Monday, 23 April 2018

Llandogo Ravine


The rocky cascades of Cleddon Shoots/Llandogo Ravine near Tintern in the Wye Valley hold a remarkable array of bryophytes, including several that are disjunct from main populations further NW in Wales.  I haven't yet relocated the Platyhypnidium lusitanicum that was recorded there by Warburg in 1954, and it's possible that the water is now too base-rich for it, but most of the other notable species seen by previous generations of BBS members are still present, including Jungermannia paroica, Lejeunea patens, Plagiochila spinulosa, Fissidens rivularis and plenty of Jubula hutchinsiae.  I visited the site on Sunday with Bea & Johnny and photographed some Jubula, as well as taking some habitat shots for a putative VC35 Bryophyte Flora (in prep. in perpetuity?).  A couple of previously unrecorded species caught my eye in passing: a small patch of Plagiothecium latebricola on a huge log was the first VC35 record since 1995 and only the 6th ever, and some Oxystegus tenuirostris adjacent to a cascade was notable (although I've seen it in a couple of other Wye Valley woods).  This is a really special SSSI, and it was useful for me to see the clear link between cascades and the distribution of the Jubula.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Distichium inclinatum

As I was driving home on the A470 this afternoon I remembered the population of Distichium inclinatum which Barry found in a cutting near the road in 2015. I pulled off at the Gethin Woodland Park roundabout for a look and there it was - easy to find on the flushed coal spoil, and fruiting nicely (albeit somewhat sparsely).

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Trostre sidings

Snippets of interest from wet woodland near the railway sidings at Trostre included a little Ulota calvescens on the willows plus Calliergon cordifolium with capsules mounted upon impressively long setae, the latter a first for me of this normally barren species. However, at the same site, a crude estimate of 500+ emerging Twayblades in a 50m x 50m area stole the show.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Bwlch-y-clawdd (SS9494)

We intended to square bash in SS99N (RCT) only to find that the A4061 above Cwmparc was closed for roadworks - the suggested diversion would have taken ages. We decided to have a look at a small north-facing, sandstone outcrop just off the road and below Mynydd Ton (SS942946).

The scree below the outcrop is populated with large amounts of Racomitrium lanuginosum,  R. fasciculare and Stereocaulon vesuvianum but there are some nice patches of Huperzia selago here too. Much of the Andreaea on the slabs is A. rothii ssp falcata, but there is also a small amount of A.  rupestris.

Huperzia selago and Stereocaulon vesuvianum

Also of interest below the main outcrop is the frequent occurrence of Barbilophozia floerkii and lots of Lophozia ventricosa. We searched for L. sudetica but failed to find any convincing material.

Barbilophozia floerkii

With optimism we climbed up to the outcrop, but the best we could find was a small patch of Hymenophyllum wilsonii, which is frequently present on north-facing sandstone in RCT (and never disappoints). Other stuff included Heterocladium heteropterum, Pohlia nutans and Racomitrium aquaticum. All in all it is a typical, if not spectacular, collection of upland species on a relatively small outcrop which is quite near to a very busy road. You might expect Oreoweisia bruntonii and Bartramia here too, but if they are there they escaped us.
Tony Smith (in A Bryophyte Flora of Glamorgan) describes the Rhondda sandstone outcrops as mostly east-facing and relatively species-poor. I don't know to what extent that has deterred people from exploring these cliffs, but it might explain why species like B. floerkii have been regarded as rare in Glamorgan. In my experience even the small outcrops are worth a look.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

D'Arcy Didymodon diversity

A 30-40 minute stop to check out a patch of 'wasteground' by D'Arcy Business Centre yesterday revealed a rich diversity of Didymodon spp., those recorded being fallax, ferrugineus, luridus, tophaceus, umbrosus (below, photos 1 & 2) plus what might be icmadophilus, which will be the first time I've seen it away from the Gorseinon area if confirmed. There was also some Pellia endiviifolia which was fruiting in patches denser than I recall seeing before (photo 3) and a little Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginescens. No Funaria was seen! Vascular plant interest was provided by a strong colony of 300+ seedlings of what could be Filago vulgaris (photos 5 & 6), though needs checking in Poland and/or by growing on my specimen - unless anyone knows this species at this age?

Funaria hygrometrica in Glamorgan

Couldn't resist doing the same analysis for our Glamorgan data set, which is suitable for the last seven years only. Very interesting topic and as I suggested on your Twitter post, I wonder how much habitat survey bias might effect the frequency of recording. We probably examine a lot more brown field sites in Glamorgan than you do in Pembs, Carms & Mons (as we have a lot more of them!), a habitat in which the species seems to do well, as shown by my Felindre photo below, where Fun.hyg. was dominant in some areas. This might help explain the difference between our plots and I suspect an analysis of specific habitats might be more revealing?

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Is Funaria hygrometrica declining?

I knocked up this plot to examine what percentage of my bryophyte records from VC35 each year were Funaria hygrometrica.  I'm sure that my recording habitats have changed a bit since 2000, but then and now I was tetrad-bashing, so visited 'grot' habitats as well as nice places, and recorded all that I saw rather than just noting rarities.  I was obviously inactive here in 2009-2015, but have corrected for variation in recording effort by looking at percentage of records per year rather than actual number of Funaria records.  Since 2016, when VC35 recording really kicked back in, my sightings of Funaria are extremely low.  Certainly the trend appears to be downwards.

This moss was considered commonplace when I started bryophyte recording in the 1990s, and grew on tracks and pavements, in plant pots and occasionally in natural habitats, as well as the traditional 'fire sites'.  Three of my four sightings this year have been in rather 'natural' places - 2 forestry tracks and a mountain path - with one on a road verge.  God forbid, but could this be another victim of N pollution?  It used to grow where there was a bit of enrichment, for example by a bonfire, but perhaps most of our environment is so N-enriched that Funaria is no longer able to prosper.

Perhaps I'm making a big fuss about nothing, but this question has been in the back of my mind for a while and there really does seem to have been a change.