Monday, 27 February 2017

Ulota calvescens near Monmouth

I stopped briefly at Dixton Embankment LNR on my way back from the school run and spotted a single tuft of Ulota calvescens.  This is, at long last, the first record of this spreading species for VC35.  Perhaps surprisingly, it was less than 50m from the eastern boundary of Monmouthshire, despite U. calvescens being a hyperoceanic moss.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

An odd place for a Racomitrium

On a previous visit to my parents' house in Kendal (VC69) I took a sample of an odd-looking moss from a wooden fence which borders a park opposite their garden (50m asl). Some time later I checked it microscopically and was surprised to find it was a Racomitrium, but was unable to confirm which species and hadn't taken a photo of it in situ.

Last week I was back in Kendal and had another look - the moss was still there; in fact there were two patches growing a few metres apart. Judging by the sprawling growth I think it must be R. fasciculare. I can't find any references to this species growing on wood. Has anyone else seen it in similar situations?

Crawley Bluff

view east over Nicholaston dunes from the mid-cliff path
It was nice to get out in the sunshine on Friday given the weather we've had recently and look for some reptiles - Adders, Viviparous and Wall Lizards were all tempted out by the brief spell of warm weather. A little casual mossing added three species to the well-worked SS58D, taking it on to 169. The only interesting species of the three was Schistidium elegantulum, with four tufts noted in two locations on rocks alongside the mid-cliff of the bluff. In a soil pocket alongside one of the clumps were a few patches of the distinctive Toninia sedifolia. I did keep an eye open for Rhodobryum, as there is a historical record for this section of cliff, but to no avail.
large tuft of S. elegantulum
3 scrappy tufts of S. elegantulum & T. sedifolia
cliff section with 3 scrappy tufts

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Upper Ogwr

This inviting gully, which is accessed from the hairpin bend on the A4061 near Craig Ogwr, has been on our list for some time. So late yesterday afternoon H and I climbed up along the stream towards the sandstone outcrop. The wet gully rocks had lots of Hyocomium armoricum and Racomitrium aciculare and small amounts of Marsupella emarginata while Andreaea rothii ssp. falcataRacomitrium fasciculare and R. lanuginosa were on dry, exposed boulders and scree. Small patches of Bartramia pomiformis,  Gymnostomum aeruginosum and Saccogyna viticulosus occurred with typical mounds of Amphidium mougeotii on the outcrop, which was otherwise a bit disappointing. I have often looked for Tritomaria quinquedentata in Glamorgan in places like this, and especially at Craig y Llyn where Roy recorded it in the 1970s, without any success. Yesterday, I thought we had found it on the rocks at the top of the gully below the waterfall. Alas, I was blinded by expectation; it was Barbilophozia floerkei (Common Pawwort), which is found in similar places elsewhere in Glamorgan and is not unexpected in upper Ogwr. Nevertheless this subarctic-alpine liverwort is not common in south Wales until you get to the north-western parts of Breconshire and its occurrence in this gully adds a nice dot to its current VC41 distribution map.

 Barbilophozia floerkii, Hairpin Bend Gully

Interestingly, Tony Smith recorded  B. barbata on nearby Craig Ogwr over 50 years ago (NB specimens from the gully had well developed cilia at base of leaves).

Cilia at base of Barbilophozia floerkei leaf

Barbilophozia floerkei underleaf

The new total for this tetrad (SS99H) is 90. There's plenty more to explore.

View of Upper Ogwr the from top of Hairpin Bend Gully

Cwm Marydd - the best of Brechfa

Less than 10 minutes' drive from Cwnc y Llwyn is the steep-sided valley of Cwm Marydd (SN5031).  It doesn't look like much on OS maps or aerial photos, but very steep sides, rock outcrops, a series of cascades, relatively old Oak & Ash, and even a mine adit (not marked on any map I've seen) make it a perfect site for bryophytes.  The bryophyte species list stands at 120, and includes Tritomaria exsecta at its only recorded site in VC44, Cephalozia catenulata, Plagiochila exigua, P. punctata, P. spinulosa, Jubula hutchinsiae and Platyhypnidium alopecuroides.  I have visited on 6 occasions before, and spent an hour there this afternoon to stretch my legs during Half Term.

Highlight was locating two trees with Plagiochila exigua alongside a waterfall at SN50383202 and SN50363199: finally getting GPS readings for this, the only known population in Brechfa Forest.  Alongside both were patches of a toothier Plagiochila with scarcely decurrent leaves that I assume is P. punctata, although its non-deciduous leaves and brown colour make me a little suspicious and I need to investigate further [I did and it still looked odd, but I'm certain it's P. punctata, with the non-papillose cuticle ruling out the far-fetched Macaronesian P. stricta].  A lot of staring at Lejeuneaceae failed to reveal anything notable, which was a surprise.

Plagiochila exigua
Interesting Plagiochila punctata with slightly decurrent leaf bases, a brown colouration like P. bifaria, and non-deciduous leaves

Two nice lichens were also present: the pink-fruited Mycobilimbia pilularis (spores checked today) was on an old Ash alongside P. exigua, and the tiny Graphina pauciloculata grew with G. ruiziana on a Hazel (microscope checking needed).  Three patches of a large lichen in the canopy of the Ash need a revisit with a telescope...

Friday, 17 February 2017

Porella arboris-vitae revisited

I was working on Old Castle Down this morning, and couldn't resist a quick stop to admire the fine patch of Porella arboris-vitae which grows on a lump of limestone here (spot the Mottled Grey resting on the same rock).
I was pleased to find a couple of additional patches of the Porella on adjacent rocks (highlighted in photo below - the original patch is on the right). Somehow I'd missed these on previous visits.

I also checked a nearby limestone wall, but although it was wonderfully mossy, including big sheets of Porella platyphylla, I couldn't find any more arboris-vitae.

Margam sidings

Also known as 'Kenfig marshalling yards', this area is now a stunning brown-field slack full of  goodies.
The 'railway fen' always seems to provide something new each time I visit and a small patch of Pseudocalliergon lycopodioides at SS7913483514 provided the highlight of yesterday's visit. Whilst Calliergonella cuspidata was largely dominant, there's also a lot of Drepanocladus polygamus and D. aduncus in the flooded areas along with a wide range of interesting vascular plants and charophytes; those noted yesterday included Chara virgata, Equisetum variegatum (a), Pyrola rotundifolia subsp. maritima (lf), Cladium mariscus (o-lf) Juncus acutus (lf), J. subnodulosus (la), and Scirpoides holoschoenus. Not too shabby for an area of abandoned industrial land!
L: P. lycopodioides, R: Location shown by plastic box
 L: Equisetum variegatum, R: Scirpoides holoschoenus
L: Chara virgata, R: Cladium mariscus
Leaves of P. lycopodioides, D. aduncus & D polygamus
The drier gravelly sidings also provided a little interest with some nice carpets of Amblystegium serpens var. salinum growing alongside species such as Rhynchostegium megapolitanum, Bryoerythrophyllum recurvirostrum and rather oddly Neckera complanata on open flat ground. A 'golden road' of Schistidium crasspilum was a fine spectacle as the sun started to break through.
 L: Neckera complanataR: Location shown by knife
 L: Schistidium crassipilum, R: Amblystegium serpens var. salinum
My route

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Searching high and low

We had a family walk on Carn Goch, near Bethlehem today.  Despite searching high and low I didn't spot many bryophytes, although the lichen Usnea articulata was new for the site (I think).  Indeed, most of my photos today were of lichens, the rest of which await ID.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Wern Ddu (again) and Rudry

I made a trip to Wern-ddu yesterday to have a look for that bluetail, but on arrival there was already quite a crowd of assembled birders - some of whom cheerfully told me that they'd been there for several hours without seeing it. I lack the patience for that kind of thing, so quickly left to check out the much more easily twitched Fissidens limbatus found by Barry a few days earlier (thanks Barry...and you weren't exaggerating when you said it was tiny).
Fissidens limbatus
On the way there was a tempting pile of limestone rubble and spoil from past quarrying at Cefn Onn, which held plenty of (putative!) Leiocolea badensis and some more tiny Fissidens which will probably prove to be limbatus. A rotten log was covered in Nowellia, which might be new for ST18. As Barry mentioned, this north-facing slope is very mossy indeed and will surely reward a more thorough survey.
Probable Leiocolea badensis
Nowellia curvifolia
My main aim of the day was to look for Leptodontium flexifolium at Rudry Common, found here by  Roy Perry in 1974. I'm pleased to report that it is still grows here 43 years on!
Leptodontium flexifolium
Leptodontium flexifolium with deciduous stubby leaves at shoot tips

Leptodontium flexifolium habitat
It proved to be quite frequent on thin peaty soil around sandstone outcrops, mostly growing under slight overhangs. The main associate was Ceratodon purpureus (the overwhemingly dominant bryophyte here) with smaller quantities of Polytrichum piliferum and Campylopus introflexus. It looks like the whole site gets burnt regularly, which perhaps aids the persistence of the Leptodontium. This tetrad (ST18Y) should now be over 60 species.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Clyne Common pit stop

Not quite Telaranea europaea, but fruiting Oxyrrhynchium hians was new for me today - on a soil bank under scrub on the edge of Clyne Common, Swansea. I can see George recorded fruiting plants last year and Sam has two records from Pembs, but it's not listed as having been recorded fruiting in Carms, so it's clearly not that common an occurrence.
...saving T. europaea for next week...

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Well done Team!

I'm just finalising the 2016 Liverwort Year stats, and VC41 came =3rd in terms of the number of new (and debracketted) vice-county liverwort records made in 2016 with 6.  You/we were only beaten by Tyrone and East Donegal, which were visited by the BBS Summer Meeting, and Glamorgan drew with West Gloucestershire.  Breconshire came =6th with 3 NVCRs, beaten only by those four VCs and Ayrshire.  Of course, we could have had Phaeoceros carolinianus if the colony hadn't been steadfastly non-fertile until January 2017!

My top liverwort tips for 2017 NVCRs in Glamorgan or Brecon
are Telaranea europaea (above) or Cephalozia crassifolia...

Wernddu revisited

Well this time the Red-flanked Bluetail gave itself up readily and on our circuit back to the car I stopped briefly at what looked like the remains of an old lime kiln. Amongst some fruiting Leiocolea turbinata was the tiny Fissidens crispus (=limbatus). NB smallest tick marks below = 1μm and note protruberant cells.