some of the species seen growing on the grassy slopes of Grut Fea. This was an unusual habitat for Lepidozia pinnata. The five miles back to the Pier were made, by arrangement, in the van of an obliging farmer, who then picked up the rest of the party as they were trudging back to the boat.

6 September. The valley bog of Glims Moss was chosen for the last day. The Moss was for the most part unremarkable. Among the many species of Sphagnum noted was a great deal of S. magellanicum. Riccardia palmata grew on the sides of a runnel and where almost unrelieved Sphagnum species gave way to rather more interesting conditions, Leiocolea bantriensis and Calypogeia sphagnicola* were found. After lunch we tried our luck on the Dee of Durkadale, a fen area two miles north of Glims Moss. Here we found Trichocolea tomentella* in abundance, Acrocladium giganteum, Mnium rugicum* and M. seligeri*. A short visit was then made to a marshy place near a small lake at Greenay. Scorpidium scorpioides was dominant here and Pottia davalliana* was found on a nearby track.

It was interesting to note that although several crop fields were searched during the meeting they were found to be virtually devoid of bryophytes.

We are grateful to Mrs A. Thomson, who acted as Local Secretary and to Miss E. R. Bullard who, although not a bryologist, came with us every day and contributed much valuable topographical knowledge and advice.

J. Appleyard