Wednesday 4 May 2022

White Tip, Merthyr Tydfil

I was passing Merthyr's 'White Tip' yesterday and couldn't resist spending an hour and a bit to look for the Riccia beyrichiana found last winter. I managed to find good numbers of plants between SO03590721 & SO03560723, which although past their best were recognisable (photos 2 & 3). To illustrate the community, the following species were all direct associates recorded within a 50cm quadrat: Aphanes arvensis, Archidium alternifolium, Arenaria serpyllifolia agg., Bryum dichotomum, Cephaloziella divaricata, Cladonia rangiformis, Danthonia decumbens, Erophila majuscula, Festuca ovina, Fragaria vesca, Hieracium agg., Hypnum cupressiforme var. lacunosum, Linum catharticum, Lotus corniculatus, Luzula campestris, Peltigera canina, Pilosella officinarum, Plantago lanceolata, Poa annua, Prunella vulgaris, Pseudocrossidium hornschuchianum, Racomitrium ericoides, Racomitrium lanuginosum, Saxifraga tridactylites, Senecio jacobaea, Streblotrichum convolutum var. convolutum, Taraxacum sp., Thymus polytrichus, Tortella inclinata, Trichodon cylindricus & Trifolium dubium

 Additional bryos represented in this odd assemblage, with its muddled mix of calcicoles and calcifuges, included Bryum pallens, Campylium protensum, Didymodon tophaceus, Flexitrichum gracile, Gymnostomum aeruginosum, Lophozia excisa, Pseudocrossidium revolutum (photo 4) & Solenostoma gracillimum

However, it was the abundance of Tortella inclinata that was particularly notable at the site (dominant species in photo 1). This is a species that seems to be particularly well adapted to furnace slag (photo 4) and several sites in Glamorgan support huge populations of this Nationally Scarce species. Without question, brownfield sites are a stronghold in our area. It was interesting to see it growing with Racomitrium lanuginosum, both species being locally abundant here.

Friday 11 March 2022

A group outing to Barry Sidings

During one of the Covid lockdowns (I forget which) I set up a Glamorgan Bryophytes Facebook group, with the intention of encouraging more widespread recording in the county, particularly in the east, while we were unable to travel far from home. It has been pretty successful, with 65 people having become group members and many of them now submitting records via SEWBReCORD. 

I'd promised to run an informal recording session some time ago, and this finally came to fruition last Sunday (6th March) with an afternoon outing to Barry Sidings (in RCT, not Barry). The site is situated on the north-facing side of the lower Rhondda valley, being mainly conifer plantation with numerous small streams.

Six people came along and all professed to have enjoyed it by the end (I hope they weren't just being polite). It was great to have Peter Sturgess along to help field the many queries, and as an extra pair of eyes.

Predictably we took forever to get out of the car park, which had a nice north-facing retaining wall that held a good range of common species.

Photo: Caroline O'Rourke

We then progressed up the hillside, following a small stream that had some Palustriella commutata growing in it, and plentiful Hookeria alongside which was admired by all.

Hookeria lucens
The highlight for me was a shoot of Plagiomnium undulatum with four sporophytes sprouting from it; the last time I saw this species fruiting was 10 years ago.

Fruiting Plagiomnium undulatum
The bryophytes were rather upstaged, though, by a patch of Cornish Moneywort Sibthorpia europaea spotted by the sharp eyes of Peter Sturgess.

Cornish Moneywort
We recorded 69 bryo species in total, all in tetrad ST09K which had only two previous records. Hopefully we'll hold another session before too long - and if you don't wish to join the Facebook group I can send details via email in case you fancy coming along (I know Sam and Barry were away for this one).

Wednesday 9 June 2021

Daltonia at Glyn-Castle


I spent an enjoyable and interesting day in the forestry along the Nant Clydach, near Resolven in Cwm Nedd, looking at mature willows along forest roads and streams with Hannah Shaw from NRW. We were joined by Charles for the afternoon. To my surprise I spotted a tuft of Daltonia on the first trackside willow that we checked, but after that it was slow going until mid afternoon when we descended to the Nant Clydach and located two more colonies of Daltonia, one of them holding 8 tufts. Other bryophytes seen during the day included Colura, Lejeunea cf patensZygodon conoideus and surprisingly frequent Sanionia uncinata. Notable lichens were also quite hard to find, but the riverside willows and ash held some Megalaria pulverea and a small patch of Lecanora jamesii. Thankyou to both Hannah and Charles for their company and wide-ranging discussions during the day. 

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Encalypta ciliata?

 I don't often seem to find an Encalypta with capsules, so was pleased to find one the other day on Mynydd Llangorse (well actually on the rocky outcrops on Cockit Hill; I'm not fit enough for mountains these days!). It was tucked away in a crevice on a rocky slope below the main 'cliffs'.

I think it's E. ciliata, although the calyptrae don't seem to be ciliate - but it seems to fit in other respects. Fortunately it had both old and new capsules,

Moist capsule is smooth

Peristome teeth are short and seem quite fragile

One spore looked papillose but the vast majority were ridged

The base of the calyptra from below - looks intact, not ciliate?

I'm wondering whether the new capsules are just too immature to have developed the cilia around the calyptrae. They are very young. Unless there's anything else it could be?

Sunday 9 May 2021

Heterocladium wulfsbergii at last!

 I have been religiously checking Heterocladium heteropterum specimens for months, convinced that I should be finding H. wulfsbergii. On Friday, I think I finally found it.

Last year, I explored a bit of the Pontsticill Reservoir area with Sharon Pilkington and Pete Martin and we had a couple of productive days up Cwm Callan. On Friday I decided to investigate the other side, around Cwm-Car. And in a gully just below the waterfall, there it was - covering a vertical rock face. I'm pretty sure that's what it is, but happy to be corrected if anyone disagrees.

And here is the location - just behind the camera on the right:

I'm still checking my other specimens, but so far haven't found anything else of note.

Apologies that I haven't been posting on the blog, but the website rather occupies a lot of time and I do need to get out sometimes. Will try to do more now that website work has settled down a bit.

Friday 26 March 2021

Campylophyllum calcareum at Tongwynlais

 After a visit to the Chalk Carpet moth site at South View, Tongwynlais, to look at some potential management work, I had time to grab a few bryophyte samples before heading home. There are some nice limestone outcrops here, both sunny and shaded, and a good diversity of calcicoles are present, including Campyliadelphus chrysophyllus and Gymnostomum viridulum (the latter recorded here for the firsr time on the recent visit, though it is known from elsewhere in the tetrad). 

The last of my samples, taken from a large limestone block shaded by beech trees, looked a good match for Campylophyllum calcareum, with low-growing, densely branched patches and widely-spreading, often recurved leaves only around 0.5mm long. The denticulate margins of the lower part of the leaf, lack of a nerve, and general habit gave me confidence that I'd got the ID right, but I was grateful when Sam confirmed it from some images I sent him.

This nationally scarce species is known in Glamorgan from the Garth Wood / Coed-y-bedw area, just a mile or so west of the current location, where it was recorded most recently in 1985. It's good to know it is still a Glamorgan species - and perhaps there are more locations waiting to be found in the North Cardiff beechwoods.

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Squirrel-tail mosses in Llandaff North

Last week proved to be rather an eventful one for finding scarce epiphytic mosses in urban Cardiff.

It started with a trip to my local Post Office on Gabalfa Avenue on Wednesday lunchtime. This falls within a different tetrad to my house and there were a few common species still missing from it, so I had a poke around after Post Office duties were complete. I was feeling pleased about adding Calliergonella cuspidata and Metzgeria violacea to the tetrad list, along with a few other things including Syntrichia virescens on a street lime tree (confirmed by nerve section checking). But I really wasn't expecting to find Habrodon perpusillus. A young-ish Ash tree (perhaps 25-30 years old) in amenity grassland near some houses had a swathe of Habrodon from ground level up to at least 2.5m, in a band about 10cm wide on the east side of the trunk. There were several other ashes nearby but I couldn't find any Habrodon on them.

I went back the following day and found a second tree with Habrodon around 150m away - a single patch on the west side of a lime tree growing between two of the Lydstep tower blocks and facing the rear wall of a line of garages. A more mundane location for a rare bryophyte would be hard to imagine.

 The day after I went back with the kids to look for more Habrodon trees. None were forthcoming, but I was almost as pleased to find a healthy tuft of Leucodon sciuroides on a Norway Maple street tree nearby.

On the way home we re-found a scruffier patch of Leucodon on a street lime tree. I first found this colony last summer but had been unable to relocate it until last week.
 As if this wasn't enough fun for one week, another outing with the kids at the weekend revealed another Habrodon patch - this one in a nicer setting on an Ash on the Taff riverbank.

I took small samples from each of these Habrodon trees to make sure I'd got the ID right. Most of them had abundant brown-green gemmae on the stems and leaves.

All five of these trees are within 1km of my house in suburban north Cardiff. I'd scarcely have believed Habrodon would be in such a humdrum place, but given that Sam found it near the castle in the heart of Caerphilly last year perhaps I should have been less surprised. Both of these squirrel-tail mosses remain scarce, but it is encouraging that they seem to be starting to regain some lost ground, like many other epiphytes.

Sam recently sent me details of the Habrodon colonies which Chris Forster Brown's found in 2013, at Fonmon and near Merthyr Mawr. This makes seven sites in Glamorgan with recent records, which must surely be as many as any county in the UK.