Thursday, 19 January 2017

Upper Mellte - no surprises except a tame Robin

Another day in the Waterfalls - this time searching the Sgwd Clun-gwyn and Sgwd Isaf Clun-gwyn areas of the Mellte.  The morning was pretty slow, with a few colonies of Anastrophyllum hellerianum on Oaks about the sum total of interest.  We searched a lot of mist-zone Ash trees on the west bank below Sgwd Clun-gwyn, but despite an abundance of Lejeunea cavifolia they held none of its smaller relatives.  I wonder whether the river flows are perhaps not constant enough because of the reservoir upstream - something to investigate.  Eventually we crossed to the east bank and followed a gorge-walkers' path back down to the riverside, where Graham spotted a small patch of Drepanolejeunea on an Ash.  This was well downstream of the main-river waterfall, but was clearly associated with a cascading side stream.

Graham photographing the Drepanolejeunea, and the result he got

Progress downstream towards Sgwd Isaf Clun-gwyn was notable only for the paucity of notable bryophytes, although we did manage to locate some Colura in a gorse thicket.  At last we reached the Millstone Grit scree between Sgwd Isaf Clun-gwyn and Sgwd y Pannwr, and our luck changed.  Almost immediately we located Lepidozia cupressina, and not just a little bit: great mounds, with the largest covering over a square metre!  Graham found this population a few years ago, but only at its southern end, and today's visit allowed us to fully appreciate its extent: L. cupressina was frequent to abundant through a 100x40m area, with records from 17 different 8-figure GPS squares.

All of the bryophyte cover on the rocks and tree base in the left photo is L. cupressina!

I found a particularly photogenic patch of Lepidozia and tried to photograph it.  In flew a curious Robin, which landed on the Lepidozia and even ate a scrap of cheese from my finger.  This perky little character is clearly used to tourists, and followed us around for nearly half an hour.

The scree woodland also held a few patches of Jamesoniella autumnalis - the only time we saw it during the day - as well as several colonies of Plagiochila punctata.  Speculative collections of potential Hylocomium umbratum and Hypnum callichroum will be investigated fully tomorrow.

Large Jamesoniella autumnalis with red leaves, which had me hoping for Mylia, and potential Hylocomium umbratum (which is probably just H. brevirostre)


  1. I wonder if you're the only person in the world to have photographed a robin stood on Lepidozia cupressina.

    That really is a magnificent patch of Lepidozia!

  2. We also had a ludicrously tame Robin, which we fed crumbs of cheese, but a little bit further down the valley. I think the most exciting thing that one perched on was Diplophyllum!

  3. Neither of my speculative collections were correct: funny saxicolous H andoi with oddly long setae (or H callichroum without a hyalodermis) and smallish Loeskeobryum brevirostre.