Monday, 11 May 2015

‘New’ Southbya tophacea location

Both myself and Hannah have been scouring the cliffs of the Glamorgan coast now for the past two months identifying tufaceous seepgaes and the Maidenhair fern.. all with the aim of finding more Southbya or perhaps something else interesting. Julian Woodman was kind enough to take me to the well known locality at Aberthaw and now hopefully I can report on another ‘new’ locality.

I had a good look in the historical notes for Southbya and it was reported in Porthkerry in 1949-50 (Cardiff Nats) but no accurate grid references were provided.  Georges blog dated 18thJan 2015 (titled Porthkerry) provides more details of his trip along the Bull Cliff. So armed with this knowledge I suspected that the Cold Knap to Rhoose section was a good bet.  

As luck would have it we located the area that was mentioned in the Cardiff Nats…it is west of the Porthkerry park just a short hop along the coast. In total we recorded nearly 30 individual stands of Southbya….far more than I had seen at the Aberthaw section.

In total there were three separate sections all within one larger more general area (I wont put up 10 Fig NGRs just in case the blog goes public - but I will send all to whoever it is that wants them).

  • Location 1 was on a dangerous cliff face, a little scrabble up a grassy bank and two stands 5cm large were identified, part sheltered by some grass. I wouldn’t recommend getting too close to this cliff face.

  • Location 2 was direct on a cliff face near a small fault where recent rock fall suggested I shouldn’t hang around too long. There were 7 stands of Southbya in a 2m area.

  • Location 3 – by far the largest was on a very accessible cliff face. We counted at least 20 stands of Southbya all at head height along a 8m or so section of tufa covered cliff.

Interestingly Locations 2 and 3 were on very exposed cliff face with no other vegetation providing shelter – like at Aberthaw.

I hope this is a good record for Southbya and if someone could tell me where I should register the full details (SEWBREC/ George T/ NRW ???etc etc)  that would be great. 

Porthkerry- Southbya location 1. If you squnit you can see me on the small grassy material to the left of the image 
Porthkerry Southbya Location 2. (apologies for poor photo)

Porthkerry Location 3 (where we recorded 20 individual stands)

Porthkerry Location 3


  1. This is really exciting news, Gareth. Hannah emailed me last week to say you'd seen Southbya at a known site, but a new site is really excellent. To be honest, I don't know much about its distribution in Glamorgan. It is a very rare species in Britain and was on the UKBAP list at one stage. Ironically it was my discovery of two new populations in Pembs that led to it being dropped, as it was no longer "declining" at the 10km square level. Actually, both those Pembs colonies are small and vulnerable, one disappearing under Cotoneaster. One Anglesey site (Aberffraw) is still OK but the other (Newborough) has been lost to dune stabilisation, and the Flintshire colony was last seen decades ago and its marl pit may no longer be suitable. I'm not sure how the Cornish populations are getting on - I need to check Rare Bryophytes of England. A review of this species' status in Wales in Field Bryology would be worthwhile in light of your work on the Glamorgan coast: something to bear in mind in the next year or so.

    Please send Barry and George full details, CCed to my @NRW address.

    Well done again!

  2. Hi Sam, to my novice eyes there was 'loads; of Southbya at Porthkerry so fingers crossed for this site. More than happy to write a short review of its status but may need to check up other locations or get a co author with some more know how than me. On another note should have some good stuff from our moss squeezing antics to you soon, has been combined with Sweedish data - just waiting for Jon G to come back in from the field !

  3. Well done Gareth. Detective work combined with single-minded persistence - can't be faulted.

  4. That's great news - I might never have got around to checking that section. Your diligence has paid off!

    I suppose there's the potential for more new sites between Rhoose and Aberthaw?


  5. George, yes there is potential.. I will have finished in a month or two so ill let you know where I havent found Soutbya as this will be just as important as where I have I would guess.

  6. That is a fantastic result. Really good to know the species is established at a number of sites and with the data you've been gathering should provide a fascinating insight into the species' requirements.

  7. Can I add my congratulations and ignore my e-mail as have now seen your images here and the location shots.