Monday, 18 January 2016

Penyclawdd Wood revisited

Penyclawdd Wood (SO40J/P) is part of my Dingestow Court home patch, and was one of the first areas where I recorded bryophytes 17 years ago.  Since then I have made many visits, but these largely stopped when Bea was born (7 years ago) and I have only looked once since 75% of the wood's conifer blocks were clearfelled in 2012.  That visit, in 2013, produced Dingestow's only Sphagnum record: a single patch of S. subnitens.  Yesterday I checked two other blocks of clearfell, one of which has been almost overwhelmed by Ulex gallii (!!) whereas the other remains relatively clear.  There was no Sphagnum, but species of note in the clearfell/regrowth areas included Archidium alternifolium (photo), Fissidens exilis (photo) and Fossombronia pusilla


A damp, clay track that was once heavily disturbed by farm traffic is now kept open by pedestrians (and deer) because vehicles use the tracks that were put in for conifer extraction.  The sedge-rich vegetation on the clay track holds locally abundant Campylium protensum (photo), scattered Bryum pseudotriquetrum (photo) and some non-fertile Weissia with decumbent shoots that is probably W. squarrosa (photo).

There were various blocks of broadleaved woodland among the conifers, and these now stand proud of the clearfell.  One area of 30 year old birches surround a spring where Chiloscyphus pallescens and Fissidens adianthoides grow alongside Valeriana dioica and various other calcicoles.  The floor of this 'birch grove' holds abundant Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus (very rare around Dingestow) and is the only site locally for R. loreus (photo) (a few shoots 15 years ago, but now a couple of small patches) and Loeskeobryum brevirostre (photo) (one hand-sized patch about 7 years ago, but now abundant over >5x5m!).


It is fascinating to be able to revisit this very diverse area of woodland after so long.  It used to support White Admirals, Glow-worms and many different moth species.  More to revisit over the next several years.


  1. That must be pretty rich square, how many species have you recorded there now? Also demonstrates nicely that nothing is fixed in time and there's no such thing as a complete survey.

  2. PS. I came to Wales and worked for four years at Penclacwydd, though these days I spend more time at Penclawdd, and now you introduce me to Penyclawdd ... Welsh Place names, you've got to love them!

  3. I've had 227 taxa from SO40P plus a few additions from SO40J and SO41K. There are still lots of bits of the main tetrad that have never received a thorough survey, and additions (eg Encalypta streptocarpa, Anomodon viticulosus and Orthotrichum pallens) come each year. There is definitely no such thing as a complete survey. Most nearby tetrads have 50-75 species recorded from 1 or 2 visits. We can't possibly achieve "Home Patch" coverage throughout a county.