Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Philonotis query

A record of Dicranella rufescens I made from a streamside at Garth Hill back in August 2014 had been playing on my mind for a while - partly because I haven't recorded this species since that time, and also because I was a rank beginner back then and liable to make even more mistakes than I do nowadays!

I located the specimen in my collection and it became immediately obvious, on getting it under the scope, that it was nothing like Dicranella. In fact it is a very skinny Philonotis with shoots just a little over 1cm tall. I struggle to comprehend how I came to the conclusion that it was D. rufescens - I guess the red stem, small size and habitat were enough to convince me.

I'm not entirely sure which Philonotis it is. The shoots are somewhat falcate-secund which, coupled with their skinniness, suggests it could be P. caespitosa. I've checked the older leaves microscopically and none seem to be pleated, or with recurved margins, which fits with caespitosa rather than weedy fontana - but I'm not sure the cells are big enough. The photos below might help - if not I'd probably best pass the specimen on to Sam.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Damp bryo birthday bash

I took the day off work on Tuesday with the intention of a birthday bryo outing to the hills, but the morning rain put me off attempting anything at altitude. So it turned into a woodland day instead - less extreme but thoroughly enjoyable.

I started with a trip to see the Lepidozia cupressina colony at Caerphilly Mountain (found by Peter Sturgess in 2015). It was much easier to find than on our frosty visit in January 2016, though I only found patches of it on three stones (Bazzania trilobata was much more extensive).
After that I nipped up to Nant Gelliwion Woodland SSSI on the edge of Pontypridd, where we only scratched the surface during a fungus group foray in September. The site held records of 18 common bryo species, mostly from past CCW surveys, but had clearly never been properly explored.
I spent a couple of hours exploring the stream and the north-facing slope of the woodland, which produced a few species of local significance including two which I think are new for ST08. The best of these was Metzgeria conjugata, which occupied the downstream side of a stream boulder (outlined in photo below). Also of note was Heterocladium heteropterum var flaccidum.
A few other often sterile species were seen with capsules, including Tetraphis pellucida, Homalia trichomanoides and a large, dark green form of Ctenidium molluscum (photos below).
Many of the decorticated logs in the wood were covered in Nowellia and one had a couple of patches of Riccardia palmata. A more recently fallen tree held some Frullania tamarisci.
I also have some hair-pointless Racomitrium on which to attempt a nerve section - given the streamside location I'm hoping this might be R. affine.
70 taxa were recorded within the wood; another visit to explore the other side of the valley would surely add more. Additional exploration along the lanes and in the conifer plantation elsewhere in ST08P would probably take this tetrad to a very respectable species total.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Waun Afon revisited

It is always worth revisiting unusual habitats, and the largest peat bog in Gwent is certainly worth repeated visits.  I first looked at Waun Afon with Graham in the early 2000s, returned a few years later on my own, and then carried out an NVC survey of the bog over several days in ca. 2014.  Last week I looked at the heathland along the south-western edge of the bog, NVC surveying the area between the peatland and the main track along the bog's western edge.  This southern part falls in a different tetrad to the majority, so I took the opportunity to boost the total for SO20K from <50 to >100 bryophyte species.  Highlights within the heathland area were a small patch of Bazzania trilobata, two boulders with Barbilophozia attenuata, one with B. floerkei, and a rather decrepit patch of Polytrichum strictum.  A quick walk up the side of Cefn Coch to compare the heathland there with the area I had been surveying revealed increasingly abundant Rhytidiadelphus loreus and star find of the day: the first Sphagnum quinquefarium in VC35 for nearly 100 years!  After completing the survey I wandered south to the ruin of Ty Rheinallt noting Archidium alternifolium and Riccia sorocarpa on a track and some remarkably high altitude (390m aOD) Syntrichia papillosa on an Elder.  All in all, a worthwhile day.

Aloina ambigua in Singleton Park

There was an abundance of this species, which was fruiting prolifically, on paths of the herb garden wheel @ SS62899245. As can be seen in the top image the paths are made up of a different material (a fine reddish dirt) to the rest of the garden, so the species may be confined to his feature. The basal membrane of the peristome is just about visible on some capsules in the field, but is best confirmed under the microscope. I didn't note all associates, but they included Pseudocrossidium hornschuchianum, Didymodon luridus and Marchantia polymorpha ssp ruderalis. These are generally scarce in a moss turf that was dominated by the ambigua.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

More Lophocolea semiteres in VC41

Because we've been concentrating mostly on fungi this autumn, most of our bryophyte recording has been rather incidental. Some of the most interesting records recently include a very large colony of Lophocolea semiteres in a Pine/Spruce forest in Ton Mawr (SS79589751) growing on needle beds and on fallen trunks with Hypnum jutlandicum and Lophocolea bidentata. While it is, perhaps, an unwelcome species in general, it is an interesting addition to the conifer plantation flora of Glamorgan.

Lophocolea semiteres, Ton Mawr

The Ton Mawr Sitka Spruce forest also has a small population of Leucobryum juniperoideum (which I've posted on before) and we saw more of this under Sitka in Glyncorrwg last week. There are now at least 4 records of this species associated with Sitka Spruce forests in Glamorgan.
re: Comments - See photo of Maes Gwyn Larch plantation habitat below.

Lophocolea semiteres habitat, Maes Gwyn Larch plantation

While foraying near the Red Jacket Iron Works site (near Jersey Marine) we noted a significant population of Riccia subbifurca growing with Fossombronia (not yet in fruit) and large amounts of what looks like Cephaloziella rubella (stilling working on it!). Lots of attractive Calliergonella lindbergii and Climacium dendroides here too and there is a large selection of grassland and birch/willow scrub fungi, such as Blue-edge Pinkgill (Entoloma serrulatum).

Track with Riccia subbifurca and Fossombronia, Red Jacket

Entoloma serrulatum, Red Jacket

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Leason Wood ramble

A ramble through a short section of the north Gower Ash woods last Friday produced a few records of interest, the best of which were a small colony of Marchesinia mackaii (photos of part of the colony and the rock it is on below, this being only the second north Gower colony I've come across) and a sheep-trodden Hygrocybe calyptriformis in an open grassy area. It would be an interesting exercise to monitor the changes in composition of the field layer in these Ash-dominated woodlands as Ash-die-back takes its course.

Dyffryn Gardens revisited

Some casual recording at the gardens last weekend produced the most convincing Glamorgan Oxyrrhinchium schleicheri I have seen to date. Although many leaves lacked the twisted leaf tips, plenty had them, but more importantly the main stems were growing horizontally through the soil, the plants had a very bushy habit but cell measurements sealed the deal. The species was scattered above the rockery hillock in the background of the above photo.