Participants: Anne Allen, Lesley Balfe, Ishpi Blatchly, Randolph Kricke, Simon Davey, Frank Dobson, Margaret Earle, Jeremy Gray, Barbara Hilton, Robert Hodgson, Penny Hodgson, Peter James, Manfred Jensen, Simone Louwhoff, Bridget Ozanne, Don Palmer, Ivan Pedley, Sheila Reid, Mark Seaward, Vanessa Seaward, Will Stevens, Delia Stevens, Heinrich Walther, Amanda Waterfield
This year the annual field excursion of the BLS (British Lichen Society) took place on Jersey, one of the Channel Islands located off the north coast of France. There were 24 participants in all, mainly members of the British Lichen Society. These lichenologists came from all parts of the British Isles, including Scotland (Sheila Reid). Although some of the participants study lichens as part of their job, most of them are amateurs and do lichenology as a very nice hobby! Apart from the English participants three German lichenologists took part in the field meeting: Heinrich Walther, Manfred Jensen and Randolph Kricke. So all in all we were a very mixed group with all the same spirit: "hunting" for lichens…
The Channel Islands, consisting of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and a few smaller islets, belong to the UK but not to Britain itself and they are self-governed and have their own currency (which resembles the British Pound but is unfortunately not accepted in Britain…). Namely Jersey is a paradise for financial business, hence the density of banks in relation to the land area or number of inhabitants is rather large. As a result living standards are quite high as are living costs, splitting the citizens into very wealthy and quite "normal" people. Jersey does not boast any political parties, unlike most European countries, but different governmental or independent departments and organizations can all send a member for election. Jersey does not hold a membership in the EC but has certain trade contracts with Brussels.
Despite the relatively complex political and socio-economical situation, physically the island can be fairly easily discovered. We had two minibuses at our disposal, sponsored by the Société Jersiaise, which is the Jersey society for Natural History, having a small but beautiful museum, library and herbarium in St. Hellier, the capital of Jersey.
Simon Davey, our expert guide for the week, and Ivan Pedley drove the vans providing us with the opportunity to visit a lot of different sites on the island, mainly the east, south and west coast. The north coast is reputedly very picturesque but due to steep cliffs relatively inaccessible so, unfortunately, we did not visit this part of the island.
The first day on Jersey we visited a rather old churchyard in the western part of the island. St. Brelade`s churchyard has acid gravestones such as red granite as well as calcareous substrate (limestone etc.). Apart from the gravestones the surrounding walls as well as trees (cheery trees, Tilia and oaks) offer good substrata for lichens. The cemetery is within close proximity of the coast, hence some maritime species such as Roccella phycopsis and R. fuciformis and Caloplaca maritima could be found, especially on the walls of the small church. Apart from these specialised forms other foliose lichens and crusts were abundant e.g., Buellia subdisciformis, Ramalina lacera, Rimelia reticulata, Clauzadea monticola, Lecanora rupicola, L. campestris, L. polytropa, L. gangaleoides, Tephromela atra, Sarcogyne simplex etc.
Not far from the cemetery there are some granite outcrops visible between the gorse (Ulex europaeus), supporting a very nice colony of Umbilicaria grisea. Apart from that Punctelia borreri and Physcia tribacia were observed. At the shoreline near the main beach of St. Brelade typical coastal lichens like Hypotrachyna britannica, Anaptychia runcinata, Neofuscelia pulla and several others were detected.
A very cold and windy day had us sheltering from the weather part of the day, but we did manage to see Xanthoparmelia tinctina at Corbiere Point, growing on "La Table des Marthes" (a large granite boulder) as well as covering large areas of an asphalt walking track. It was estimated by one of our members that Jersey supports more than 90% of the population of Xanthoparmelia tinctina on the British Isles, where it is considered a rare species.
In the afternoon the weather had deteriorated further but nevertheless, being the dedicated bunch that we were, we set off for the dune system at Les Quennevais. Here we saw several species of Peltigera, including P. canina sensu strictu, as well as several species of Cladonia, including C. convoluta, all typical for this habitat. Simon did promise us that it was likely that we would come across some new records here but I am afraid that the bitterly cold wind sent some of us back to the bus rather quicker than expected.
Unfortunately this day the weather was, once again, really nasty: windy and raining cats and dogs. We tried to visit an interesting site with poplar trees but ceased this after a short while as everybody had the feeling that they were looking at lichens while having a shower - also there are only so many umbrellas that fit safely around one tree. Nevertheless, Physcia aipolia, Physconia distorta among Flavoparmelia caperata and Parmelia saxatilis could be observed under these aquatic conditions. Due to the bad weather Simon decided we should visit the Société Jersiaise. Of special interest for the German participants was a herbarium book edited by a German in the second part of the 19th century. Very nice to see which species could be found at that time in Germany…
At the Société Jersiaise we were given permission to use their conference room and had access to microscopes. After a short break and a slide show by Simon we went out again to Gorey and looked for lichens at Mont Orgueil Castle. Unfortunately as soon as we left the minibuses the rain started again and although very rich, most lichens could hardly be determined due to a thin film of water covering the thalli. Nevertheless, Diploschistes caesioplumbeus, Rhizocarpon richardii and other crusts could be observed. Afterwards we moved on in the direction of St. Catherine stopping at a granite rock wall where Usnea flammea, Parmotrema crinitum, Porpidia platycarpoides etc. could be found.
In the evening we visited the Société Jersiaise again and this time we enjoyed the company of members of the society among them Mike Pinel, the chairman of the botanical section and Mike Freeman, an ecologist working for the government of Jersey. We all had a wonderful evening talking with members of the Société Jersiaise and learned a lot about the general natural history of the island.
The poplar trees that had given such a promising glimpse the previous day in the rain did indeed support this first impression in the bright sunshine of today, with a very rich and diverse lichen flora. Nearly every tree had a different composition of species - the most impressive one showed up a dense cover of Physcia tribacioides. Beside a fruiting Candelaria concolor, Physcia aipolia, Physconia distorta, Arthonia impolita, A. zwackii and Parmelia saxatilis could now be admired in their full glory. On neighbouring trees Hyperphyscia adglutinata, Lecanora chlarotera, Lecidella elaeochroma as well as Ramalina lacera, R. farinacea and R. fastigiata were found.
The group then split with some of us visitinga Dolmen near Grobey while the others re-visited the castle from the previous day. Apart from Diploschistes caesioplumbaeus (now visible in dry conditions) Sarcogyne simplex, Rhizocarpon richardii and various other lichens were found. Very astonishing was a record by Simon made on a cherry tree near the castle, which Peter identified as Rinodina isidioides, a species typical for ancient woodland and new for Jersey! So, a very interesting observation!
After a short drive we arrived at St. Catherine`s wood, a very nice forest dominated by a river which caused some flooding due to the heavy rain in the past days, hence we had sometimes difficulties in keeping our way. But nevertheless the wood has a rather rich lichen flora with different Pertusaria and Opegrapha species on the trunks as well as Usnea rubicunda, U. subfloridana and U. cornuta. In a small area with willows Sticta limbata, S. sylvatica, Normandinea pulchella as well as Heterodermia obscurata could be found. Nearby an old wall offered a good habitat for several crustose lichens, among them Enterographa crassa, E. elaborata as well as Porina chlorotica and Lecania hutchinsia.
Later that afternoon we were treated to a Vin d’Honour at the Société Jersiaise where the president of the society, Philip Le Brocq, expressed his joy at being able to officially welcome members of the British Lichen Society on Jersey, particularly as the last field visit by the BLS was in 1966.
This morning we visited rocks at the end of St. Ouen`s Bay (Le Rondil de Poulec) where we saw typical maritime lichen communities. In addition we found Pertusaria pseudocorallina, Protoparmelia montagnei, Dermatocarpon miniatum etc. Unfortunately the rain made it not very pleasant to rest here, although the lichens were really beautiful! We were lucky enough to spot Lecanora orosthea and Parmelina tiliacea as well as Lecanora muralis, being parasitised by an Aspicilia and by a fungus.
During lunchtime the weather improved and we spent the afternoon (with sun !) along La Corbière Walk, a disused railway track, lined with poplars. Apart from the very common Ramalinas (farinacea, fastigiata and lacera) and Usnea cornuta, several interesting and new records were found, namely Opegrapha varia agg., O. atra, O. multipunctata, O. corticola, Physcia semipinnata, Gyalecta spec., Rinodina roboris, Bacidia rubella, Cliostomum griffithii, Chrysothrix flavovirens, Arthonia spadicea etc. This area supported a very rich lichen flora and Peter James was very busy answering all the "what is this??"-questions…
On our way back to the hotel we stopped at St. Aubin taking a look at the house where Charles Larbalestier (1838-1911) lived, the first lichenologist to study the lichen flora of Jersey. Nearby on a wooden fender in the harbour, Diploschistes scruposus and Lecanora saligna were found.
The last day we spent again in the bay near St. Catherine’s breakwater. Apart from the now well known lichens such as Parmotrema crinitum, Usnea flammea, Porpidia tuberculosa and P. platycarpioides we found a Pertusaria, possibly P. excludens due to its K+ yellow turning red reaction. We also visited the shoreline of St. Catherine, which supported quite a rich lichen flora. In addition to Verrucaria maura, the wide spread and typical coastal lichen, further characteristic species like Lichina confines and Xanthotia ectanoides were found. The spot offered a very good opportunity to study different Caloplaca species like C. marina, C. maritima and C. thallincola. In the supralitoral zone Dermatocarpon miniatum was abundant, as was Opegrapha caesareensis.
In the afternoon we visited the cliffs at Beauport Bay. Marvellous sunshine, great view to the beach of Beauport and St. Brelade`s Bay and a rich lichen flora made it hard to think that most of us had to leave the island the next day. The outcrops and cliffs offered a good opportunity to study diverse foliose lichen communities consisting of Neofuscelia verruculifera, Parmelia omphalodes, Punctelia subrudecta, Hypotrachyna britannica, H. revoluta etc.
All in all it was a successful field excursion with many interesting observations made. We think we speak on behalf of everyone when we say that a terrific and educational time was had by all. Many thanks to all participants for their enjoyable company, especially to Simon Davey and Ivan Pedley for driving and organisation, to Peter James for his great patience in answering all the "Which lichen is that?"-questions, and to Randolph (The Man With The Hat) for giving us a lovely picture show on the last evening. We all really enjoyed the week! Finally, many thanks are extended to the Société Jersiaise for the warm welcome we received, and for the minibuses that they had organised for us.
Randolph Kricke (Essen) and Simone Louwhoff (London)
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