Summer meeting 1989: Aberystwyth

HomeEventsSummer meeting 1989: Aberystwyth

2 August 1989 - 9 August 1989

Meeting report

The meeting was based at the Penbryn Hall of Residence of the University of Wales. Seventeen people attended the meeting for at least some of the time, varying from 14 on Saturday to 7 on the final day. We were pleased to welcome Theo and Marie-Yvonne Arts from Belgium on their first BBS meeting. All the localities mentioned below are in V.C. 46 unless stated.

On the first evening, as we walked through the college campus to examine our laboratory, Jean Paton pointed out Marchantia alpestris* in cracks between paving stones. After this encouraging start the laboratory was found to be locked, and after a steep climb to the bar at the highest point of the campus, any hopes of a good chat about bryophytes were shattered by a loud jukebox. The misunderstanding over the laboratory, was sorted out on later evenings, but the problem of finding a quiet drinking-place was never fully resolved.

[* = new vice-county record]

3 August. The group assembled at Devil’s Bridge to meet the Nature Conservancy Council warden Mr John Davies, who had kindly agreed to show us the ‘easy way’ into the oak-clad gorge of the River Rheidol. Lepidozia pearsonii was locally abundant on banks, and Plagiochila punctata and Mylia taylori were seen in small quantity. Other species seen in the woodland included Plagiochila spinulosa, Scapania gracilis, Trichocolea tomentella, Bazzania trilobata, Cephaloziella hampeana and Sphagnum girgensohnii. Metzgeria leptoneura was found in a small wet ravine. The rocky outcrops proved to be basic in places, with Marchesinia mackaii, Amphidium mougeotii, Homalothecium sericeum, Neckera crispa and Tortella tortuosa. A brief misty rain was a welcome sight after such a hot dry summer. Sliding down a surprisingly damp scree to the river, some may have been grateful that this was not the ‘difficult way’ into the site. Lunch was eaten on level, well-illuminated rocks by the river. Jungermannia hyalina was abundant here, and Hygrobiella laxifolia was also detected on wet rocks. Old records for species such as Radula aquilegia and Lepidozia cupressina were not confirmed. It is probable that these were restricted to the less accessible and more humid areas of the gorge downstream but the difficulties of thoroughly searching such a large area of woodland, and the value of having accurately localised records, were evident.

In the afternoon two people visited the accessible part of the Mynach river above the point where it plunges into a steep gorge to join the Rheidol. Cololejeunea calcarea* was collected by Ray Woods on a vertical rock face where Neckera crispa was a conspicuous indicator of the presence of basic conditions

The remainder of the group visited Cwmystwyth mine. Despite the extensive spoil heaps of this old lead mine, little of interest was found. Leptodontium flexifolium was recorded amongst thin grass, and Pohlia muyldermansii and Philonotis arnellii were found by the nearby river and roadside. Nearby, at the confluence of the Diluw and Ystwyth members refound Bryum riparium. Large tufts of Atrichum crispum, a common species in upland Mid-Wales, occurred by the stream, and Plagiochila killarniensis* was found by Jeff Bates on a slightly basic outcrop.

In the evening a very civilised bar was discovered, and Harold Whitehouse was able to show us his impressive stereoscopic photographs of bryophytes.

4 August. The north-facing corrie overlooking the small lake of Llyn Llygad Rheidol which lies at 510 m on Plynlimon, was visited on a warm clear day. Species found included Anthelia julacea, Mylia taylori, Gymnomitrion crenulatum, G. obtusum (in small quantity), Lophozia incisa, Rhabdoweisia crispata, R. crenulata and Andreaea alpina (including one very large patch). Rod Stern and Michael Fletcher recorded Plagiothecium denticulatum var. obtusifolium* below a cliff overhang. Preissia quadrata and Rhizomnium pseudopunctatum were recorded in flushes.

Later, several people went separately to the site of the old Eaglebrook copper mine. This is a valuable site for metal-tolerant lichens, but no bryophytes confined to metal-rich substrata were detected. Dicranella varia, Jungermannia gracillima and Weissia controversa were abundant on the spoil heaps; other species recorded at the site included Cephaloziella stellulifera*, Gymnostomum aeruginosum*, Bryum pallescens*, Tetraplodon mnioides and Ditrichum lineare.

5 August. The shadeless expanse of the north-east bog of Cors Caron NNR (Tregaron Bog) was visited on a hot sunny day. The bog surface, old peat cuttings and a small area of sallow carr yielded Cephalozia macrostachya, C. loitlesbergeri*, Kurzia trichoclados*, K. sylvatica, K. pauciflora, Riccardia latifrons, Calypogeia sphagnicola and 11 taxa of Sphagnum, including S. recurvum var. tenue*. The steep eroded silty banks of the Afon Teifi that flows through the bog had Fissidens curnovii, Pohlia annotina, P. camptotrachela, Fossombronia wondraczekii and Atrichum tenellum*. Some people seemed unimpressed by the latter, but this was the first Welsh record.

6 August. Sunday was left open as a free day. Most participants moved north in a group, stopping first to examine the dunes and slacks of Ynyslas NNR. Despite the existence of several interesting old records from this site, little of interest was found during the present visit. Rhynchostegium megapolitanum was the most notable species found. The group moved on to Esgairgeiliog one mile south of Corris (V.C. 47) where Rod Stern demonstrated a colony of Fissidens polyphyllus by a roadside streamlet. Further up the Afon Dulas at Aberllefenni (V.C. 47 and 48), Isothecium holtii, Bazzania trilobata, Plagiochila spinulosa and Tritomaria exsectiformis* (new to V.C. 47) were found in a sessile oakwood.

A very small contingent spent the day in Cwm Einion, searching the streamsides and fragments of sessile oakwood. Isothecium holtii, Polytrichum alpinum, Bazzania trilobata, Jubula hutchinsiae, Lejeunea patens and Plagiochila spinulosa were recorded. Lepidozia pearsonii and Scapania umbrosa (on wood) were restricted to a small area on the south bank of the river, probably the same place referred to in previous records. Plagiochila atlantica was recorded on the north bank earlier this summer, but the small colony could not be refound, though doubtless still present

Back at our base, the group was charmed to hear of the quaint local custom forbidding the public sale of alcohol on a Sunday (sadly discontinued as recently as November 1989). Luckily Peter Goodman was kind enough to sign us into the staff bar.

7 August. The north side of Cadair ldris (V.C. 48) was visited, primarily to examine the base-rich slopes near Llyn y Gafr. Species recorded included Anastrepta orcadensis, Bazzania tricrenata, Grimmia torquata, Herbertus aduncus subsp. hutchinsiae, Encalypta ciliata, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Funaria obtusa, Hygrobiella laxifolia, Jungermannia sphaerocarpa, Leiocolea bantriensis, Lejeunea patens, Lophozia sudetica, Marsupella sprucei, Plagiobryum zieri, Preissia quadrata, Pohlia cruda, Porella arboris-vitae and Scapania scandica. The perfect walking weather tempted some people to the summit, and Marsupella stableri was found above Llyn y Gadair.

8 August. Several sites were on offer for today, but people were attracted to the small bay at Cwmtudu near Newquay by the promise of swimming. In practice, only 3 people swam, while the remainder recorded Schistidium maritimum on seashore rocks, and Cephaloziella hampeana, Amblystegium fluviatile and Bartramia pomiformis on the roadside and streamside nearby. In the afternoon the wooded lowland valley of the Afon Arth was visited. Plagiochila killarniensis* and Marchesinia mackaii grew on a slightly basic outcrop, on wet rocks by the stream Jubula hutchinsiae, Jungermannia pumila, Amblystegium fluviatile, A. tenax, Cinclidotus fontinaloides, Porella pinnata and confusingly robust Fissidens pusillus were recorded. Basic flushes were marked by Cratoneuron commutatum and Pellia endiviifolia. Fissidens celticus was locally abundant on the banks of small side streams, and tubers were later found on material from this site by Theo Arts. Metzgeria fruticulosa* was collected on elder.

During the week various people confirmed the continued presence of Coscinodon cribrosus on shale outcrops on Constitution Hill in Aberystwyth, after some discussion about species of Grimmia.

Cardiganshire lacks the variety of geology and altitude to make it really exciting bryologically, and I was both disappointed and relieved that BBS expertise did not manage to shower me with too many rarities that I had overlooked. Many people contributed to what I hope was a successful meeting. The local help of Peter Goodman and John Savage was much appreciated. Members of the Nature Conservancy Council, particularly John Davies, gave invaluable help, and the owners of the sites we visited willingly gave permission for access. Participants bravely ate the Hall food with the minimum of complaint.

Alan Orange