Thursday, 27 October 2016

Lower Mellte Lower Hepste

Graham and I have agreed that we really must finalise our evaluation of the bryophytes of Coedydd Nedd a Mellte this winter, as we have been adding records for over 15 years now.  There are still several areas that we haven't searched, and so it was with high hopes that I set off upstream from the Craig y Ddinas carpark towards the Hepste confluence this morning.  The Mellte has been surveyed under contracts for the BBNPA by both Martha Newton and Nick Hodgetts, but there were no records of notable species from the east bank downstream of the Hepste for at least 1km.  The habitat looked pretty good, with bouldery reaches reminiscent of Eryri, and plenty of low cliffs, but a general paucity of waterfalls.

The only medium-sized falls below the confluence was edged with Anastrophyllum hellerianum oaks, but there were no Ash in its mist zone and no interesting Lejeuneaceae.  Rock shelves on a sharp bend in the river held Grimmia hartmanii and Scapania subalpina, and there were several logs with Cephalozia catenulata and Riccardia palmata.  An oak overhanging another low waterfall supported the only Jamesoniella autumnalis I saw during the day, and sphagna on the woodland slopes had me puzzling because none seemed to fit Sphangnum quinquefarium (just S. fimbriatum, S. subnitens and I hope S. russowii, but I have bits to check).

I turned into the Hepste relatively late in the day, so only had time to work upstream to the first pair of waterfalls.  These were pretty splendid, but again lacked small Lejeuneaceae.  The base of the waterfall cliff appeared to be Carboniferous Limestone, complete with a colony of Seligeria cf. donniana (fruiting, to be checked) and some Neckera crispa.  The ravine around the upper falls held a nice patch of Hymenophyllum tunbrigense, perhaps previously unknown, whilst a crevice near the lower falls had scattered patches of Killarney Fern gametophyte over a 20x20cm area.  The fungus Macrotyphula juncea was growing out of some damp leaves, and I also saw what I think is Cortinarius cinnabarinus among the Rhytidiadelphus loreus in steep woodland.  At the west end of the valley there was a log covered with liverworts, including abundant Lophozia incisa.


A long trudge back past Cilhepste revealed a tuft of Colura on birch on the edge of the woodland/plantation, as well as some lovely growths of various Usnea species.


Sometimes one builds a day up too much and ends up disappointed: this was a good day out by almost any standards, but the Nedd-fechan left me expecting excitements every time!


  1. I think most of us would be very pleased with a return like that. I guess the apparent absence of the rarer Lejeuneaceae highlights the importance of the other sites. Liking the M. juncea.

  2. That sounds like a nice day out to me Sam. Macrotyphula juncea is a fabulous club fungus and not that common in my experience, even though the books say it is.
    About 10 years ago I saw some Bazzania trilobata near the Mellte-Hepste confluence (approx SN924098), on the Mellte bank more or less on the confluence. Also some Dryopteris aemula near there if my memory serves me correctly.