Friday, 30 September 2016

SN71 boundary tetrads

As shown above, SN71 is shared between Glamorgan and Carmarthenshire, the former much the poorer cousin of the latter in terms of bryophyte habitats. However, a tetrad with <60 species is always a challenge and  this afternoon I visited the very small bit of SN71C in Glamorgan (i.e. the northern part of the coal storage site south of the Afon Aman shown below), taking it to 70 species. Note the MapMate vc41 boundary is rather crude and shows boundaries in some squares that do not exist (e.g. on the map above it looks like part of SN71H is in Glamorgan, but it isn't and I have corrected some of the squares on the tetrad map after checking the boundary thoroughly using 'Grab a Grid Reference Duo' shown below. Note, you can use the 'toggle vice county' filter below the satellite map to view the appropriate boundary and zoom right in. There are still four more Glamorgan boundary squares to be done in SN71 and two in SN81. A quick look in the Carms Bryo-flora shows the Carmarthenshire squares have all been visited, a couple of which are in the 61-90 species category, so 60-70 seems a realistic target for the remaining Glamorgan squares in this hectad. 

Recording wise, there were no surprises, but it was interesting to note the coal storage area was mildly basic with species noted such as Pellia endiviifolia and Cratoneuron filicinum. I did pop over the bridge into vc44 and noted the coaly track there was much more acidic with frequent Archidium alternifolium (photos below), Gymnocolea inflata, Dicranella heteromalla, etc.

The bridge abutments and adjacent walls were of limited interest though Gymnostomum aeruginosum was abundant.

Finally, as is so often the case, the grass (or moss) always looks greener on the other side of the fence (or river), but unfortunately my wellies weren't tall enough to venture across to this part of Carms, but an easy site to access, so maybe worth a check when the river is lower...

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Ty-du Moors SSSI

I spent a fascinating and enjoyable day on this Cardiff fen with Julian Woodman, trying to work out why base-rich areas (with Eriophorum latifolium, Epipactis palustris, Gymnadenia sp. and Triglochin palustris) are becoming increasingly dominated by Sphagnum subnitens and Aulacomnium palustre.  We concluded that more work is needed, with input from Gareth Farr (what a shame you couldn't join us today, Gareth), but probing revealed over 2.5m of peat near the centre of the moor, whilst test coring showed that the base-rich areas and associated Juncus subnodulosus fen are on continuous peat, whereas the edges of the moor with Carex acutiformis fen has a layer of organic-rich clay-silt above the peat.

Campylium protensum is locally abundant in the remaining good, base-rich areas, along with Fissidens adianthoides, Plagiomnium ellipticum, P. undulatum and one stand of Dicranum bonjeaniiChiloscyphus pallescens and Cratoneuron filicinum were only in one area.  Poached damp grassland held Pseudephemerum nitidum and one patch of Ephemerum serratum

A check of surrounding Willow scrub was worthwhile, with a fruiting patch of Pylaisia polyantha on one Willow, as well as commoner epiphytes.  I think this is the 2nd Glamorgan record, following one on south Gower.  It's a pity that I found this epiphyte after George had left us, following his visit in the morning.  Nearby Alder carr held a peculiar tiny, narrow-leaved moss with gemmae on the leaf tips, forming an extensive patch on a well-rotted log.  I'm 99% certain this is Plagiothecium latebricola. {sorry about the bad iPod photos, I wish I knew how to rotate them in Blogger}.

Julian and I ended the day with a visit to some wonderful damp arable fields that Nick, the owner of Ty-du Moors, manages.  We relocated the Anthoceros that Julian and George saw last autumn, and I have a specimen to measure (though it's 99% certain to be A. agrestis).  Alongside were several thalli of Phaeoceros sp. (probably P. carolinianus but needing more study), and abundant Riccia glauca and Fossombronia sp.

All in all a good day, and I hope a boost for tetrad ST17E.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Splach attack

You'd be forgiven for thinking this is another photo of the Splachnum ampullaceum found on Fairwood Common eight days ago, but it was in fact found on a cow pat at Cefn Gwili, Carmarthenshire (SN577090) today. We also found 25 (rather soggy) Marsh Fritillary webs at this SSSI site, so a pretty good day despite the grim weather.

Sam also found S. ampullaceum at a site 7km west of here a few weeks ago. It's proving to be a good season for finding new Splachnum sites.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Leucobryum juniperoideum in Sitka Spruce plantation

Leucobryum juniperoideum under Sitka Spruce, Garnwen, Afan Forest Park

Mature Sitka forests in the South Wales uplands have something of the look and feel of the coniferous, temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.  Unlike the younger, rather barren Sitka thickets, the older forests let in significant amounts of light, which together with their cool, humid atmosphere, provides ideal conditions for bryophytes and ferns. Common associates are Rhytidiadelphus loreus, Plagiothecium undulatum, Pseudotaxyphyllus elegans, Hypnum jutlandicum, Hylocomium splendens, Thuidium tamariscinum, Campylopus flexuosus, Dicranella heteromalla, Sphagnum fimbriatum and Diplophyllum albicans. Others like Hookeria lucens and Dicranum majus are more occasional. The Atlas tells us that Leucobryum juniperoideum can also be expected in conifer forests. Decades ago I saw it in the Lodgepole Pine forest near Pluck Lake (Lower Swansea Valley). Recently we revisited the site but couldn't find it again. But this afternoon, sheltering from the monsoonal rain, we just happened to come across a small population (SS83519223) in a mature Sitka coupe between Drysiog and Garnwen (opposite Maesteg Golf Course). Standing trees at the edge of the forest have ubiquitous Colura while self thinning has resulted in the accumulation  of deadfall in all stages of decay, some logs with lots of Nowellia curvifolia

Mynydd Garthmaelwg

On Saturday we had a family excursion to this mixed woodland, also known locally as Smaelog or Smilog, or just plain old Llantrisant Forest. The kids soon lost interest in looking for mushrooms and spent a fair while mucking about climbing on logs, which gave me some time for bryo recording. This part of RCT is seriously under-recorded and the two main tetrads covering the forest, ST08H and ST08C, had only 24 and 4 bryo taxa recorded respectively.

We walked alongside a large clearfell which proved rather good, with a small rotten log covered in Nowellia curvifolia and a few small cushions of Leucobryum growing on humus. As Barry and Charles have noted in earlier blog posts, the relative lengths of the upper and lower parts of the leaves proved unhelpful in determining the species due to the variability of this feature. But like Barry and Charles I was able to take a leaf section to confirm it was, as expected, L. juniperoideum.


On a trackside bank were some good patches of Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus, an uncommon species in south-east Glamorgan. It's a big forest and I'm sure there'll be plenty of other bryophytes to discover. I look forward to returning.

Pointed Beard-moss at Merthyr Mawr

Compared to the scrappy little colonies of Didymodon acutus along the Gower coast, those at Merthyr Mawr are much larger and hence much easier to spot. The species was first noted here by Sam in 2012 and it was just good fortune, rather than forward planning, that I happened to walk over exactly the same area last week and recorded exactly the same strong colony. The habitat comprised patches of very short, rabbit-grazed dune grassland between swathes of Rosa spinosissima (photo below). Associates included Bryoerythrophyllum recurvirostrum, Barbula convoluta var. convoluta, Hypnum cupressiforme var. lacunosum, Ditrichum gracile, Ceratodon purpureus and Pseudocrossidium hornschuchianum.

As hard as I try, autumn fungi are often too attractive to ignore, as was the case with what looks like Clavaria vermicularis fruiting in a rabbit excavation. I couldn't decide what the Hygrocybe was, which will be left unidentified unless someone can name it for me (neither the stipe or the cap seemed particularly viscous).

Riccia sorocarpa along Pembrey Forest track

No where near as significant as Charles and Hilary's Pelenna observation, but forest tracks clearly provide good opportunities for other Riccia species too. This was part of quite a nice colony on a damp sandy track not far from the camp site (SN405001), stumbled upon shortly before we came out of the woods and ended up at a miniature steam rally - so much for a quiet walk in the woods!

I don't know if Charles is able to name these fungi? Both were found in an interesting area of willow carr which clearly floods in the winter?

Friday, 23 September 2016

Riccia subbifurca along Pelenna Forest track

A substantial population of a small Riccia drew out attention this afternoon while we were heading along a newly created forest track which bisects a Larch clear-fell in the Pelenna conifer plantation (near Ton Mawr). We've seen R. subbifurca on South Gower before but this is new for NPT as far as I'm aware.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Slender Stubble-moss by the Ogmore Dipping Bridge

On my way back from Merthyr Mawr yesterday, I checked the tetrad map and decided to make a quick pit-stop at the Dipping Bridge, in an attempt to take SS87Z over the 60 mark. I gave it 15 minutes and probably walked little more than 20m from the car, checking the downstream section of the left hand bank, which had a reasonable selection of species that should bump the list up a bit. The highlight however, was Gyroweisia tenuis growing as a few scattered patches on damp sections of the wall that runs parallel to the road as you approach from the south-east (SS89127835), one such patch highlighted below.
NB. the smallest tick marks =10μm (so leaves ~100μm wide) 

Marvellous Merthyr Mawr

Prior to undertaking a search of the scraped slack habitats at this beautiful NNR, Sam's NRW colleagues, Duncan Ludlow and Emma Brown kindly showed me one of the known Petalophyllum ralfsii colonies at Merthyr Mawr yesterday, plus we also visited the spot where George made his nocturnal observation a week or two back. Given the very dry conditions at these locations, I was pleasantly surprised by how large and verdant the Petalophyllum plants were.

We also looked at one of this year's Portland Moth locations, where George recently discovered Riccia cavernosa and we estimated there must have been a few thousand small rosettes developing. As far as I'm aware this is a new species for the reserve. The largest specimens we could find are depicted below, but most were much smaller. Given the right conditions, there could be quite a display here. Duncan informed me that this area has been subjected to some scrub clearance work and its use as a bridleway stopped, so the occurrence of the moth and the liverwort highlights at least two significant benefits of the work and controls implemented here. I've marked the extent of the Riccia colony on the photo below.

Unfortunately there was no Petallophyllum or Riccia to be found in the two scraped areas I examined, though the larger slack is at a very early stage of colonisation and was well populated with non-fruiting Bryum species. In addition to frequent dichotomum and argenteum and occasional gemmiferum, there were patches of putative dyffrynense (photo below), which may be worth sending off to David Holyoak? At least two other Bryum leaf forms were present, so a site well worth revisiting as succession takes place...
...PS. does anyone know what causes these rings in the wet sand? I'm guessing it's fungal, but I never collected any to look under the miscroscope.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Splachnum on Gower

Over the last couple of years I've been looking out for Splachnum on the Gower Commons during Marsh Fritillary larval web surveys. I've glanced over I don't know how many cow pats in suitable wet acidic habitat and seen nothing, and only yesterday said to Karen Wilkinson "it really doesn't seem to be here, how odd". So I suppose it was inevitable that I would stumble across some Splachnum on Fairwood Common today. This was S. ampullaceum on horse rather than cattle dung, in a valley mire at SS57659245. I found some more on another pile of horse dung nearby.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Fossombronia pusilla and a few more bryophilous fungi

We've been paying a bit more attention to fungi than bryophytes so far this autumn, but this weekend we happened upon a small group of fruiting Fossombronia pusilla on a forest track growing with  Dicranella varia and Trichodon cylindrica. George has already posted a nice photo of pusilla's characteristic spores, so I've not duplicated that here.

Fossombronia pusilla, Pelenna Forest track

 Photos below show a few of the common bryophilous species that we've seen already this autumn. Galerina is a genus of about 50, small brown spored species in Britain, most of which are associated with bryophytes but are difficult to identify in the field. However, Galerina vittiformis and G. sphagnicola are fairly distinct.

Galerina vittiformis with Dicranum scoparium. Note deeply sulcate cap.

Galerina sphagnorum in marshy grassland. Habitat and mottled stem are good indicators

Arrhenia is a small genus of species that grow in grassland and heathland usually associated with bryophytes. Some occur on sand dunes, notably A. spathulata, which is fairly common on Kenfig Dunes. Arrhenia griseopallida is a widespread species of dry, mossy grassland and lawns.

Arrhenia griseopallida.  Note funnel shaped cap.

Rickenella fibula is one of the most common bryophilous species in Britain. It has a tiny yellowish fruiting body which often grows among woodland floor bryophytes - it looks a little like a very small Bonnet (Mycena species).

Rickenella fibula

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Tranch Pyle old lime works

The white substrate of this old lime works always glares and demands attention whenever browsing satellite images of this area. In recent years Paul Roberts has found species there such as Dactylorhiza incarnata subsp. coccinea and Pyrola rotundifolia subsp. maritima highlighting good potential and it's been on my hit list of places to look for bryophytes. As I had to abandon Kenfig yesterday due to the thunderstorms, I decided to pop in for an hour during which time the rain thankfully turned to sunshine. Obviously the orchids had long gone over, but the Pyrola was still flowering and other prominent vasculars included additional dune slack species such as Salix repens and Molinia, plus quite a lot of Succisa, so an interesting mix. The sward was largely open with expanses of sparsely vegetated ground (click for video) dominated by bryos and species noted (in decreasing levels of abundance) included:
Trichostomum crispulum
Leiocolea badensis
Preissia quadrata
Dicranella varia
Didymodon fallax
Bryum dichotomum
Pellia endiviifolia
Aneura pinguis
Barbula convoluta var. convoluta
Bryum pseudotriquetrum
Campyliadelphus chrysophyllus
Ctenidium molluscum var. molluscum
Homalothecium lutescens
Gymnostomum viridulum
Didymodon tophaceus
Funaria hygrometrica
Campylium protensum

The red line on the map shows the area that I looked at, so there's plenty more of the site worth exploring. For ref,. there's a public footpath running around the site, but when parking it's best to squeeze onto the verge where I've shown on the plan (SS85248127), rather than use the obvious pull in (marked x), unless you don't mind the attentions of the guys at this popular gay pick-up spot. Also wellies are essential to get through the very muddy gate.  
Preissia quadrata - Leiocolea badensis crust