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Visit to the De Ramsey Estates by the British Bryological Society

The woodland and one of the reservoirs were surveyed by eleven bryologists. This was the first visit to the De Ramsey Estates by the BBS, although there had been prior visits by individuals, mainly in 1955. A total of 22 species had been recorded previously and it was expected that, given the quality of this ancient woodland, many more would be added. In fact, 20 of the previous records were refound and these were supplemented by 43 additional taxa, bringing the total to 65.

The main woodland straddles the parishes of Upwood & the Raveleys and Abbotts Ripton. Wennington Wood is in the latter parish and is the greater area. The eastern part of the main woodland is Raveley Wood. To the south of these lies the separate Holland Wood. This appears to have a slightly different substrate (less gravel in the clay) and, consequently, a slightly different bryophyte flora. To the south of Holland wood are two reservoirs. The survey included sample areas from all of the woodland and one of the reservoirs. A species list is given in Table 1, indicating those found in each of the four areas on the day.

The most significant find was Cirriphyllum crassinervium in a ditch at the edge of Raveley Wood (Figure 1). This species has only been recorded in Huntingdonshire from the Kimbolton in 1928. It was thought that this had been lost to the county, but clearly it is thriving well in this woodland.


Figure 1 Cirriphyllum crassinervium downloaded from http://www.cisfbr.org.uk

The first moss to catch our eye in Raveley Wood was a large population of Platygyrium repens extending up the trunk of an Ash tree. We were to find this species in all the areas, including a copiously fruiting population on a decorticated branch in Wennington Wood (Figure 2). This was only the fourth record of fruiting in the UK, the others being in Monks Wood and two sites in Wales. Platygyrium repens appears to be a successful early coloniser of this woodland, getting established before Hypnum cupressiforme starts to creep up the bole and extending above head height.


Figure 2 Platygyrium repens in fruit. Downloaded from http://ohiomosslichen.org/OMLA_WEBSITE/

Other good finds from Raveley Wood were:

Fruiting Fissidens incurvus, present in ditch banks throughout the woodland
Orthotrichum lyellii, a small patch of which was found on Ash

·     Plagiothecium curvifolium on Oak

Wennington Wood added several more species, some being found later in Holland Wood. These included:

·        Fruiting Brachytheciastrum velutinum on Ash

·        Brachythecium rivulare on a ditch bank, also found in Holland Wood

·        Cratoneuron filicinum, found on a grassy track and later on a track around the reservoir

·        The liverwort Metzgeria violacea, found on a very large Hazel

·        Orthotrichum pulchellum, found in fruit on Field Maple and later found in Holland Wood on a dead Spindle

As noted above, Holland Wood had a somewhat different flora to Wennington and Raveley Woods. This was particularly true of the ditch banks. Some of the interesting species, not mentioned above, were:

·        Anomodon viticulosus, found at the base on an Ash.

·        Bryum moravicum on Ash

·        Fissidens bryoides var. bryoides, found on a ditch bank in fruit and with bud-like male branches

·        Oxyrrhynchium pumilum, found on a track

·        A male population of the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha subsp. ruderalis, found on a ditch bank

·        The liverwort Pellia endiviifolia, also found on a ditch bank

After emerging from the woodland we walked around one of the two reservoirs, Brachythecium mildeanum was found on the track. Homalothecium lutescens was frequent around the reservoir and there was a patch of Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus on a bank. This appeared somewhat out of place, normally being a woodland species, but demonstrated that it is a good colonising species.

All in all, it was a successful visit with a good number of ancient woodland specialists.