Monday, 2 September 2019

Splachnum season

Marsh Fritillary larval web surveys can only mean one thing (apart from the obvious) - the chance to look for Splachnum species on herbivore dung in wet pasture. Today I came across a patch of young S. ampullaceum plants, on cattle dung in a valley mire on Fairwood Common. The only other Gower record of this moss is from pony dung in the same mire system three years ago.

Incidentally, having seen quite a bit of non-fruiting Splachnum in South Wales, I was delighted to chance across a splendid fruiting patch in the New Forest in July.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Hot Moss

I was walking around Hay-on-Wye yesterday and on approaching the Rose and Crown pub I noticed that the building has recently been re-pointed – I half expected the tuft of Hedwidgia ciliata that has sat on the edge of the porch for at least 15 years (and I think first reported by Jonathan Sleath), to have been cleaned off during the works, but it was good to see it is still present.

Unfortunately it is probably too late for any mosses on the building adjoining Hay Castle as during restoration work the roof tiles have been stripped and stacked and look like they have been brushed clean. 

Stone-tiled old buildings in this area of Wales and England have long been known to support interesting assemblage of uncommon mosses that thrive in the harsh conditions on sunny roof-tops.   Some years ago Plantlife produced a leaflet to help raise awareness of the importance of these roof-top gardens and it is still available on their web site: - perhaps i’ll send one to the Hay Castle Trust as they are probably unaware of the biodiversity significance of their old tiled roof and I might send a refresher to Cadw as well.  

I remembered that last year I took some photos of roof-top mosses at the wonderful National Trust – owned Cwmmau Farmhouse, near Brilley, in that very Welsh part of Herefordshire.   I was going to make a post then, but the weather suddenly entered a very wet spell and it seemed less topical.  Anyway, the photos I took are still on my phone…..   I am not 100% about the Grimmias, but some may be G. laevigata and more rounded tufts G. ovalis – perhaps someone out there has more confidence.     

If you like 17C. buildings, then visiting this farmhouse is a must and the mosses are a bonus.  Unfortunately it is only open to the public one week each year, but for the rest of the time it is available as a holiday let (although you will need to dig deep into your pockets, unless you are able to share costs among the 10 people it can accommodate).  

I you want to see some of these mosses close-up, then best not to pick them off porches etc, but instead have a wander around buildings and look on the ground for small pieces that have dropped off the roof.   If you are lucky, you might find some H. ciliata var. leucophaea, which has been seen at Dore Abbey in Herefordshire and a couple of sites in Monmouthshire.  I haven’t knowingly seen var. leucophaea myself, but looking more closely at the Cwmmau photo, perhaps some of the Hedwiga there is approaching  var. leucophea?

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Crymlyn Burrows

A patch of Syntrichia ruralis ssp. ruraliformis lacking hairpoints was something I've not come across previously. I could find any reference to varietal status, though the reduced hairpoint character seems analogous to that of S. montana var. calva. The site is comprised brownfield dune vegetation on rubble and sand behind the hard engineered sea defences. Lots of Glaucium flavum too, with close to 300 counted.

At Penllergaer, a large mound of Leucobryum glaucum that had developed at the base of a large Rhododendron at  was new for SS69, though the tree had been cut down and the regrowth provided minimal shade / humidity. It looks like this area could be lost to the expanding residential development taking place at the site. 

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Rhossili Down

Tortula wilsonii (tbc) was the highlight of a wander around the n.w. section of Rhossili Down yesterday. It was growing as a few discrete, but dense patches totaling c.3 sqcm on soil ledges on a Brownstones Formation outcrop, Gower's oldest (Silurian) rocks SS41729038. Immediate soil associates included Sedum anglicum, Thymus polytrichus, Hypnum cupressiforme var. resupinatum, Trichostomum brachydontium, Pseudephemerum nitidum, Ceratodon purpureum, Cladonia sp. & Lepraria sp.

The same ledges held a few patches of Campylopus fragilis, at what is only the second site for Glamorgan.

Another Glamorgan first was Philonotis arnellii (tbc), which occurred as thinly scattered shoots on the steep mossy bank below Gorse and Bramble scrub, adjacent to the footpath at the base of the hill SS41649051. This is the site where I previously found Fissidens curvatus, which I failed to refind yesterday. Associates included Fissidens bryoides, Amblystegium serpens, Mnium hornum, Kindbergia praelonga, Richardia chamaedryfolia, Lophocolea bidentata & Weissia perssonii.

A small outcrop at the same location held Pterogonium gracile with Riccia subbifurca on the overlying thin soil crust. Anther colony of the Riccia was found higher up the hill on an ant hill.

All in all, it was a good afternoon, with a bonus ring Ouzel to boot (though not the views enjoyed by Charles & Hilary and Cwm Ivy the week before). The walk off the hill, following the stream below three spring heads, which held Sphagnum denticulatum & subnitens, plus Bryum alpinum & Sarmentypnum exannulatum, added some useful tetrad records that included Hookeria lucens, Plagiothecium denticulatum, Scpania undulata, Pellia neesiana, Campylium stellatum & Oxyrrhynchium speciosum.

Friday, 29 March 2019

On the relationship between the rare moss Bryum marratii Wilson and a dune aquifer

Just a short note following on from the paper last year on Bryum marratii at Whiteford. Posted here as a useful reference point. Im sure you all have the journal access but if not and you want a copy drop me an email.

Callaghan & Farr (2019) On the relationship between the rare moss Bryum marratii Wilson and a dune aquifer, Journal of Bryology, 41:1, 59-62, DOI: 10.1080/03736687.2018.1551591

Port Eynon Point

A Fossombronia, which was widely distributed along the heavily trodden grass walkway on Port Eynon Point headland, under the microscope proved to be incurva and not the expected husnotii. This is only the third record for vc41.