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Regrettably I have not been able to put together an advance programme of meetings this winter, but as before, meetings will be arranged 2-3 weeks in advance and details sent to members of the group via e-mail. Due to the unpredictability of the weather, some meetings may be cancelled at short notice by e-mail. Please contact me (John Norton) if you want to come to a meeting or be added to the group mailing list.
All meetings start at 10.30 a.m. unless otherwise stated and most take place on Sundays. Wellington boots (as well as rainproofs, food, drink, etc.) are advisable for most meetings but stout walking boots may be preferable for those on dry or hilly ground.
If you are coming along to a meeting for the first time, please read the BBS health and safety information here.
Saturday or Sunday 3rd/4th March 2018. Ephemeral liverworts and acid grassland habitats, Hollands Wood and Balmer Lawn, Brockenhurst, New Forest. Leader: John Norton. Due to the unpredictable weather, the date will not be decided until a few days before, so please contact me if you wish to come along. Meet at the car park opposite the Balmer Lawn Hotel, SU303031 (turn left off the A337 approaching Brockenhurst, signposted Beaulieu B3055; the car park is 60m on the right). This meeting will be an opportunity to look at a recently discovered large population of Riccia crystallina, a Mediterranean liverwort which may be on the increase in the UK, and associated Sphaerocarpos spp. We will also take a general look at a variety of dry to damp acidic grassland and wet heathy grassland habitats, which here support species such as Calliergonella lindbergii, Lophocolea bispinosa and Solenostoma gracillimum, with perhaps the possibility of finding some more uncommon liverworts. Wellingtons and waterproof trousers or kneeling mats recommended.
Sunday 18th March 2018. Heathland and valley mire, Castle Bottom NNR, Yateley, Hants. Leaders: John Norton and Tony Davis. Meet at the eastern end of Blackbushe Airport car park, SU809587, off the A30 between Hartley Wintney and Blackwater (no charge for using this). Wellingtons will probably be essential. This is a Hampshire County Council site which contains one of the few remaining and most important valley mire systems in the north of the county. Unfortunately, due to the way that bryophyte records were entered in the past there are no localised records for the site in the BBS database, but data from Francis Rose’s notebook project shows he visited the site in 1986, 1994 and 1998. He recorded 34 species including 10 Sphagna and the uncommon bog liverworts Mylia anomala and Calypogeia sphagnicola. There is also an intriguing record for the rare Kurzia sylvatica, though a voucher was presumably not submitted and this taxon has never been confirmed for VC12. Rose also recorded Tetraplodon mnioides at nearby Yateley Common in December 1986, the only Hampshire record of this mostly northern and western dung specialist. This might just still be present in the area and could potentially occur at Castle Bottom.
Sunday 28 January 2018. The Mens nature reserve, West Sussex. Joint meeting with BBS South-east Group. This Sussex Wildlife Trust woodland reserve has had over 120 bryophyte species recorded in it from the 1970s to 1990s, but has not been recorded since. On the day we only managed to explore a relatively small part of the site, but did see a reasonable number of species. We didn't manage to refind any of the rarer species such as the liverworts Nardia scalaris, Ptilidium pulcherrimum and Trichocolea tomentella, but did record Chiloscyphus pallescens, Ctenidium molluscum, possible Lophocolea semiteres, Norwellia curvifolia, Othotrichum stramineum, and Rhytidiadelphus loreus.
Sunday 12th November. Whiteley Pastures, Hampshire. This Forestry Commission woodland is part of the Botley Wood complex, one of the best woodlands in Hampshire for vascular plants and proving to be quite rich in bryophytes, but has been little explored. Five of us followed a rhomboid-shaped route to cover the western part of the site, centred around grid reference SU534102. Much of the site is moderately acidic oakwood, which has been planted historically with conifers and beech, though many of the conifers have now been removed (or are currently being felled). Our route also took in a small stream running inside the western boundary and a larger one on the north-east side, which supported some adjacent base rich ground with numerous Ash trees. Along the stream banks we found one small inaccessible patch of Epipterygium tozeri and a few patches of Leskea polycarpa, with locally frequent Plagiochila asplenioides. Also on the banks and frequent on the Ash trees was Homalia trichomanoides. We walked over a more strongly acidic part of the woodland, eventually finding some Rhytidiadelphus loreus and a nice liverwort community at the base of a tree comprising gemmiferous Scapania nemorea with Lepidozia reptans, Calypogeia fissa and C. arguta. Another highlight was finding Ulota crispula on a fallen oak branch (though this species seems to be at least as common as U. crispa s.s.). We also added quite a few common species of concrete and road verges at the start and end of the visit, to produce a final total of 71 taxa (17 liverworts and 54 mosses). The route map and species list can be downloaded here (Excel spreadsheet).
Sunday 29th October. Wilverley Walk, New Forest, Hampshire. This was a joint meeting with the Wessex Bryology Group, led by Sharon Pilkington. Twelve of us met at the Wootton Bridge car park at SZ250997 and enjoyed a walk in pleasantly mild and occasionally sunny weather. We explored Sphagnum-rich valley mire and wet woodland habitats eastwards from Wootton Bridge for about 600m, but only had time to briefly look at the most interesting mineral-rich areas at the eastern end of the route, finding Sphagnum teres, S. subsecundum, Sarmentypnum exannulatum and Campylium stellatum here and also Scorpidium scorpioides before we reached this point. Another good find was Sphagnum angustifolium. The wet woodland follows a substantial stream running adjacent to the northern boundary of Broadley Inclosure. Highlights along here included Entosthodon obtusus, Riccardia palmata (2nd New Forest/Hampshire site), frequent patches of Lejeunea lamacerina and abundant Sciuro-hypnum plumosum, in addition to plentiful Ctenidium molluscum and Hookeria lucens. Bryologically, this could be one of the best stretches of riverine woodland in Hampshire.
In all we found 15 Sphagnums and identified 121 bryophyte taxa (including a few
weeds on stonework of the bridge). Seven species were new to the 10km square (SZ29). The route map and provisional species list can be downloaded here (Excel spreadsheet).