Sunday, 21 February 2016

Blustery and bleak on the Blorenge

I had two targets on the colliery spoil between the Blorenge and Blaenavon and failed on both: Lophocolea bispinosa doesn't seem to have reached the eastern Valleys yet, and Buxbaumia aphylla was always going to be a long-shot :-)  The wind and drizzle didn't help.

Anyway, I made separate DAFOR lists for a heather/crowberry-dominated colliery tip face (21 spp including Lophozia ventricosa silvicola and Cephaloziella hampeana), and a much more open, parched tip top (6 spp), and also found some Lophozia bicrenata on the side of a gully between two tips.

 A short trip north to Cwm Ifor, where a stream has carved a narrow ravine at the junction of the Millstone Grit and Carboniferous Limestone, produced a completely different flora.  Neckera crispa was amazingly abundant and was fruiting copiously, and there were various other calcicoles including Scapania aspera and Jungermannia atrovirens, although I couldn't see any sign of several of the notable species I found in the ravine in 2000/2003.  An outcrop of Millstone Grit above the ravine held abundant Barbilophozia attenuata and there were a few patches of Sphagnum squarrosum in a flush. 

My entire 1.5 hour visit was spent in tetrad SO21K, which is one of the richest in VC35 with >200 species recorded.  I visited many times between 1999 and 2003, including with Graham and with the Border Bryologists, so it was nice to return to old haunts.  Perhaps surprisingly, given previous coverage, I added 11 species to the tetrad total, so the day was useful.


  1. Liking the Barbilophozia 👍
    Wishing you luck with the Buxbaumia - you'll need all you can get looking at its distribution

  2. Buxbaumia grows/grew on colliery tips in the Glasgow area and nobody apart from me has ever had a conscious search for it on our coal tips. From all I have read it occurs sparsely at most/all of its British sites. I reckon there's a good chance it's here somewhere, but finding it is a real challenge!