Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sun-drenched crag

Buckland Hill above Bwlch (between Brecon and Crickhowell) is a bracken infested common, part of which has been planted with conifers.  It doesn’t look very appealing, but there are some tiny east-facing crags, which I have looked at on hundreds of occasions when driving by, which could have a few bryo species not found elsewhere in the tetrad.   Had day off work today so decided to wander the 2km from home to have a look – 15 minutes of smashing through bracken, gorse and bramble on the common and I arrived at the crags. 

The flat tops of the crags were enriched by the few stock that graze the area and the vertical faces weren't too promising.  I could see some more mossy rocks below the base of the crags so clambered down and found some nice patches of Pterogonium gracile, the tiniest patch of Hedwigia stellata and, rather unexpectedly on a damp area of the vertical face, a couple patches of Campylopus fragilis (don’t see it very often in VC42 – mainly upland rock ledges – is it mainly coastal in Glam?) together with a bonus patch of Tortella bambergeri, so it was probably just about worth all the scratches.

Elsewhere on the hill there were a few tiny rock exposures – again mostly highly enriched with dung, but a couple had Scapania compacta.   With River Usk running through southern part of this tetrad it will probably turn out to have quite a high species total, despite about 3/4 of the area being improved grassland.  


  1. I'd say that was well worth the effort! Tortella bambergeri and Campylopus fragilis would both be new for me and I don't know of any coastal records of the latter in Glamorgan. Nor have I seen Pterogonium gracile, but there is a record for Rhossili which I've been planning to try and relocate.

  2. With Tortella bambergeri being fairly frequent on the Old Red Sandstone across the National Park, I sometimes forget how scarce it is in other areas. Until Sam realised what is was and reported it new to Britain, it had obviously been overlooked by generations of bryologists, but once learned it is often quite easy to spot from many metres away. There is a profile of the species tucked away on the BBS web site which you might not have seen - so well worth bearing in mind if you ever on the Old Red - Sam also found it on limestone near Abergavenny last year, so there may be other possibilities.

    I don't see much Pterogonium, so always pleased when I do come across it - there is a bit of a hotspot for it around the SE part of Black Mountains. I also seem to recall that it was on rocks above the track between the pond and the bird hide at Dinefwr Park and it is on some of the big oak trees there - but generally speaking it is more common on rock in south Wales. This was one of species I was hoping to find yesterday, and fortunately I remembered what it looks like when wet (as it had rained throughout night and everything was soaked) - I find Pterogonium much easier to spot when dry and branches are often more obviously curved than the pic in Field Guide shows.

  3. Thanks for the info Graham, somehow reading about local sightings is so much more educational than reading any book. Yes I have seen the species profile on the Tortella.

  4. One caveat - it was Jan Kucera from Czechia who first alerted us to T bambergeri: I just ran with it! Jan pointed out a Tortella on a Scottish BBS meeting and said "in the Czech Republic we would call this T. bambergeri". He explained why, and I then searched through herbaria in order to clarify whether the species really was present in Britain. The clincher was a fruiting specimen from Scotland, with straight peristome teeth rather than the curled ones of T. tortuosa.