Sunday, 24 September 2017

some Grosmont finds

I haven't Blogged any bryophytes for ages I'm afraid, primarily because I didn't find much of interest over the summer despite fieldwork in N and Mid Wales.  Bea is now doing a drama class near Grosmont one day a week, and that gives me an hour or two in which to look for wildlife in the under-recorded hectad SO42, which is mostly in Herefordshire but includes 8 Monmouthshire tetrads.  Graig Syfyrddin, which rises to >400m, dominates the area and includes some Old Red Sandstone outcrops with species such as Seligeria recurvata and Tortula subulata, whilst the River Monnow meanders along the eastern edge.

First stop, last week, was a bend in the Monnow upstream of Kentchurch.  Old Red Sandstone outcrops held Plagiochila britannica, which is scarce on the county's sandstone, whilst steep soil associated with the outcrops (photo below) supported a tiny Fissidens that proved to be F. crispus (=F. limbatus).  The latter is the first county record for nearly 80 years, though I didn't photograph it in the field because it was getting dark.  Platygyrium repens was on a Crack Willow by the river.

Today's expedition aimed to cover part of SO42G, which includes a large conifer plantation between 100 and 300m altitude and a long section of the River Monnow, but no footpaths in either area.  I followed the only path, along the southern edge of the tetrad, and managed to rack up 48 species.  A return visit to roadside habitats should produce a few more, but it won't be possible to do the area justice unless I can pluck up courage to knock on some doors.  Anyway, the track to Upper Graig passed some arable land with Riccia glauca and Marchantia polymorpha ruderalis, some woodland edge with epiphytes, and then an old quarry where Grimmia trichophylla and Polytrichum piliferum were on sandstone.  Highlight came at the far end of my walk: a massive old Ash at SO42132232 held 50cm2 of Leucodon sciuroides

The distribution of Leucodon in VC35 is intriguing.  There are several populations on the Old Red Sandstone of Ysgyryd Fawr and the Black Mountains, a couple at Dingestow on Fraxinus and an Asbestos roof, two on sandstone roof tiles (Dingestow and Penrhos churchs) and one on Fraxinus in the Wye Valley.  I suspect it's overlooked on roofs, but it is clearly mighty rare here.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Brownfield slack surprise

On my way out to Witford yesterday it was spitting and looking very threatening, so I decided to make a pit stop in an area of the old BP works where I'd previously recorded the vascular plants several years back and have been meaning to return to check for bryos. The substrate is pure furnace slag that floods in the winter and consequently supports rather nice dune slack vegetation with elements of the NVC communities SD13-SD14.

The main bryos in the winter-wet areas were Drepanocladus aduncus and Hymenostylium recurvirostrum var. recurvirostrum, with locally frequent Calliergonella cuspidata, D. polygamus, Didymodon tophaceus, Cratoneuron filicinum, Bryum pseudotriquetrum & Fissidens adianthoides. I didn't have long, but in the area I walked over, I estimated the Hymenostylium colony extended to at least 1500m2 (centred at SS74069208) being frequent throughout. There are similar areas in this part of the site I didn't look at, so the colony could be even bigger. Hymenostylium is not something I was expecting in this situation, but I read in the atlas that it grows at mine sites in Cornwall, so perhaps isn't too much out of context. Unfortunately, there's an inevitability this area will be redeveloped at some point, such is the nature of brown field land. [I'm pretty busy at present, but I'll add some microscope pics and better macro shots when I get a chance]

In the evening, on the way back through the site, I rechecked the general area where I saw the Tortella inclinata last month and discovered it also forms an extensive colony, being locally dominant in an area at least 40m x 4m. The main part of the colony is on tarmac, where it grows as mono-specific stands (actually discernable on the Google aerials SS73189138). Here the colony appears to be spreading over the tarmac from the edges, presumably extending by trapping wind-blown sand and gritty slag. Off the tarmac, in adjacent areas of coarser gravelly slag, the species grows as clumps in a more diverse mosaic of short dune vegetation.

Other tarmac colonists with burgeoning populations thriving on these abandoned roads, noted whilst driving across the site yesterday, included Drepanocladus aduncus (photo 1 below) and Didymodon ferrugineus (photo 3 below). The Drepanocladus hosted a fungus, which I have a specimen of - I don't know if Charles is able to point me in the right direction, if so I'll try and key it out?

Thursday, 14 September 2017

More Splachnum

Karen Wilkinson's sharp eyes spotted a few tufts of moss on an old cow pat on Fairwood Common, Gower today (Grid ref SS 5705 9328). It looked good for Splachnum sphaericum in the field and also fits well with this species microscopically, having only very obscurely toothed leaf margins and relatively short cells near the leaf apex. I worry a little about the similarity to a young Bryum sp., but perhaps this is unlikely on dung.
Assuming the ID is correct this will be the 3rd Glamorgan record, all of which have been made within the last 3 years.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Splachnum season

It is Marsh Fritillary larval web survey season, which means it's also time for me to look out for Splachnum spp on dung in the wet acidic pastures I'm surveying.

I've not noticed any on the Gower Commons over the last couple of weeks, but struck lucky today with a small patch of S. ampullaceum on a cow pat at Seven Sisters. The location (SN827090) was in a different grazing unit to the patches I saw in 2015, and a different monad, though the same tetrad.
 Photo courtesy of Chris Jones, taken using a macro lens clipped onto his phone camera.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Nant Gelliwion Woodland SSSI

In common with much of eastern Rhonnda Cynon Taff, tetrad ST08U is very under-recorded (just 21 taxa according to Barry's most recent map) despite having considerable potential. Yesterday's Glamorgan Fungus Group outing to the Nant Gelliwion Woodland SSSI gave me the chance to add around 45 species, which were jotted down as a distraction from the fungal fun.
 In truth we barely reached the SSSI as there was much to see on the approaches from Maritime Industrial Estate, though the little bit of it we did see looked very promising (photo above). A rotten log was covered in Nowellia (photo below). I'll definitely be returning for a proper look.


On returning to the Industrial Estate, there was rather a nice patch of Calliergonella lindbergii on tarmac.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

More Tortella torture

dry and wetted vouchers of T. tortuosa  from Port Eynon Point
Recent changes in Tortella taxanomy inspired me to look a bit more critically at a specimen of Tortella tortuosa I collected on the headland at Port Eynon. Whilst I'm sure it is said that species, it took a good while to find any leaves with quadrate superficial cells on the dorsal, upper costa - eventually I did find some but most lacked quadrate cells from leaf-base to tip.