MUD-COVERED MOSS HUNTERS : WORCESTERSHIRE'S INFORMAL MOSS
During the past year increasing numbers, now well over twenty, have joined in Saturday visits to many parts of Worcestershire to learn about mosses and liverworts. Although we usually seem to have good weather, it has sometimes been remarkably muddy. We find the days really enjoyable, even though we look a little unusual with our wellingtons and over-trousers -a motley group of all ages, as we scramble up rocks or down into valleys, often bending down to the ground or reaching up into the branches of trees, hand lenses to the fore.
With the help of Lorna Fraser, the original group is gradually improving in ability to identify the bryophytes. We have recently been joined by some more experienced people coming from as far afield as Abingdon and Northamptonshire. We have compiled lists of species for all the sites we have visited and new species continue to turn up for VC37 (see mark Lawley's article) - Harry Green made the most significant find with the red data book liverwort Sphaerocarpos texanus in an old rhubarb field. When Lorna has been unable to join us, we have sometimes had the invaluable help of Mark. Some of us have also joined his more ambitious group, the Border Bryologists, on outings in the border counties. Their most recent outing was to The Gullet area of Castlemorton Common, where a new species for VC37 was another liverwort, Microlejeunea ulicina.
There have been two indoor microscopical days in the past year and we spent some time working on the bryophytes of two of the fields at Lower Smite Farm. Our most recent outdoor meetings have been to Hornhill and Trench Woods, to Ragged Stone at the southern end of the Malverns and to Broadway Hill.
A small splinter group has been making recce visits to additional sites as preparation for the 2004 Spring Meeting of the British Bryological Society which will be based in Malvern. Our visits have included two private woodlands, Death's Dingle and Wissetts Wood with their tufa streams, Sapey Brook - an area known as Paradise to the 19th century Worcestershire naturalists - and Witchery Hole.
We have also nearly completed the computerisation of the old BRC records of mosses and will soon be tackling the liverworts.
Anyone is welcome to join us on future meetings - for details, please telephone me on 01527 873135.
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