Thursday, 30 June 2016

Flat Holm

To cheer myself up I am off to Flat Holm in August to undertake a little water survey. Ill be there for a few days recording water seepages on the cliffs (ideal bryo territory?). The geology is dominated by Carboniferous Limestone.

Although I haven't planned to collect any bryos (it's a SSSI and I would need permission) I thought id let you know in case this was useful in anyway, or if there was anything you wanted me to look out for ?  I'll be armed with a camera and GPS as a minimum.

It is the most southerly part of South Wales after all !

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Orthotrichum pallens - a surprise from NE Wales

During my visit to Clwyd last week I collected an interesting-looking Orthotrichum from a Sycamore on the calcareous lead mine we were surveying.  Its orange-tipped, hairless calyptrae looked good for O. pallens, although I have recently been fooled by forms of O. stramineum so I wasn't too hopeful.  To my relief, a microscope check revealed nicely exposed cryptopore stomata, and removing a ripe capsule's lid released a peristome with 16 endostome teeth (8 in virtually all confusion species).  Hooray!

This is the second Welsh record following on from a few tufts on a Field Maple in a hedge at Dingestow, but given the rapid increase in this moss in England I'm sure it won't be the last Welsh record.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

A trip to north-east Wales

Work took me to Clwyd for 2 nights and 1 day.  The day was spent mapping some very nice limestone grassland, with 50+ Frog Orchid and some Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries (eventually photographed and IDed, to my disappointment as I was hoping for Pearl-bordered!).  Both evenings were spent on the stunning limestone escarpment of Creigiau Eglwyseg/Trevor Rocks, whilst a pre-breakfast wander by the River Dee just upstream of Llangollen produced a completely different bryoflora.

Eglwyseg is phenomenally spectacular, but its bryoflora doesn't quite live up to its appearance (or to its rich lichen flora).  Some areas, such as World's End, have been regularly worked by bryologists and have been visited by BBS groups, and these hold a few Nationally Scarce species, such as Entosthodon muehlenbergii and Plagiopus oederianusDitrichum flexicaule s.str had been recorded in the past, and the most recent BBS visit revealed Schistidium robustum and Entodon concinnus, but the site looks ideal for rarer things: why aren't Pennine specialities such as Encalypta rhaptocarpa, Mnium thomsonii and Zygodon gracilis there?!  My two sites, to unknown areas in the south of the escarpment, produced a few Nat Scarce mosses, such as D. flexicaule, Pleurochaete squarrosa and potential S. robustum, as well as Encalypta vulgarisSchistidium elegantulumBarbilophozia barbataTortula subulata and an excellent tufa spring with Philonotis calcarea, but I don't think there are any surprises among my scant collections for checking.  Any bryo walk when I spent my time photographing lichens must be bryologically disappointing!

Barbilophozia barbata among Dicranum scoparium, and Encalypta vulgaris with a view!

The stretch of the Dee that I checked was also disappointing, with the sunny riverside rocks far too shaded by trees and rank vascular plants, and no sign of Grimmia laevigata or G. ovalis (I hope they are still nearby...).  Equally down-curved Pterogonium gracile and Scleropodium cespitans were perhaps the most notable species, although a Grimmia lurking among the Pterogonium might be better.

Downcurved Pterogonium gracile and Scleropodium cespitans by the Dee. 

My daytime survey, in the Eryrys area, produced Entodon concinnus, Didymodon acutus and Pleurochaete squarrosa.

Pleurochaete squarrosa in the Eryrys area.

Both walks on Eglwyseg were enlivened by 100s of Plutella xylostella: part of the massive national influx of this moth.
Plutella xylostella with Dinas Bran in the background.

Friday, 3 June 2016