Thursday, 23 March 2017

The easternmost of the west

Work took me to the valley of the Afon Diliw, which forms the border between Ceredigion and Montgomeryshire.  A couple of hours looking for bryophytes (and lichens) produced about 80 species in the main tetrad (SN87I) and 50 in the fragment of SN87J that falls within VC46.  Getting here involves driving in from the east (so it's a major trek from Aberystwyth) because the road in from Cwmystwyth is only suitable for 4x4, so as far as I know it was completely unknown bryologically.

There weren't any major surprises, and my hoped for oceanic liverworts were absent (except for copious Colura).  The most interesting species were Pohlia elongata (photo) on a rock outcrop, Jungermannia obovata by the river, Sphagnum girgensohnii (photo) and S. russowii (photo) on steep banks, and a patch of Lophozia incisa.  Lichens need a bit more checking, but Usnea filipendula and potential Hypotrachyna sinuosa were highlights.


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Went looking for Daltonia, found Herzogiella

I had a quick jaunt up to Llantrisant Forest (ST0284) this morning, with Daltonia firmly in mind. I followed the Nant Cwm-du from the lane down to the River Ely, but unsurprisingly there was no Daltonia to be found (it probably wasn't humid enough - the conifers being largely hemlock and larch rather than spruce - and there were no willows). There was ample compensation though, with a small patch of fruiting Herzogiella seligeri on the end of an old conifer log.


Close associates were Tetraphis pellucida, Mnium hornum and Pseudotaxiphyllum elegans.

It was nice to see some Bog Beacon too, the fruitboides poking their heads out of a shallow pool which also held some Sphagnum squarrosum.

The bryo total for ST08H is now into the 70s.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Barry in Barry

A walk out to the lighthouse on Barry's west breakwater in yesterday's murky conditions gave the opportunity to make a list of bryophytes on what must be a regularly storm-battered and salt-sprayed pier. Given the exposure, I was pleasantly surprised to record about 25 species, the most unexpected of which turned out to be Didymodon umbrosus, found unusually well-grown near the end of the pier at ST124665. Assuming I have the identification right, this is only the 3rd Glamorgan (4th? Welsh) record, but at what would seem to be a most unlikely location, growing on gritty soil gaps in the stones as shown by the arrow above. Direct associates growing with D. umbrosus, shown in the image below, include D. tophaceus, D. insulanus, Bryum dichotomum plus Amblystegium serpens var. serpens and Trichostomum crispulum were also noted with it in the field.
Note patent leaves bent out from hyaline sheaths with very narrow marginal cells. Also bistratose mid-leaf margins extending to a blunt, flat leaf tip
D. umbrosus & Trichostomum crispulum at same magnification

Adjacent to the breakwater, the tufa cliffs in Jackson Bay ST120666, which extend almost all the way along the east cliff of Nell's Point, held abundant Adiantum capillus-veneris and Eucladium verticilatum. This area looks good for Southbya, but my casual inspections during our walk failed to spot any. I'm not sure how well these cliffs have been searched by Gareth, George or others, but the cliffs would seem worthy of closer inspection should anyone find a bit spare time and they're down that way.

Friday, 17 March 2017

All gone pear-shaped

Leptobryum pyriforme in the garden, Gorseinon
Physcomitrium pyriforme on a bund at the top of the saltmarsh, Llanrhidian

That Didymodon!

I thought it was worth bringing this to the top again, as there's been an update bringing us a little closer to the identity of this moss, as discussed in the comments ...

After a bit of searching, I can't help feeling the material I've seen recently on base-rich coal spoil at Grovesend and concrete bases at Mynydd Lliw must be the poorly described D. validus referred to in the D. acutus entry in the new atlas. The taxon is reasonably well illustrated on the Swiss Bryophyte website as D. rigidulus var. validus. The photographs here should provide a reference against which any similar material encountered can be compared, so we can at least record it consistently until the taxonomy is resolved. The ultra-pointy leaf tip and broad base seems pretty diagnostic, especially when coupled with the darkish brown appearance. Sam, I'll send you some material for your opinion / reference. Did you say Des was doing some work on this group? If so would he be interested in a sample?

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Thanks to the gulls

I was in Bangor earlier this week for Butterfly Conservation's annual grant meeting with NRW. I always try and get up early enough to have a morning stroll before the meeting. This proved worthwhile last year, with Schistidium elegantulum new for VC49 on a wall near our hotel, but this year there was something much better...

I was woken well before my alarm by noisy gulls on the roof, and so my walk took me a bit further out of town than usual. I headed west through the narrow band of oak woodland at the top of the foreshore, above the Menai Strait. There was a fair diversity of bryos in an inviting looking crevice in the rocks, kept damp by overhanging oak boughs. A few samples were grabbed, and on checking these at home yesterday evening I was delighted and more than a little surprised to find Cephaloziella turneri among them.

Des Callaghan found this nationally rare liverwort in a gorge in Meirionydd in 2015 - the first North Wales record in nearly a century. My find was in surroundings more like the creek bank sites in Pembrokeshire, with associates being Mnium hornum, Diplophyllum albicans, Lejeunea lamacerina and Saccogyna viticulosa. My sample contained a single perianth.

For once, I was grateful to the noisy gulls.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Llyn Eiddwen

More news from distant West Wales.  Llyn Eiddwen is a NNR up in central Ceredigion, it has extensive mires on two sides which are owned by WTSWW and there are some quite choice bryophytes there.

I went in hope of refinding Sam's record of Pseudobryum cinclidioides but soon realised that it was unlikely to be above water since the lake was at least 1 or 2 feet higher than normal and much of the mire at the outflow end of the lake was submerged.  Still it was more than made up by finding numerous colonies of Scapania paludicola.

This distinctive species (did I just write that about a Scapania?) was growing on the tops of many of the Sphagnum hummocks scattered across the mire.  The keel is strongly arcuate but otherwise it is probably closest to S. irrigua although larger than many forms of that variable species.
Also of note were two patches of Cephalozia pleniceps, a rare species in Ceredigion, a hyper-abundance of Straminergon stramineum and a fine patch of Hamatocaulis vernicosus.  The mire is decidedly base enriched, at least in part, but I couldn't see any S. contortum or even Campylium stellatum although Sam had recorded the latter.  A nice patch of Riccardia palmata was a fairly good find for the county too but I was probably most pleased with some scraps of Cladopodiella francisci on a peaty bank at the edge of the mire as I had guessed it would be there if a scraping of liverworts from a vertical bank were examined but only a couple of shoots were present amongst a mat of Ceph bicusp and it would have needed a miracle to have spotted them in the field.

The site now has 144 species and there will undoubtedly be more to come.