Frank Dobson Commemorative Field Meet, Hampton Park, 20th August

The day started at Myrtle’s Courtyard, where we were greeted by the owner and given a short history of the estate. Following an explanation of the ecology of the area, groups, led by experienced lichenologists, explored the park to identify and record the lichens in the varied habitats to be found there.

Andy Cross led fifteen members to Puttenham Common. This lies about a quarter of a mile away from Hampton Park, across the valley where a stream had been dammed in previous centuries producing a series of lakes. The party stopped to examine the lichens on a waterside oak and alder, then climbed the slope through birch woodland up to the grass and heather of the open summit. The young oaks near the top, which had probably never suffered the acidification of the veteran oaks in the parkland, had a particularly luxuriant cover including Usnea subfloridana and U. esperantiana. A curious feature on the grassy top was a pock-marking of little pits in the sand, about 2m across by half a metre deep. Cladonia chlorophaea s.s. was common on the edge of these craters. It is clear from old maps and aerial photos, much of the woodland on this side of the valley results from the cessation of grazing in the middle of the twentieth century. There are plans to re-introduce grazing, with Andy Cross on the team working up the project.

All parties reconvened at Myrtle’s Court at 3.00pm for tea, cake, a chat and a browse of the books and posters offered for sale.

A big thank you to Andy Cross for organising the day, to Fay for organising the cake and to all the other members and experts who came and shared their knowledge, and to the Hampton Estate for letting us explore.