Saturday, 10 December 2016

Misty Maerdy

On Monday I spent an enjoyable foggy day on the colliery spoil at Maerdy with a few other recorders. Emma Williams organised the outing and I was happy to explore a new area, especially as  Peter Sturgess and Karen Wilkinson were there to help with the bryos.
Part of the site had been looked at by Roy Perry in 2005, whose 64 bryophyte records were pretty much the only ones for tetrad SS99U. Peter Sturgess also did a botanical survey of the site in the same year, and was amazed how much the site has changed in the intervening 11 years. Peter remembered areas of sparsely-vegetated, flushed spoil with plety of Encalypta streptocarpa - a species we failed to find this time round. The flushes are now dominated by vascular plants and bulky pleurocarps. Willow scrub had established itself in some areas and Peter was surprised to see Rhytidiadelphus loreus - conspicuous on Monday but not recorded back in 2005.

We identified a good range of bryophyte species in the field, and I took quite a lot of samples home (which amounted to four evenings-worth of microscope work)...eventually the list for the day crept up to 96 bryophyte taxa. Roy recorded around 20 species which we didn't, and Peter has made a few records independently, so the tetrad total is now around 120.
The highlight for me was a nice cushion of Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens on the side of a concrete drain (photo below - thanks to Barry for the recent field pointers on this one). There was nothing else of special note, but species I don't see very often included Hygrohypnum luridum (on concrete), H. ochraceum (in the Rhondda-fach), Schistidum platyphyllum (photo - abundant on rocks in the river, also recorded on Roy Perry's 2005 visit), Colura calyptrifolia (on young willow), Scapania gracilis (acidic crags), S. nemorea, Archidium alternifolium (photo - a couple of straggly patches on spoil), Calliergonella lindbergii (spoil), Straminergon stramineum (flush), Ptychomitrium polyphyllum and Racomitrium fasciculare (in an old quarry). To cap the day off nicely, Rei (Barbara) Brown found a nice specimen of Usnea articulata on larch.


  1. Well done George, Peter and Karen - that sounds like a great day's bryology and I'm really impressed at your total (and tenacity with the microscope and a lot of unfamiliar species).

    Please can you email my NRW address with details of the Usnea, for the species register I'm working on: Usnea articulata in the Rhondda Fach is amazing, and would have been unthinkable 30 years ago!

  2. Well done spotting the Bryoerythrophyllum, now you've got your eye in I'm sure you'll come across it every now and then. Did you manage to I'd the Bryum growing with it?
    That's a very good total for that square now. I'm also finding there's merit in revisiting squares, as not only do you pick up new species, but as you found out, it's interesting to see how much some sites do change. I guess a bashed square is never truly 'done'.

  3. Thanks both. Yes, a good total now for SS99U - but the eight tetrads adjoining that one have a maximum total of 18 taxa, so there's lots to be done up there. I certainly plan to return (we did talk about having a group outing in that area once...).

    The total doesn't even include Bryum argenteum or dichotomum as by the time we got back to the tarmac by the cars it was dark!

    Barry - forgot to mention the Bryum growing with the Bryoerythrophyllum. I think it's just B capillare.

    Sam - will email re the Usnea.