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Local Meetings of the BBS

Cambridge Group

We are now involved in A new survey of the bryophytes of Cambridgeshire (v.c. 29).


List of meetings 2006/7

Saturday 14 October: Nene Washes, Guyhirn, TF30SE. We had a successful visit to the west end of the Nene Washes in 2003 and now plan to visit the eastern end of these winter-flooded pastures, under the leadership of Jonathan Graham. Park by the houses on the east side of the A141 south of the Guyhirn roundabout, TF 398028.

Sunday 29 October: Cheveley and Ashley, TL66SE, 76SW. Meet at Cheveley church, TL 684608.After looking around Cheveley we will go on to the two disused churches in 76SW, a square we have not yet visited.

Saturday 11 November: Countryside Restoration Trust, Barton, TL45NW. The Trust was founded by Robin Page and aims to manage farmland for wildlife. It owns 120 ha of arable land at Comberton and Barton, and we plan to record the bryophytes on some of this land. Winter-stubbles should be of particular interest as spring-sown crops are grown in many fields. John Terry has kindly agreed to show us round. Meet at Bird’s Farm on the west side of Haslingfield Road immediately south of the A603, TL 407550.

Sunday 26 November: Little Abington churchand Pampisford Hall, TL54NW. We have already got a good list for this 5-km square, but it does not include many species (especially those of chalk soils) recorded on previous visits to Pampisford Hall. Meet at Little Abington church, TL 529492. We have permission to go on to the grounds of the Hall (via the back entrance).

Saturday 9 December: Barrington Cement Works, TL35SE. This large site is one of the few working chalk quarries in the county, and we have no records of its current bryophyte flora. Cemex have kindly agreed to show us round the site. Be prepared to wear a hard hat. Various items of clothing are listed as unacceptable (e.g. sandals, court shoes, rigger boots, flowing skirts and shorts), as is hair in side bunches, but normal bryological attire will be fine. Meet at the works north of Barrington, TL 397504at 9.30 am(note the early start for this meeting). Cars can be parked at the rear of the main office block. After leaving the quarry we will move on to Middle Moor, Whittlesford, an area of woodland over pingos from which we have no bryophyte records. If you would like to join us for the afternoon only, contact one of the leaders to make the necessary arrangements.

Sunday 7 January: Fenland N. and W. of Thorney, TF20NE, NW, SW. We have not yet visited any of these Fenland squares, although a large area of 20NE is in v.c. 29. We will start at Catwater Farm, TF 246041. The apparent access to the Farm along the track from the north is blocked off; we will therefore approach from the south via Causeway Toll Farm, TF247035, and either park there or, if we can arrange for the gate on the track to be left open, go straight on to Catwater Farm.

Saturday 20 January: Guilden Morden and Litlington Pits, TL24SE & 34SW. Guilden Morden Pit is a disused chalk pit; the surrounding land has been taken out of arable cultivation. We will go on to Litlington Pit, and other sites in Bassingbourn, including Wellhead Springs. Meet in Ashwell on the byway which leads east from Station Road at TL 276399 towards Ashridge Farm (there is a Caravan Club sign at the start of this track). Park on the grass about 300 yards up the lane.

Sunday 4 February: Snailwell church and Chippenham Park, TL66NW, NE. Meet at Snailwell church, TL 642675. We will then go on to Chippenham Park, by kind permission of the owners.

Saturday 17 February: Eversden Wood, TL35SW. Peter Reynolds has kindly obtained permission for us to visit this ancient wood, which has a complex history and is subdivided by many woodbanks. Meet on the Old Wimpole Road south-west of the wood about 100 m east of New Farm, TL 338526, parking on the roadside. Peter says that thefts from cars have been known here, so don’t leave valuables in your vehicle.

Sunday 4 March: Gray’s Moor Pit, Coldham, TF40SW, and orchards south of Wisbech, TF40NE. We will first visit Gray’s Moor Pit, which had a good pioneer flora in the 1950s which it then lost; it will be interesting to see what species now grow in the scrub. Robin Stevenson will then take us to some orchards near Wisbech to continue recording in this habitat, in which he has found some remarkable species in recent years. Meet at Gray’s Moor Pit, TF 413007.

Saturday 17 March: Swaffham Prior, TL56SE and Anglesey Abbey, TL56SW. Meet at Swaffham Prior churchyard, TL 568638. This churchyard is unique (at least in Cambridgeshire) in having two large churches in the one churchyard; one of them is in ruins. Anglesey Abbey is a National Trust property so members should bring their membership cards.


List of meetings 2005/6

Saturday 15 October: Wicken Fen, TL56NE. Owen Mountford has kindly agreed to show us round an area S of Wicken Lode which we haven’t visited before. New reed beds, borrow pits and scrapes have been created here in recent years and Ricciocarpos natans was seen this summer. National Trust members should bring their membership cards but non-members will not have to pay. Meet at the car park, TL 564705.

Sunday 30 October: Soham, TL57 SE. This is an exploration of Fenland villages and agricultural land. Meet at Soham church TL 593731. We will go on to the nearby 5-km squares TL57 NE & 67 NW if time allows.

Saturday 12 November: Little Wilbraham, TL55 NW. Meet at Little Wilbraham church, TL 545586. We will go on to Little Wilbraham Fen and Quy Water.

Sunday 27 November: Whittlesey brick pits, TL29 NW, NE. Phil Parker, Hanson’s environmental consultant, has kindly agreed to show us round a range of recently disturbed sites in this massive brickworks complex. The site is of great natural history interest, and has recently been described in an article in British Wildlife, but it is bryologically unknown. Meet at the Sales Office and nature reserve car park: if approaching on A605 from Peterborough cross the level crossing, ignore the first turning to brick works and several gateways until you get to a conifer hedge at right angles to the road and the Sales Office is immediately after this, at TL 249973.

Saturday 10 December: Cambourne ,TL35NW. Louise Bacon will guide us round this new settlement. We hope to visit existing semi-natural habitat incorporated into the town, and to see whether bryophytes have started to colonise the newly built-up areas. Meet in the Oaks Wood car park just beyond the primary school. Leave the A428 at the Cambourne junction (TL 317602) and head for Morrisons supermarket. At the end of this road is a T-junction with Morrisons on the left. Turn right here, past the primary school, and as you see a lake appear on the left, the car-park (with yellow 2.1 m height barrier) is on the right (on a slight left-bend).

Sunday 15 January: Sandy, Bedfordshire (a rare venture outside Cambridgeshire!). Alan Outen has suggested that we look at land recently added to the RSPB reserve at The Lodge. This is on greensand and we should see some calcifuge bryophytes which we rarely find in our area. Meet at the car park at The Lodge, TL 191484 (we will combine into as few cars as possible and go straight on to Sandy Heath Quarry).

Saturday 28 January: Devil’s Ditch , TL66SW, 65NW. This ancient earthwork has the richest assemblage of chalk grassland bryophytes in the county. We aim to complete our survey of the site by looking at the stretch S of the A1304 on this visit. Meet in the car park on the N side of the A1304 at TL 618614 (leave the A1303 at 613612 just W of the roundabout).

Sunday 12 February: Orchards near Wisbech, TF41 SW. Robin Stevenson has recently started a survey of local orchards, and found several uncommon bryophytes by detailed, tree-by-tree recording. On this meeting we will collect further data for this survey under his guidance. Rendezvous at Wisbech St Mary church, TF419081.

Sunday 12 March: Balsam, TL55 SE & Borley Wood, 54 NE. Meet at Balsham church, TL 587508. Grimmia lisae was recently collected here (don’t overcollect it!) but we haven’t got a complete list for the churchyard. We will then visit Borley Wood, by kind permission from Forest Enterprise; this wood is said to be more acidic than most Cambs woodland. Note that because of a late change of programme to accommodate the BBS meeting in Italy this is the second successive meeting on a Sunday.

Saturday 25 March: Out & Plunder Wood SSSI, TL65 SE. Although not much of this 5-km square is in Cambridgeshire, our part contains much ancient woodland. We have permission to visit these oxlip woods on boulder-clay. Meet at Widgham Green, TL 658552.


List of meetings in 2004/5

Sunday 17 October: Longstowe,TL35NW. The square contains parkland and ancient woodland. Meet at the church, TL 310554.

Sunday 31 October: March, TL49NE & 59NW. Meet at the church in Christchurch , TL 493964,for the exploration of these fenland squares. Leader: Robin Stevenson.

Saturday 13 November: Six Mile Bottom, TL55NE. This square is on the chalk at the edge of Cambridgeshire’s ‘studland’. Meet at the church, TL 580567.

Sunday 28 November: Whittlesford, TL44NE. This meeting will visit a farm where CEH colleagues carry out research on agricultural biodiversity; habitats include streamside woodland, arable field margins on chalk and clay and pingos. The vascular plant arable weeds are known to be interesting, and include Lythrum hyssopifolia. Meet at Whittlesford church, TL 473485; we will go on to the farm after recording the churchyard.

Saturday 11 December: Magog Down and Wandlebury ,TL45SE. We visited the chalky fields of Magog Down in 1991when it had just been converted to grassland from arable; we have been asked to investigate changes since then. We will then move on to the wooded chalk earthworks at Wandlebury. Meet in the public car park at Magog Down, TL 486532.

Sunday 9 January: Benwick, TL29SE & 39SW. We traditionally start the year in deepest Fenland. Meet at Birch Tree Farm, TL 329935. This should be reached by taking the road SE along the S side of Whittlesey Dike from Angle Corner Bridge then turning SSW at 339938 (Drove labelled Jones & Jones, Birchtree Farm) along the track to Garton House, then turning NW along Jones’s Drove to the Farm. Colleagues at Monks Wood live here and are we have permission to park there and look at the farm buildings.

Saturday 22 January: Melbourn,TL34SE. An exploration of this 5-km square, which offers varied habitats by the R. Mel and on the adjacent chalk uplands. Meet at Melbourn church, TL 382448.

Sunday 6 February: Hardwick , TL35NE. Meet at Hardwick church, TL 372586. We hope to obtain permission to go on to visit Hardwick Wood, an ancient wood which has been well recorded in the past but not visited since 2000.

Saturday 19 February: Devil’s Ditch , TL66SW. We have recorded the northern and southern sections of this ancient earthwork in recent years but not the central stretch, which has the richest assemblage of chalk grassland bryophytes in the county. Meet in the car park on the N side of the A1304 at TL 618614 (leave the A1303 at 613612 just W of the roundabout).

[26-27 February: BBS Taxonomic Workshop, Cambridge . This workshop will cover the Amblystegiaceae under the guidance of Dr Lars Hedenas, an international authority on these difficult pluerocarps. Anyone interested in attending should consult CDP.]

Sunday 13 March: Kirtling ,TL75SW, NW. Although only a small proportion of these squares are in Cambridgeshire, they include an oxlip wood from which some interesting bryophytes have been recorded. Meet at the start of the track to Banstead’s Farm, TL 697550.

Saturday 2 April: Tadlow, TL24NE & Croydon, TL34NW. These squares are on boulder clay on the thinly populated western edge of the county; they include two woods listed on the NCC Ancient Woodland inventory but bryologically almost unknown. Meet at Tadlow church, TL 280476.

List of meetings in 2003/4

Sunday 12 October: Nene Washes, TL39NW, TF30SW. Meet by the church at Coates, TL 305978. We will move on to the Nene Washes, which are well-known for their wetland birds but unknown bryologically. Leader: Jonathan Graham.

[Sunday 19 October: BBS meeting in Kent, to record bryophytes in arable fields in the Isle of Grain for the Society’s Survey of the Bryophytes of Arable Land (SBAL). Anyone interested in attending should contact Mark Hill.]

Saturday 25 October: Weston Colville, TL65SW. Meet at the church in Weston Colville, TL 616513. We will go on to the Wildlife Trust reserve of Lower Wood, an ancient boulder-clay wood.

[Saturday 8 November: MOH and CDP are giving a half-day course on bryophytes at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, concentrating on their biology and ecology rather than on identification. For further details, contact the Education Office at the Botanic Garden, 01223 331875.]

Sunday 9 November: Wimpole Hall, TL35SW. A survey of this National Trust estate, which has a good bryophyte flora. Follow signs to the N.T. car park at approx. TL 338509. Leader: Simon Damant.

Saturday 22 November: Leverington & Wisbech St Mary, TF40NW, 41SW. A meeting to record these Fenland squares, which including a tetrad randomly selected for inclusion in the BBS arable survey. Meet at the church at Leverington, TF444114.

Sunday 7 December: Barrington and Shepreth, TL34NE. A survey of this square, which includes riverside habitats and the Wildlife Trust reserve at Shepreth L-Moor. Meet at the church in Barrington, TL 396499.

Saturday 17 January: Witchford and Stuntney, TL47NE, 57NW. Another pair of Fenland squares, including the final randomly selected BBS SBAL tetrad. Meet at the church at Witchford, TL503787.

Sunday 1 February: Croxton Park, TL25NE, NW. Meet at the church in Croxton Park, TL 252592. A number of uncommon species were found here on our only previous visit to the Park, in 1985. Leader: Simon Damant.

Saturday 14 February: Shudy Camps, TL64SW. Meet at the church at Shudy Camps, TL 620444. The south-eastern parts are as close to ‘ancient countryside’ as we get, and usually produce a good species list.

Sunday 29 February: Gamlingay Wood, TL25SW. This is a well-known wood, which has been studied by ecologists since 1911 (see Nature in Cambridgeshire 34: 3-15, 1991). It has a good bryophyte flora, and there are records of calcifuge ephemerals on the rides. Several compartments have been ‘deconiferised’ since 1999 and it will be interesting to look at these. Take the track which leaves the B1040 at TL239538 and park near the wood.

Saturday 13 March: Fen Drayton, TL36NW. Meet at the southerly church in Fen Drayton, TL 339681. We will go on to nearby gravel pits.

Sunday 28 March: Hildersham and the Abingtons, TL54NW. This square should offer a range of habitats. Meet at Hildersham church, TL 545488.

[1-7 April: BBS Spring Meeting, Worcestershire. The main BBS meeting of the year. There are daily field excursions, and all bryologists are welcome to attend, whether or not they are members of the Society. For details contact Tessa Carrick, Nuthatch, Moors Farm, Lakeside Court, Upton Warren, Bromsgrove, B61 7EY.]

Saturday 17 April: Chippenham Fen, TL66NW, NE. We will finish the season at this National Nature Reserve, one of the richest sites in the county. We visited it in February 2001, but there is still plenty of ground to cover. Meet at the entrance to the Fen, TL651691.

List of meetings in 2001

Saturday 13 January: TL44NE. Meet at Hinxton Parish church (TL497.451) whence we can explore at least 5 other churchyards. There is woodland at Sawston Hall which we may be able to visit, plus riverside footpaths etc.

Sunday 28 January: TL36SE. Madingley Hall. Meet in the car park, TL 392604.

Saturday 10 February: TL66NW & NE. Chippenham Fen NNR. Meet at the entrance to the reserve, TL652690.

Sunday 18 February: A joint meeting with the East Anglian group. Thetford Heath. Meet at TL849795. This is entrance to Gorse Industrial Estate. Park on edge of wide road, quiet at weekends. This meeting starts at 10.30 am.

Saturday 3 March: TF30NW. An almost totally featureless area of fenland. Meet at the W. end of Wallace’s Drove, off the B1167 at TF315054. If interest palls, we will move on to the (very) slightly more alluring terrain in 30NE.

Sunday 18 March: TL56 NE & SE. Devil’s Ditch. Meet at the N. end of the Ditch in Reach, TL567661, to work the northern part of this ancient earthwork.

Saturday 7 April: TL45NE. Cherry Hinton. The Wildlife Trust has asked us to survey the East Pit, and in particular to see if Lophozia perssonii survives there. Meet at the entrance, TL 484559.


List of meetings in 2000

Sunday 29 October: TL25SE. We hope to get permission to visit Buff Wood and Hatley Park. Meet in Hatley St George at the N. end of the bridleway alongside Buff Wood, at TL 282509.

Saturday 11 November: TL36SW. Overhall Grove and Grange Farm. Overhall Grove is a Wildlife Trust reserve, Grange Farm has recently been bought by RSPB. Meet at Knapwell church (parking by lane west of the church, TL 335629).

Sunday 26 November: TL48NE. Welches Dam and Manea. Meet at the car park at Welches Dam RSPB reserve, TL 471861.

Saturday 9 December: TL44NW (extending to 44SW). Fowlmere RSPB reserve. Meet at the car park, TL 408458.



A new survey of the bryophytes of Cambridgeshire (v.c. 29)

C.D. Preston and M.O. Hill

One of the characteristic features of many bryophyte species is their mobility. Many grow in disturbed or transient habitats, reproducing by spores or tiny vegetative propagules which are easily transported from site to site. These spread rapidly to colonise newly available habitats. Other species are ‘stress tolerators’, living in nutrient-poor or otherwise unproductive habitats where vascular plant growth is limited. These species are often less mobile, and threatened by disturbance and eutrophication in the modern countryside. This combination of mobile opportunists and declining specialists means that the bryophyte flora of S.E. England is constantly changing.

In Cambridgeshire we are in a particularly good position to detect and document the changing bryophyte flora. Detailed records collated by the late Dr Harold Whitehouse cover the last 50 years, giving us a base-line against which we can measure change. In January 2000 the county’s bryologists started a new survey which aims to record and map the contemporary bryophyte flora, and assess the extent of recent changes. How widespread are the epiphytes which have taken advantage of reduced levels of SO2 pollution to colonise the county in the last 20 years? Do species of short chalk grassland such as Entodon concinnus still survive in Cambs.? Are the large and conspicuous mosses and liverworts such as Anomodon viticulosus, Plagiochila asplenioides and Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus really in decline, as many of us suspect? What has been the effect of agricultural intensification in recent decades on the bryophyte flora of arable fields?

To achieve a fairly even balance of recording, we aim to cover all 5 x 5 km squares in v.c. 29. Within these squares, we aim to collect records separately from as many specific sites as possible (e.g. distinct churchyards, woods, chalk pits, nature reserves, villages) although an element of "square-bashing" will be needed to pick up species in the wider countryside. V.c. 29 covers 134 5x5 km squares, of which 103 contain at least 5km2 of land in the v.c. and the remaining 31 are marginal fragments. We would like to cover these in the next 10 years, but to do this we will need help from as many bryologists as possible! Recording excursions will be organised approximately fortnightly during the winter months. All are welcome to attend these excursions, which provide a good way of learning mosses. However, it is unlikely that these excursions alone will provide a sufficiently thorough coverage. We hope that individuals will also ‘adopt’ a 5 x 5km square each year, moving onto another the following winter. Because we are starting the survey from 1 January 2000 there’s scope for beginners to make a valuable contribution, as we need records of large, easily identified species as well as the difficult ones. We’d also welcome help from other naturalists: if you know a potentially interesting area that needs surveying, let us know.

If you are interested in coming on the winter excursions, or helping with recording in other ways, please contact Mark Hill or Chris Preston at CEH Monks Wood, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambs. PE28 2LS (tel. 01487 773381, e-mails and

This was initially published in Nature in Cambridgeshire no. 42, p. 96 (2000).

Copyright © British Bryological Society .