Anses Wood, New Forest, Hampshire, Sunday, 31st March 2015

A joint meeting with the BBS Southern Group. Planned to cover Anses Wood, Dockens Water and Rakes Brakes Bottom, New Forest, In 1km square SU2212. John Norton lead a BBS Southern Group in the north of the Forest to which Wessex Lichen Group members were welcomed to join. I was recording lichens as well as looking at the bryophytes, although the latter took priority.

We met at Cadman's Pool car park, SU229121. Wellingtons had been recommended as we were heading for some at some boggy areas. The aim of the meeting was to explore an under-recorded area for bryophytes, which encompasses most of the typical New Forest habitats including semi-natural woodland, base-rich mire and a potentially interesting stream. Attending were Andrew Branson, Sara Cadbury, Clive Chatters, Sharon Pilkington and Jenny, with Neil Sanderson recording the lichens and John Norton recording the bryophytes.

The first thing I did was check on an old Oak by the car park, on which Francis Rose found Sticta limbata many decades ago; a species which has declined drastically in the south of England due to air pollution. This lichen was still present in 1996, but I had failed to find it in the late 2000’s; leaving only one other extant site in the New Forest, a transplant in Buckets Wood. Much to my delight I refound a nice healthy patch of Sticta limbata; brilliant!

Waymark AW01 (SU22906 12257): Sticta limbata Nb (IR), also on the tree: Agonimia octospora NT (NS/IR), Lecanora jamesii, Lecanora alboflavida Nb (IR), Thelotrema lepadinum, Loxospora elatina, Anisomeridium ranunculosporum, Cliostomum flavidulum Nb (NS), Schismatomma niveum Nb (IR), Opegrapha multipuncta, Porina hibernica NT (NS/IR/S41), Schismatomma decolorans, Lecanactis abietina and Flavoparmelia caperata.

Sticta limbata on Oak tree

By the route out of the car park was an old Beech SU2290 1225 supporting a rich Mesic Bark Pertusarietum amarae community with what looked very like Pertusaria pustulata VU (NR). In Pertusaria pustulata the fertile wart has only a single pore, which is irregular and torn looking, so clearly not Pertusaria pertusa. The wort is also not as open as Pertusaria hymenea but is more robust and open than Pertusaria leioplaca. A neat field test is that the thallus is K + yellow and C + yellow, a combination not seen with any of the look alikes. Under the microscope the asci have only two spores each and this, combined with the spores sizes and the ornamentation on the spore wall, is definitive. The Anses Wood lichen checked out as Pertusaria pustulata, with two spores per asci, spores 95 – 108 x 30 – 33µm , and with the distinctive cell wall ornamentation. This was new to the wood and the north east of the New Forest; another good find.

Pertusaria pustulata on old Beech

I then went into concentrated recording mode; after all it would not do for the bryologists to record more species. We went down the edge of the wood for a short distance, good for edge and twig species, and then into the old growth Oak - Holly pasture woodland. Here I found (waymark AW02 SU22794 12333) Schismatomma quercicola Nb (IR), parasitised by Arthonia invadens NT (NR/IR/S41) along with a reasonable number of old woodland species. By now the bryologists were moving more quickly, but I caught up with them at an open strip where there had been a dispersal runway from the nearby WWII airfield. By now I had recorded 50 species of lichens and associated fungi.

The runway added a couple of heathland lichens but was more interesting for bryophytes. Below thus open area was an old wet glade in the pasture woodland, with patches of infilling Sallow, along with old stunted trees in the glade, including standing dead wood. There was rich old Beech – Oak – holly wood adjacent. The Oak dead wood, was the most productive habitat in the glade, producing lots of Cladonia species, including Cladonia parasitica, on damp wood and species such as the dead wood specialists Chaenotheca brunneola and Imshaugia aleurites on drier standing dead wood. This area added 23 new species taking the list up to 73 taxa.

The runway & the wet glade

After the wet glade, we went back into the lower part of Anses Wood with more old Oak – Beech – Holly wood, including some rich Oaks and Holies. On an old Oak at Waymark AW03 (SU22829 12501) with base rich bark had Porina rosei NT (NS/IR), Porina hibernica NT (NS/IR/S41) and Cliostomum flavidulum Nb (NS). While a nearby Holly added Mycoporum lacteum NT (NS/IR). There were six new species here, taking the list up to 79 taxa.

Emerging from Anses Wood we were in a large Bracken and acid grassland glade between the wood and the riverine woodland (SU227 125). This had scattered Oaks and Crab apples which added seven new lichen species, mainly twig species. The floodplain woodland along the Dockens Water (SU227 126), is young growth woodland but includes frequent Ash, which is absent in the more acidic old woods on the slope above. One Ash supported a large fertile colony of Parmelia saxatilis, along with three new lichen species. After recording some Ash trees I got distracted by bryophytes, as we had reached a major target of the visit; a base rich spring fed mire on the floodplain, but with the regionally scarce moss Philonotis fontana locally dominant. This moss is normally found in more acid situations but here was accompanied by the typical fen brown moss species Campylium stellatum, Scorpidium cossonii, Scorpidium revolvens and Plagiomnium elatum. The first three are regionally scarce or rare off the Forest, but still frequent within it, while the latter is regionally rare. After lunch, the fen moss Climacium dendroides was also recorded in the mire. The declining vascular pant Oenanthe fistulosa, was frequent in the mire; like the Philonotis fontana, this is a species in an unusual habitat. The peculiarity of this base rich mire was probably due to it being on a floodplain, the flood water introducing more nutrients than are normally found in New Forest base rich flushes.

These sections produced nine new lichen species giving a running total of 88 taxa.

Below Anses Wood and the base rich mire by the Dockens Water

We had lunch on the north slope by a Crab Apple in acid grassland and Bracken (SU226 127), with Hyperphyscia adglutinata a new species for the day on the Apple. Moving down river, I noted the uncommon vascular plant Montia fontana ssp amporitana (SU2279 1274) in a damp area in wet grassland, and there was a Wood Lark singing over the acid grassland. Down in the riverine woodland (SU225125), the trees were still producing new lichen species, with some older Oaks being particularly productive, with the old woodland species Arthonia vinosa, Scoliciosporum pruinosum and Micarea pycnidiophora Nb (NS), the latter also being found on Holly. A little of the pollution sensitive Usnea florida NT (S41), was also found on an Oak twig. We then crossed back over to the north side of the valley to work along the edge of the large valley bog at Rakes Break Bottom for the bryophytes. the heathland here was not rich in lichens, but Cladonia portentosa was added to the day’s list. A mild base enriched seepage (M14) with the moss Campylium stellatum, supported a small colony of the bog form of the Early Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp pulchella. Total of 14 new species were added here, taking the list up to 102 taxa.

The lunch site and Rakes Break Bottom

At Waymark AW04a (SU22263 12542 ±3m) a patch of Pine trees had been fairly recently felled at the edge of the bog, to restore open heathland habitat. The surface of these stumps was surprisingly nutrient enriched and added several new common nutrient demanding lichens to the list along with some Cladonia species.

An odd collection was made from the pine lignum here, which looked like a Lecanora aitema/ Lecidea hypopta type lichen with dark black to black reddish apothecia 025 – 0.55mm diameter. However, once opened up, the apothecia astonishingly had Caloplaca type spores. These were 11 – 14 x 6 – 8µm, the septa 4 – 5µm across, occasionally to 7µm, the paraphysis sparingly branched, with swollen tips, coloured brown and 5µm across, the exciple grey black and thin; the epithecium brown; the asci 30 x 11µm, K/I + blue, teloschistes type. This was a bit of a mystery but seemed closest to Caloplaca pollinii, a species only ever recorded twice from Britain in the 19th century, once on timber in Yorkshire and once on fir in Scotland. The match was not perfect, the apothecia lacked any red pruina and had no K + purple reactions. The specimen was sent to the Caloplaca expert in Czechia, Jan Vondrak, who was sure it was not Caloplaca pollinii s. str., but was something very interesting; so presumably a new species!

Back down at the river at Waypoint AW04b (SU22168 12431 ±5m), old Sallow scrub along the river produced what looked very like the fine green squamules of Bacidia squamellosa. This was confirmed by there being a cortex on the squamules, along with the algae being up to 10um diameter, so not Micarea prasina s. lat., which can look similar. This was another good record; a western species never previously recorded form the lowlands! Beginning to head back to the car park, the boundary bank of Holly Hatch Inclosure produced the fungus Mniaecia jungermanniae parasitising the liverwort Diplophyllum albicans on the soil and the lichen Micarea melaena on an old fence post.

A further 12 new species had been added to the list in this area, bringing the running total to 114 taxa.

Caloplaca cf pollinii

Climbing back up the slope to the car park, I diverted into old pasture woodland on the western edge of Anses Wood, which looked really good, and finally totally lost contact with the bryologists. A quick trawl through woodland that clearly demanded much more attention, produced Arthonia astroidestera NT (NS/IR) on a couple of old Hollies (Waypoints AW05, SU22393 12364 & AW06 SU22449 12362), along with Cresponea premnea and Porina leptalea and, on Beech, Thalopsis rubella. A dead Oak added Calicium glaucellum and Lecanora compallens Nb (NS). Higher up, back out of the main woodland, I attempted to relocate the bryologists, but failed but found a row of three ancient hollow Hollies on an old curving boundary bank in bracken, possibly the remains of a medieval coppice bank. These Hollies supported the most massive colonies of Bacidia incompta VU (NS/S41) I have ever seen on the New Forest inside their hollow trunks. On this final triumphant note I finished recording, having added eight species in the last section bringing the grand total to 122 taxa for the day.

The old Hollies with Bacidia incompta VU (NS/S41)

I finally caught up with the bryologists in the car park. The species lists for the day for bryophytes and lichens are given here. To see the route taken click on the text below.

The bryologists got 101 species, while I recorded 122 taxa (121 species). The two lists make an interesting comparison; while the bryophyte list contained many regional rarities, it had no species with national conservation status. The lichen list in contrast, included one undescribed species, appearing closely related to an species extinct in Britain, one species new to the lowlands, two Vulnerable Red Data Book species, seven Near Threatened species and 13 Notable species. Four species were also Section 41 species. The habitats of interest for both groups were also quite a contrast. The bryophyte list does contain many species of high conservation interest, most of which found in wetland habitats, both the base rich fen and in the valley bogs. The woodlands were not without interest, however, the oceanic liverwort species Frullania fragilifolia, a rare species in the lowlands, was found as an epiphyte in the old woods. In contrast the lichens, were overwhelmingly epiphytes and most of the species of interest were associated with the old growth woodlands but with a few exceptions found in the younger woods and in the heathland along the Dockens Water.

Finally the day reinforced past observations that lichenologists and bryologists move through the landscape in very different ways and speeds!

To see the route taken click on the text below.