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.


  1. Fantastic find, you must have been beaming and not a bit of tinsel in sight! I suspect Charles and myself may want to share your early present over the festive period.

  2. Great stuff Sam, the species list for the waterfall valleys is now simply out-of-sight. Lovely photo of those cute Daltonia capsules too. I've looked out for it on willows at the edges of Sitka plantations in NPT ever since you mentioned it to me a couple of years ago. It's out there somewhere!

  3. What a lovely moss, one I'd love to find (the Llanwonno record gives me hope even here in the east).

  4. Look for Daltonia deep in plantations, in the most humid areas you can find. The three locations where I had seen it prior to yesterday were where a stream ran through a gently sloping area of willows totally surrounded by tall Spruce. It's unlikely to be on the edge of a track, although I'd be glad to be proved wrong. In Ireland it is slightly less picky, and I've seen it on the edge of plantations and even on a roadside Sycamore (in the far west), see http://rbg-web2.rbge.org.uk/bbs/activities/field%20bryology/FB100/FB100%20Bosanquet.pdf. Maybe the ultra-high rainfall area around Craig y Llyn is the place to look.