Looking for Bryophyte Stars


The area around Herstmonceux Observatory, castle and church just south of the village has been well surveyed, the castle and grounds by Tom in 2013 and a BBS Spring meeting in 2014 and the churchyard by Brad in 2017. Some good finds were made including Grimmia trichophylla on a castle wall. A few tetrads in the area have few or no records compared to the 83 taxa recorded in TQ61K and it looked as if it might be possible to do a circular walk from the village which would take in four unrecorded tetrads.

I got off to a good start, nabbing the last space in the free car park and noting common urban bryophytes on Bagham Lane. There was some Bryum rubens on a gravel drive but records dried up once I passed the village. A footpath branched off over a field descending to a wooded stream and as the gate was open I assumed the resident bull was in another field, very well behaved, or wandering around the village. The hedge was lined with Musk Mallow and a Giant Puffball in the grass was past its edible best. The thickest part of the wood was fenced off but a trio of large Ash trees had a smattering of epiphytes. A concrete culvert was covered in fruiting Amblystegium serpens with Platyhypnidium riparioides nearer the water. There was some Cololejeunea minutissima on Willow in a swamp heavily trampled by cattle and I could smell Lophocolea bidentata as I stepped on half buried rotting logs. F777C2ED-D43B-4423-8940-D1A8253A26B6

Back on the main footpath there was nothing to record until I got to the end of Bagham Lane where the hedgebank was dotted with patches of Atrichum undulatum and Dicranella heteromalla growing on the sandy soil. There was Weissia too but no capsules at this time of year.

The footpath led across another field sloping down to damp woodland but this time the field was full of cows with their young, (called Calvesfield Shaw so I should have guessed), and I decided not to carry on with a skittish dog in tow.

Back at the car park I found another footpath which took me across another field down to another cow trampled ditch. There was Pohlia melanodon on the steep sides of the ditch and more Bryum rubens. Further on dead wood was striped with Campyopus introflexus along the split trunk.

I joined a shaded section Chilsham Lane where Plagiomnium undulatum, Eurhynchium striatum and Thamnobryum alopecurum covered the steep lane bank near Hunters Hill. A short section of tree root was covered in Isothecium alopecuroides. 6d15c58c-2a0e-4b12-9bbd-f6928385cb98.jpeg

Seeking out another promising route I was foiled again, this time by horses, no visible path and a lack of signposting through the farm so I retraced my steps again and managed to get further into the cow trampled ditch finding Cephalozia bicuspidata and Calypogeia arguta on the drier banks and Pellia epiphylla and Leptodictyum riparium by the stream.

Back in the village I added Marchantia polymorpha subsp. ruderalis and Didymodon rigidulus from a brick driveway on Fairfield.

I was surprised to find that I had got to 42 different bryophytes, none of them very exciting, on this rather uninspiring trip. I had stayed within one tetrad so at least TQ61G can now turn green.

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