Tuesday, 29 November 2016


View along the cliffs west of Slade, the arrowed spot showing a slope below an outcrop where I've
previously recorded Cephaloziella calyculata plus a similar range of species listed below.
It seems like an age since I last looked at the South Gower cliffs, but on the weekend I managed to steal an hour and a half so checked out a section of cliff with virtually no records. I spent the first hour scouring promising looking ground on some outcrops east of Slade but failed to find much of interest. The last 30 minutes thankfully proved to be more productive with species noted in the sward shown below (SS49188551) including Aloina aloides, Bryum donianum, B. kunzei, B. ruderale, Cephaloziella calyculata, Microbryum starckeanum, Pleurochaete squarrosa, Rhynchostegium megapolitanum, Weissia controversa var. crispata, etc..

 Putative Bryum kunzei - I do worry about this one, even though it looks pretty distinct!

Didymodon fallax and the much larger Pleurochaete squarrosa 

Bryum ruderale was particularly common in cliff-top turf in this section

Non-bryological interest was provided by one of the bryoparasitic Pezizales, which keys out Octospora coccinea. This is said to be common in the UK although only 7 records are shown on the NBN. The host was in rather poor condition for identification, but I looked like Bryum dichotomum.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Cwm Sion, late entry

I thought I'd lost the sample of Plagiochila spinulosa I collected at Cwm Sion earlier in the month, but discovered it hiding in the bottom of my bag yesterday evening. As it's not a very common species in Glamorgan (in fact this is only the third site to be identified), I thought it worth sharing this record shot.
Charles, I've been meaning to ask, are you interested in vouchers of this, the Tetrodontium and any other NPT vouchers you may not yet have for reference?

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

More bits and pieces

With limited time for square bashing lately, I thought I'd start to target a few squares close to home which are lacking records of the 10 commonest species. So, today I walked Alfie on Fairwood Common in an effort to add Ceratodon purpureus to SS59R and ended up spending 45 minutes splodging around the boggy area opposite the entrance to the university playing fields (SS576925). There were no major surprises, but it was nice to find Cephalozia connivens and a few patches of Sphagnum compactum on a bog / wet-heath mosaic where there was a great abundance of Hypericum elodes. A few calcicoles were found adjacent to the road, where I suspect buried Limestone chippings provide localised base enrichment in a square otherwise dominated by calcifuge species.

C.connivens growing in Trichophorum tussock, the main associates 
being Hyp.jut., Cal.fis,, Cep.bic., Mni.hor. & Cam.pyr. 

Sphagnum compactum
Straminergon stramineum growing
through mounds of Sphagnum subnitens
I did eventually find some Ceratodon...

Bits and pieces

On Friday I spent a couple of hours tying up some loose ends. First port of call was the Ty-du arable field (ST103800), where Sam and Julian found immature Phaeoceros thalli in late September. These had matured in the intervening weeks; strangely, all those I found (and there were lots of them) were male, indicating they were the dioecious species P. laevis (photo below left). As in September, Anthoceros thalli were also in evidence (photo below right) and I managed to find some male organs to confirm them as A. agrestis (though I think Sam had already done this).

I was surprised by the abundance of Fossombronia, a genus I've not seen in other arable fields locally.  The sporophytes were immature but after a few days ripening at home I was able to extract spores enabling identification as F. pusilla.

Next stop was the roadside limestone outcrops in Pentyrch, with my hopes high after Barry's recent find of Weissia sterilis in Julian's nearby garden. Although 16 calcicoles were recorded there was no Weissia among them. The best record was probably Brachythecium glareosum.

Finally, 45 minutes were spent in Efail Isaf making a start on ST08X. Among the 36 species recorded were Pleuridium subulatum and Fossombronia pusilla on soil in the village allotments.

An enjoyable two hours despite the hail showers!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

A thatch moss

A family visit to St Fagans today left the bryologist in me frustrated at the inaccessiblity of the mossy thatch which covers many of the buildings. Even the eves were out of arm's reach, but beneath one building I was lucky enough to find a small fragment of rotten thatch that had fallen from the roof above.

Much to my surprise, this was covered in what I think has to be Bryum moravicum (with just a little B. argenteum for company). Branched, filamentous, slightly papillose brown gemmae were abundant in the lower and mid leaf axils.

B. moravicum isn't mentioned as occurring on thatch in any of my books, though known substrates include rotten wood as well as living bark. My (incomplete) copy of the VC41 database doesn't list any records since 1993, but I'll await Barry's confirmation of its current Glamorgan status.

Update - a few more photos added below. Gemmae were present on several of the shoots, but by no means all of them.

...more of the same, but this time with a microscope

Hannah had the pleasure of going back to Porthkerry today to photograph Southbya (without disturbing it) with my new portable 'DinoLite' USB microscope. With laptop packed we set off, and arriving at Porthkerry we were greeted by a large flood, over topping of the Nant Talwg and the Whitelands Brook into the low lying area of the golf course.  Once we had navigated the flood waters we made it to the beach. The heavy rain from the last few days had manifested itself into mini water falls on the cliff. There was evidence of fresh cliff fall. The section with Southbya was relatively dry and in contrast to the section of cliff next to it which was pouring with water (and has no Southbya) suggests it likes it damp but not too wet. I've used the DinoLite in the office and it works well with dry things, it has internal LED lighting which is useful. However water on the damp cliff created a big reflection, and even when I turned the lights off it wasn't great. It was also a two person job, one holding the microscope and the other the laptop. I also had to tweek the images afterwards. So my conclusion is that its not great for photographing anything where water is involved and even after this attempt they are not as good as Barry's images...maybe ill write to Santa and ask for a good camera.
flooded mini golf course at Porthkerry (view towards the sea)
Laptop and digital microscope (with Southbya location in background) 

In other 'moss news' myself and Jon Graham start a small project for Natural England looking at Tufa springs in Gloucestershire, so feel free to chip in if you know any great sites. We have also started to prepare a paper based on our two winters of fieldwork looking at the chemical micro-habitats of Scorpidum in Wales.  That should keep me out of trouble. 

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Mynydd Lliw

SN599019, the search restricted to the yellow areas
At just over 40m a.s.l., Mynydd Lliw is hardy mountainous, nor is it very natural, most of the substrate comprising restored colliery spoil. I've done very little bryologising this week, so I took Alfie out for an hour this afternoon to a part of this site I've not been to before - an area that looked interesting on the aerial images. Following today's downpours, the mosses were luxuriant and it turned out that the brown areas on the aerials were concrete bases dominated by a deep cushion of Didymodon ferrugineus, with some patches of cf. D. rigidulus (both species shown together below).

Of the 26 species noted growing on a thin crust of detritus over the concrete, others of interest included - in decreasing abundance - Trichostumum crispulum, Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens, Calliergonella lindbergii, Riccia glauca, R. sorocarpa and Tortula modica.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Garden bryo query

Continuing the recent garden bryo theme...the pale green moss in the photo below turned up in a planter in our garden a couple of years ago. I didn't get around to taking a sample, and soon after the stems collapsed and the plant died.

The colour is a pretty good likeness to how it appeared in life, so I think it must be Pohlia wahlenbergii - but I'd appreciate confirmation, if possible, as I've not seen this moss elsewhere in urban Cardiff. As the photo below shows, it was growing in a soggy, neglected  planter (with no drainage). The only close associate was Bryum capillare.



Monday, 14 November 2016

Pylaisia at last

Going through some samples collected from a visit to Creigiau at the weekend, I wondered to myself 'why did I bring that Hypnum home?'. Then I looked at the capsules and realised it was Pylaisia polyantha. In the field I hadn't bothered to look properly at the capsules (and hadn't noticed there were several generations of capsules present), but I guess something about it looked different from typical Hypnum.

The habitat was a willow trunk in wet woodland at ST076812 - only about 3km north-west of where Sam found it recently in similar habitat (at Ty-du SSSI), but in a different 10km square. It is likely that I've overlooked other populations of this moss in south-east Glamorgan.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Rhymney Riverbank revisited

On Friday I returned to the arable field by the Rhymney (ST2282) to collect hornwort samples for Cambridge University Botanic Garden. After bagging up some nice rosettes of both Anthoceros and Phaeoceros, I continued along the riverbank path to an area of woodland (just north of the M4). This resulted in an additional 16 species for the VC41 part of this tetrad (taking the total to 74 taxa), with minor highlights being a 20x10cm patch of Neckera pumila on a riverbank alder and a small patch of Pseudephemerum nitidum on the root plate of a fallen tree (a drier situation than I imagined for this species, see photo).

Back home, I was relieved to finally locate some male organs on the Anthoceros thalli, the dimensions of which confirmed these as A. agrestis.

Valley Wood, Penllergaer

I deliberately left my hand-lens at home today, so no bryophytes were recorded during a pleasantly warm walk in the woods. I did however note some lovely drapes of Usea articulatus on several branches of a large oak at SS62739867. I've walked past this tree plenty times before and I can't believe it's taken me this long to notice the Usnea. Photo taken from the main path on the west side of the river, the tree being on the east side, should anyone be interested in viewing it.

Rhodobryum roseum at Kenfig

During a Glamorgan Fungus Group meeting on Saturday I came across a pretty big patch of Rhodobryum roseum in dune grassland at Kenfig NNR.  There were several hundred rosettes within about 2 square metres (far more than I've ever seen before) so I thought it was definitely worth a pause from the fungi to note the grid reference (SS7885681600) in case it's a new patch.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Porella pinnata

After completing some domestic chores in Brecon last Saturday Mrs M and I went for a quick walk along the Ghurka Way upstream of the town – we came across a large boulder covered mainly with Anomodon, but just above the water line (on the downstream side just like it says in the Field Guide) was a dark green patch, which I guessed could be Porella pinnata (I didn’t have a lens with me, but even through my rubbish eyes it looked interesting and different to Chiloscyphus) – I eventually got around to putting a stem under the microscope this morning so I could take a pic of the rounded under-leaves and small non-decurrent lobules.

Away from the west, most other records in southern half of Wales are from the River Wye (aka the River Wue according to one LRC record). This appears to be the first record of Porella pinnata from the River Usk – it may well be genuinely scarce along the Usk itself as there have been several lower plant surveys by experienced bryologists along suitable parts of the river. Perhaps some Usk tributaries, such as the Ysgir, which seem much less explored, have undiscovered populations of this liverwort.