Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Thatch moss and a first for Glamorgan...

Today was a bitty sort of day, spent just west of Cardiff.  Most important was attending Roy Perry's funeral, as Roy launched me into bryology by lending me 'Watson' in 1996, and then steered me back on to the right path in 1999 when birding was proving too much of a distraction!  I'd probably be a full-time birder or moth'er if it hadn't been for Roy.

My main work of the day was helping Richard Lansdown with his survey of Thatch-moss (Leptodontium gemmascens) at Cosmeston Medieval Village.  Richard found this UKBAP moss new for Wales a couple of weeks ago, on two areas of low-hanging thatch, but today's ladder survey revealed patches on 5 of the site's 10 buildings and suggests there's a thriving Welsh population of this species.  I forgot my camera, but will post a couple of Richard's pics sooner or later.  If anyone wants to see Thatch Moss, look on the southern roof of the southernmost of the three linked buildings (the Reeve's Cottage, it's at head height above the door as well as on the SE corner, where shaded and kept damp by the roadside hedge.

I arrived slightly early at Cosmeston, so spent 20 minutes on the suburban clifftops north from Lavernock point (ST16Z).  Shaded tarmac was rather productive here, with Dialytrichia mucronata, Syntrichia latifolia and Didymodon nicholsonii, alongside a puzzling blunt-leaved, non-fruiting Orthotrichum that will remain unidentified.  A wander southwards revealed an arable field with its margins recently ploughed, where 3+ patches of Ephemerum recurvifolium made a nice addition to the Glamorgan list.  The sticky calcareous clay of this field also looked perfect for Microbryum floerkeanum, but I had little time to search and the ploughing had decimated the potential habitat.  George - finding this tiny Microbryum new to Glamorgan is your challenge for 2015...

After my visit to Cosmeston I spent 30 rain-soaked minutes bashing ST16P, getting ca. 40 species, including Syntrichia latifolia, S. laevipila, S. papillosaS. montana and S. ruralis, more Dialytrichia, and not a lot else! 


  1. That's a pretty productive day and good to hear it's possible to get up close and personal with 'The Thatch'. I'll have to look up E. recurvifolium - Clearly there's plenty the Vale has to offer! As it happened I was also in the Vale last weekend and found D. mucronata to be very common on the paths at Dyffryn Gardens, otherwise Cirriphyllum crassinervum was the only species of any note during some rather cursory inspections of the bryos there.

  2. Gosh this blog is going like the clappers at the moment!

    Well done on the VC first. Those arable fields were on my 'to do' list as Julian mentioned some good plants there. Sounds like a job for next autumn?

    I did a bit in ST16Z a few weeks ago, along the base of the cliffs north from the point - so my list will hopefully be quite different from yours.

    I'm now even more gutted about the thatch moss as that's exactly the place I looked in May and only saw Camp introflex! How on earth did I miss it? It was raining hard and I was on a cranefly course, so only had a couple of minutes to look, but even so...

  3. We passed some old thatch on buildings near Dyffryn last w/e which would be worth seeking permission to look at

  4. A few responses to all those comments:
    I think I saw Dialytrichia when I 'did' Dyffryn last spring. It'll be good to compare our lists, as I was hampered by children during my visit.
    Richard and I looked at the that lodge to Cottrell Park (ST079741) last year and got Colura but no Leptodontium. Most Glamorgan thatch is wire-netted, so no chance of Leptodontium: you need really soggy, shaded, non-netted thatch.
    Spotting Leptodontium is really difficult, especially in the rain. It can look very much like the associated Zygodon conoideus and is very small. Overlooking it is totally excusable!
    Excellent that you did the cliff base in ST16Z, George, as I was frustrated that I didn't reach that bit of the square.

    The need for getting my data into MapMate gets ever greater!

  5. I only recorded about 12 species along the cliff base. It was in late September at the end of a long dry spell, so probably worth a revisit in late winter when more species might be fruiting...