Saturday, 3 January 2015

An itch that needed to be scratched

I've been wanting to have a proper look at Tarren y Gigfran (ST09U), an area of sandstone crags and block screes to the south of Aberfan, for some time - and I finally got the chance yesterday. There were only two previous bryo records from the site: Andreaea rothii ssp. falcata recorded by Wade in 1958, and Racomitrium lanuginosum recorded by me on a casual visit in 2012.

On the way to the crags was a small wooded cwm filled with huge sandstone blocks.

These supported a good range of acidophiles including abundant Scapanea nemorea on some of the blocks.
Sandstone blocks with abundant Scapanea nemorea
To reach the east-facing northern crag I had to cross a large area of block screes, which supported abundant Racomitrium heterostichum, occasional A. rothii ssp. falcata, small patches of Ptilidium ciliare and Scapania gracilis, and a couple of patches of what I think is Polytrichastrum alpinum (see photo below - stems were branched and look good for it, but I suppose I should attempt a leaf section to confirm).
Sandstone blocks and crags beyond
Andreaea rothii ssp. falcata
Ptilidium ciliare
Polytrichastrum alpinum (tbc)
Polytrichastrum alpinum (tbc)
The northern crags showed absolutely no evidence of base enrichment, but a nice range of calcifuge mosses were present including frequent Cynodontium bruntonii and a couple of cushions of Bartramia pomiformis.
Cynodontium bruntonii
Bartramia pomiformis
The itch isn't quite scratched as I didn't have time to look at the southern crag, which is north-east facing and longer than the northern crag. Another time...


  1. That's a mega list for ST09, George. Very well done! Racomitrium aciculare is relatively widespread in S Wales on gravestones, but usually where it's a bit damp.

  2. Looks like a lovely site with a very nice selection of species

  3. Thanks both. The southern crag could really do with a look too, but it's a hard slog getting to it - there is no grazing, so lots of brambles below the crags.

    I'm still sorting through some samples brought home, which have added Solenostoma gracillimum and Pleuridium acuminatum among others, plus some confusing Racomitriums which I'll blog about when I get chance.