Thursday, 29 December 2016

End of year square-bash at Rhosaman

An afternoon square-bash in SN71G took the square total from 5 to 83. I spent most time searching an area of colliery spoil which produced 63 species directly on spoil; nothing exciting, those of general interest included Aneura pinguis, Archidium alternifolium, Aulacomnium palustre (unusually plants were scattered over a steep dry bank with a broken sward), Calliergonella lindbergii, Gymnostomum aeruginosum, Racomitrium ericoides, R. fasciculare, R. lanuginosum, Riccardia multifida, Sciuro-hypnum plumosum (surprisingly frequent on shaley ground). Despite a decent return I was disappointed not to find any Ptilidium, nor any Weissia or Fossombronia spp. to name but a few I was anticipating.  I didn’t have time to walk the wooded banks of the Aman, which could well have taken the square total over 100 ... another day perhaps!  I did manage to take a very quick look in the river by the footbridge, where Hygrohypnum ochraceum covered the larger rocks along with a little Marchantia polymorpha subsp. polymorpha. This may have been my last bryophyte outing in what’s been another very enjoyable year of recording. Best wishes to all for the year ahead...
PS. If anyone can put a name to the brown lichen I’d be interested to know.
 Racomitrium ericoides-Cladonia portentosa spoil community
  Sciuro-hypnum plumosum 
  Aulacomnium palustre
  Lophozia ventricosa 
  unidentified lichen
 Hygrohypnum ochraceum

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Usnea articulata heading ever further east

A family walk up the Sugarloaf, above Abergavenny on 27th, produced a single medium-sized tuft of Usnea articulata (Sausage Beard-lichen) in its typical windy Hawthorn habitat.  This was on one of the few Hawthorns we walked past, and there were several other suspicious-looking grey patches in more distant bushes.  I have been waiting for the first Monmouthshire record of this species as it romps eastwards from its former range in Pembrokeshire and Gower, and my anticipation was heightened by George's find in easternmost Radnorshire this summer and an NRW colleague's record at Craig y Cilau NNR a few weeks ago.  My colony was at SO27181666, just above the eastern carpark, but I'm sure there are more to be found here and elsewhere in north-western VC35.

The general consensus is that Usnea articulata declined catastrophically in Wales because of Sulphur Dioxide pollution, to remnant colonies in Pembrokeshire and a couple of dune sites in Glamorgan (plus an outlier in Ceredigion).  With declines in SO2 pollution, this highly distinctive lichen has spread north-east and east, with over 100 new colonies discovered in south Wales, especially in Carmarthenshire and the southern Brecon Beacons.  Of course, some of these colonies may have been present for years, missed because of the paucity of local lichenologists, but many of them have been spotted from roads and are so obvious that general naturalists would surely have reported them.  Windy Hawthorns are favoured, but the Usnea also grows in the top of Oaks (see Barry's Penllergaer record on the Blog), in willows in wetlands (see Charles' record from Jersey Marine), and on Larch.

Wisley Wonderland

During a visit to Wisley Royal Horticultural Society Garden during a pre-Christmas family get-together, we came across a wall constructed from lumps of tufa outside the alpine greenhouses. The range of calcicoles (clearly long-established) was quite impressive and I was surprised to see a few species outside of their normal range, e.g. Preissia quadrata, Tortella tortuosa and Leicolea badensis which I guess will have been introduced with the rock. Several of the more interesting species of these aren't shown on the NBN and Preissia appears to be unrecorded in Surrey. Whilst this is a largely introduced community, those species that are thriving would seem worthy of documenting.

Mellte bits and pieces

Also seen during yesterday's visit to the valley Plagiochila killarniensis (bifaria) in association with Bartramia pomiformis by the cliff path above Sgwd Clun Gwyn Isaf.
Barbilophozia attenuata and Zygodon rupestris on oak, plus Sanionia uncinata on a log below Sgwd y Pannwr.

Festive Foel Fawr

A Christmas Day spin over Mynydd Du to take in a bit of fresh air included a brief stop by the ultra-basic flushes below Clogau Mawr SN725194. Species of interest included Palustriella falcata, which was dominant over large areas, with plenty cushions of Hymenostylium recurvirostrum hosting a range of other species such as Aneura pinguis, Jungermannia atrovirens and Anagallis tenella.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Daltonia twitch

Once I'd relocated the log on which Sam found the Daltonia last week, using the photo to locate the positions of tufts was a straight forward affair, although they were quite a bit smaller than expected, so detail was very helpful. Arriving early meant globules of water were enveloping everything (blown away in photos), but the lids of the capsules of this pretty little moss still glistened like gold and I was very pleased to see this special feature. In addition to the tufts highlighted by Sam, I noted an addition four fruiting tufts immediately to the right of the log lying on the main log, as viewed in Sam's context shot. My context shot, taken from the other side of the log, shows the locations of these additional tufts, with the camera in-shot positioned on the single left-hand tuft shown in Sam's photo.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Well I wasn't expecting that!

Actually, to be honest I was secretly hoping that Santa might bring me some Daltonia splachnoides during one of my days in Coedydd Nedd a Mellte, but the first couple of hours today were so dull I was really shocked to see the pretty little fringed calyptrae poking out from a log covered in Scapania nemorea.  The location - well up the Mellte valleyside between Sgwd Isaf Clun-gwyn and Sgwd y Pannwr - was hardly classic for Hyperoceanic species, but I'm not complaining!  This is the 4th Welsh record of this UKBAP/Section 7 moss, following three on Salix in conifer plantations in Brechfa Forest, near Llyn Brianne and near Llanwonno in the Glamorgan valleys.  It was new for Breconshire, although the Llyn Brianne colony was only a stone's throw into Carmarthenshire.  The general theory is that this Hyperoceanic moss is a spore-vagrant from Ireland, following Colura but more ecologically demanding.  Its presence in Coedydd Nedd a Mellte SAC raises the unanswerable question of how many other Hyperoceanic rarities in the SAC are relatively recent arrivals and how many are relicts; it is notable, though, that Aphanolejeunea and Drepanolejeunea are only on riverside (mostly cascade-side) trees, so even if they are recent arrivals they have found their way to classic oceanic woodland micro-niches.

This was certainly the highlight of my day in the central Mellte, but some lovely patches of Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia on a classic riverside Ash tree below Sgwd y Pannwr, new for the Mellte, came a close second.

Otherwise, the west bank of the Mellte was good but predictable: Anastrophyllum hellerianum in a few places (only on 4 or 5 trees); equally scattered Jamesoniella autumnalis (on perhaps 15 logs & trees); Cephalozia catenulata, Lophozia incisa and Odontoschisma denudatum on logs in a side valley; one small colony of Plagiochila spinulosa; and a few tufts of Colura on riverside Hazel.  Abundant Zygodon rupestris with a few sporophytes was perhaps the biggest surprise, growing on trees in the mist zone of Sgwd Isaf Clun-gwyn.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Swansea main line slag walls revisited

'railway hepatic mat'
Scapania compacta
I was back at Llwynbrwydrau today, so before going on site I went down to Llansamlet railway station to see if the slag wall did, as suspected, extend all the way along this section.  Sure enough at the east end of the platform I could see the wall was continued to this more western location (which also happens to be in the next tetrad to the west) and I took the opportunity to take a sneaky look at the first 10m (or so). A less hurried search produced more hepatics, with the following noted growing on or between the slag blocks:
Cephalozia bicuspidata (r)
Cephaloziella stellulifera (only seen at eastern location)
Diplophyllum albicans (o)
Gymnocolea inflata (r)
Lophocolea bidentata (o)
Nardia scalaris (f)
Scapania compacta (o)
Solenostoma gracillimum (o-lf)
Solenostoma hyalinum (o)
Mosses were more prominent on the peaty soil on top of and behind the retaining wall, though there was nothing of any real note other than fruiting Hypnum jutlandicum. Unfortunately no real metallophyte assemblage, so no realistic Scopelophia potential in this section, but I live in hope...
Hypnum jutlandicum in fruit

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Glynhir waterfalls

I was hoping to have a bit longer, but only managed to snatch a 30 minute search of the waterfalls before enjoying the PryceEco Christmas dinner  at Glynhir. I focussed on the area immediately downstream of the main waterfall on the Loughor SN64151514 and took a very brief look at the smaller side falls. Species noted of interest included Conocephalum salebrosum, Fissidens bryoides var. caespitans, F. rufulus (photos 6-7, frequent on submerged slabs downstream of large boulder shown in photo 1), Gymnostomum aeruginosum, Heterocladium heteropterum var. flaccidum, Jubula hutchinsiae (~5sqm colony at photos 2 & 3), Palustriella commutata, Rhynchostegiella teneriffae, Trichostomum tenuirostre  and Trichomanes speciosum gemetophyte. A site definitely worthy of a more diligent search.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Cwm Dulais (Pontarddulais)

This afternoon I spent 40 mins of Alfie-time looking at a small part of what is a much wider area of south-facing coal spoil in Cwm Dulais SN613036 - how many Cwm Dulais's must there be in Wales! An unremarkable total of 31 bryos were recorded, along with what I'm suspecting must be Galium parisiense, which was locally frequent. I'm not sure if G. parisiense has been recorded on coal spoil before, but it's clearly well adapted to it and would be worth checking for on other tips. Bryologiocally, there was nothing of great note, but it was an interesting assemblage all the same, with frequent Archidium alternifolium (photo 3), Homalothecium lutescens, Hypnum cupressiforme var. lacunosum (photos 3-4) and occasional Calliergonella lindbergii, Didymodon ferrugineus, Syntrichia ruralis var. ruraliformis (photo 4) & Trichostomum crispulum. Nearby, Fontinalis antipyretica and F. squamosa were noted growing side-by-side in the river.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Solenostoma struggle

When I saw this I assumed it was gracillimum, but it seemed to lack thickened leaf margins and attenuated shoots and just looked a bit different, so I collected a bit to check. Using Paton it tenuously keyed out as hyalinum - I'm not sure how convincing the bracts on the perianth are as a feature as gracillimum can show this to a degree it seems, but the presence of purple rhizoids is said to rule it out. I'm not terribly convinced this is hyalinum but as it would be new for the county I'd be grateful for any comments.

The habitat was the north-facing retaining wall (slag & sandstone) along the railway in the north of Swansea at Llwynbrwydrau (SS70039752). Most patches were growing on their own, but occasional associates included Pohlia nutans, Ceratodon purpureus, Cephaloziella stellulifera (photo below), Brachytheciastrum velutinum & Bryum sp. There must be a substantial population as I suspect this wall extends a long way east and west. This was a sneaky quick peak at a 5m section by my crossing point and it begs the question could the railway sections using slag be a potential habitat for Scopelophila?