Worcestershire Record No. 16 April 2004 pp. 46-47


Tessa Carrick

During the first week of April 2004 over sixty bryologists assembled in Worcestershire for their spring field meeting. Many of the best known specialists from the British Bryological Society were present so this was a wonderful opportunity to record the mosses and liverworts in the county more thoroughly. Just occasionally we strayed into Shropshire or Staffordshire. During the previous two years Mark Lawley, Ann Hill, Joy Ricketts, Harry Green, Rosemary Winnall, John Day, Lorna Fraser and I had visited many sites to give them a preliminary check and this had already yielded a good number of new VC37 records.

Our official programme included:

Wissetts Wood;
Baveney Brook (VC40), Skeys Wood (VC39), Park Brook and the Great Bog, Gladder Brook, Hitterhill Coppice, Lodge Hill Farm (for anthills), Knowles Coppice and the railway track, all in the Wyre Forest;
the Malverns and Castlemorton Common;
the north side of Bredon Hill;
Death’s Dingle, Mill and Fox Coppices;
the Larford Farm area,
and arable fields in the Holt Fleet area.

We hope that when the identifications are confirmed we shall have several new species or varieties and about a dozen re-finds (debracketings) of species not recorded since 1950. Among the week’s highlights were:

Platygyrium repens at Wissetts Wood - even Jean Paton, author of the great Liverwort Flora of the British Isles, had only seen this once before!
At least five species of Sphagnum in the Wyre Forest;
The luminous Schistostega pennata in rabbit Holes on British Camp – 89-year old Frank Lammiman declared, “That’s why I came;”
The rare virtually leafless but fruiting Buxbaumia aphylla, also on British Camp (first found by Joy Ricketts in 2002) – even the most erudite of our members was excited by this – few had seen it previously and many lay on their sides with their digital cameras to photograph it.
Grimmia laevigata
, Grimmia trichophylla and Pterogonium gracile on Hangman’s Hill;
Re-sighting of Hedwigia ciliata on the Worcestershire Beacon (first found by Lorna Fraser in 2001);
Rhodobryum roseum
, two species of Seligeria, Encalypta vulgaris, Entodon concinnus and the liverwort Scapania aspera on North Bredon (the highlights for Tom Blockeel who compiled the latest Check-List and Census Catalogue of British and Irish Bryophytes), and also impressively luxuriant growths of less rare Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus which caused Mark Hill (co-author of the three-volume Atlas of the Bryophytes of Britain and Ireland) to remark, “That’s as good as it gets”;
The red data book liverwort species Sphaerocarpos texanus in the rhubarb field at Holt (first spotted by Harry Green in 2003);
The luxuriant growth of bryophytes along the streams in Death’s Dingle and Foxholes Coppice, including swathe of Palustriella commutata and good Pohlia wahlenbergii;
And the many small acrocarps on the set-aside land at Larford.

Apart from the bryophytes, the week went very satisfactorily – there was a lovely buzz of discussion in the evenings. There were some who were not so experienced in the group and they learnt a great deal. It looks as if BBS will have recruited five new members. One passing individual who witnessed us peering into rabbit holes on the Malverns identified us as bryologists and has said he will join us on our local group outings. People enjoyed their visit to the county, appreciating it better as a result of Harry’s initial introductory talk. Enthusiastically, they fitted in recording at many more sites – arable fields, churchyards, Severn, Teme and Leigh river sites, the Knapp and Papermill, the Devil’s Spittleful, Rock Coppice, and so on. Everyone was impressed by Worcestershire’s mistletoe, enjoyed the spring flowers and blossom as they appeared during the week and those who stayed to the end witnessed a full Mute Swan mating display on a pool at Larford!. And we were not put off by the sharp April showers with their hail, or the mud – after all mosses and liverworts appreciate a little dampness!

For the local team it has been a stimulating and enjoyable experience to prepare for and organise the week. Now I have the small task of collating and submitting all the records and preparing the formal report!

The rare virtually leafless but fruiting Buxbaumia ophylla at British Camp A close-up
Looking at the luminous Schistostega pennata at British Camp Eminent bryologists along the Gladder brook
Sphaerocarpos growing on a rhubarb field near Holt Fleet Sphaerocarpos close-up
Mark Lawley and Justin Smith in Death's Dingle The BBS party rest for lunch on Bredon Hill summit


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