South-East England Lichen Group Programme Spring 2017

Picture of Ramalina fastigiata
Ramalina fastigiata

Following on from our very successful programme of lichen field meetings held last year we have decided to organise a further four meetings this spring. Joining our trio of distinguished field lichenologists is David Hawksworth who has agreed to lead a meeting in Surrey.

The meetings will start at 10.30am and finish around 3-3.30pm. Participation is open to all and entirely at your own risk. Please remember that churchyards can be dangerous places – unstable gravestones and rather large holes in the ground being two of the potential hazards. Please bring suitable clothing, lunch and a hand lens. All meetings will be suitable for all levels of expertise from absolute beginners through to specialists. If you wish to purchase a field guide to lichens then the best book is undoubtedly Frank Dobson’s Lichens: An illustrated guide to the British and Irish Species, 6th ed. (2011). He has also authored a Field Studies Council fold-out chart called Guide to common churchyard lichens.

Many thanks to Tim Rayner for organising these meetings; if you are interested in attending, please get in touch with Brad Scott.

Our leaders are widely acclaimed as four of the most accomplished field lichenologists in the region:

Ishpi Blatchley has been studying lichens for about thirty years and has developed a great interest in recording churchyard lichens as these places provide a variety of different substrates and niches for lichens in a relatively small and defined space. As a member of the British Lichen Society’s Churchyard sub-committee she has recently been involved in recording lichens in churchyards across London for the Heritage Lottery Funded London Churchyard Ecology Project.

Simon Davey is the recorder for lichens for Sussex and the author of the Lichens of Jersey, published in 2015. He has been an independent ecological consultant since 1988, where he has specialised in lichen surveys for many years. For several years he was the Field Secretary for the British Lichen Society and he has led and arranged visits looking at lichens in many and various parts of the country and the world. His enthusiasm for lichens is infectious and he delights in opening people’s eyes to how enjoyable this group of organisms can be.

David Hawksworth CBE is a lichenologist with over 50 years experience, and a former Senior Editor of The Lichenologist, has served as President of the British Lichen Society, and been awarded the Acharius Medal of the International Association for Lichenology. He has worked extensively in the UK and overseas, and recently retired from a research professorship in Madrid. He publishes extensively on the taxonomy and nomenclature of lichen and other fungi, and is known for his work on air pollutant effects on lichens. He has tutored Field Studies Council lichen courses from the 1960s, including several at the Juniper Hall FSC centre in Mickleham. Based in Surrey from 2007, he is involved in local survey work, and has honorary positions at the Natural History Museum London and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

Keith Palmer is an amateur lichenologist who has studied lichens for over thirty years. He is lichen recorder for Kent and has led numerous field meetings for the Kent Field Club, the British Lichen Society (on the committee of which he has served) and the Field Studies Council, as well as contributing reports including those commissioned by Dungeness Nuclear Power Station and by Sutton-at-Hone Churchyard plus annual reports of the lichens in Kent. In the 1980s and 1990s he surveyed over one thousand churchyards and cemeteries nationwide and so has considerable experience of what may be found in such locations.

Saturday 25th March 2017

All Saints Church, Herstmonceux. Leader: Keith Palmer.

Herstmonceux Churchyard in East Sussex (TQ643102) is situated a couple of miles from its village centre right at the edge of the Pevensey Levels. The Levels are largely used for the grazing of sheep and cattle but potentially there may be some impact on the lichens in the churchyard from agricultural chemicals. Unlike Rusper in West Sussex which we visited in November last year where a sharp decline in the number of species from the mid-1990s was noted, Keith has only visited Herstmonceux on one previous occasion, in August 1988 when he recorded a modest total of just over 40 fairly routine species. However Ramalina fastigiata was noted then growing on a tree, at a time before the great explosion of records of this lichen. There is therefore scope for recording a much greater diversity of species, given the improvement in knowledge during the intervening years. The church walls, boundary wall and gravestones should all harbour some noteworthy species while there is likely to be some corticolous interest too.

Park along Church Road. BN27 1RN.

Saturday 8th April 2017

St Michael and All Angels Church, Mickleham. Leader: David Hawksworth.

This church largely dates from Norman times, has a 12th century tower, but was extensively modified in Victorian times. It is also famed for wooden grave-boards. In the 1970s it held the record as the UK’s richest churchyard lichen species (mainly through repeated visits by the late Peter W James). There are now records of some 190 taxa (including ones on bark and wood), but only 105 were found in a visit by Keith Palmer and colleagues in 1993. A list of the reported species will be provided. The church authorities are keen to have a modern assessment made.

Park on the B2209 opposite the church (TQ17055338, RH5 6DU) where there is also a pub for lunch, not by the lych gate. If the road is congested there is space at the Juniper Hall FSC centre southwards on the same road.

Sunday 23rd April 2017

Parham Park. Leader: Simon Davey.

Parham Park is an ancient mediaeval deer park and almost certainly the best example in Sussex, as well as SE England. The oaks and a single ancient ash are hugely rich in lichens, and some very rare species occur. These include Caloplaca ferruginea which occurs on one large oak tree, Caloplaca flovorubescens, occurring on an amazing old ash. It was thought to have been extinct in England until it was found on this tree. This ash also supports Caloplaca ulcerosa and Caloplaca phlogina as well as Bacidia incompta. Wood fencing supports Sphinctrina anglica, a lichenicolous fungus growing on Protoparmelia eleagina in what may be its only known current site. Not only is Parham Park important for rare lichens, it also contains trees that support a rich lichen flora with large numbers of the NIEC ancient woodland lichen species.

The main entrance on the A283 Pulborough-Storrington road (RH20 4HR). The car park is on level, well-drained grass 100–150 metres from the house.

Saturday 29th April 2017

St Mary’s Church, Lamberhurst. Leader Ishpi Blatchley. (Joint meeting with the Kent Field Club).

This large Grade 1 listed church is made of sandstone and sits on a ridge of the same stone east of the village. The village lies in the valley of the River Teise, a tributary of the R Medway, and as it is liable to flood, the position of the church offers it protection from flooding. The churchyard is large with a great number of memorials although there is little limestone. It has a good lichen list, some of which are uncommon in Kent. However, I don’t think there has been a survey there since the mid 1990s when about 90 species were recorded. Can we get to the 100 mark or will the intervening years have reduced the biodiversity?

Park along the road leading to the church. TQ682367, TN3 8DU.