Friday, 29 December 2017

Slagtastic Loughor

After several years of failing to find Scopelophila cataractae in the Swansea Valley, I was filled with great joy today when I came across a lovely population in the Loughor Estuary at Bynea. There were many patches scattered on the two fingers of slag dumped on the saltmarsh, as indicated by the yellow areas shown above (SS558989), the dashed green line showing the Carmarthen Bay and Estuaries SAC boundary. Whilst the bulk of the material I found was technically outside the SAC (i.e. the yellow patches shown 'within' the western finger), it would seem unlikely this narrow bit of ground would ever be interfered with. Although, a small amount of freshly dumped material was noted close to where the two fingers meet, so it may be worth considering notifying the owners.

The main associate was Weissia controversa var. densifolia, with occasional patches of Bryum cf pallescens and some interesting lichens. An odd-looking Pohlia (I'm suspecting it's just young annotina but I will investigate further) was frequent, growing in dense and quite deep cushions with tightly packed appressed leaves. The shoots were noted to fragment very easily, possibly as a means of dispersing? Any thoughts on this one appreciated. [Des Callaghan kindly informed me this is Pohlia nutans fo. gemmiclada]

Finally a photo of a very smart lichen that was growing over (seemingly eating up!) the cushions of Weissia - again any suggestions appreciated: 

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Odd organism on Rhizomnium

These yellow, gemmae-like structures were found directly attached to a protonemal mat of what I assume was Rhizomnium punctatum. I've really struggled to even identify the phlyum of the organism and have wondered if they might even be galls. There are multiple  growths all similar in character and have kept their shape and colour even after being in the dry state for 10 days or more. Any help in identifying them would be greatly appreciated.

1. Structure of growths on decorticated wood.

2. Cross section through one of the growths showing that they are attached to the moss rather than the substrate.

3. Growth with multicellular propagules and protonema

4. Propagules - NB minor tick marks 2.5 μm

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Epiphyte on an epiphyte

I've been keeping half an eye out for specimens of the Ulota crispa complex, but all I've found recently has been U. bruchii. However, a specimen of bruchii found today at Taf Fechan Forest (SO048167, VC42) was enlivened by a tiny plant of Colura calyptrifolia which was growing on one of the old, brown leaves at the base of the cushion. This was at 400m asl in a fairly open situation at the edge of the forestry plantation.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Burning off the Xmas fat

This morning I went for a walk with the family to the top of Mynydd Troed which overlooks Llangorse Lake and reaches a reasonable height of 609m.  Looking up from where we parked, the hill didn’t look to have much potential for bryos, with few rock outcrops and no signs of seepages or streams.   The path up passed through mostly heathland where the bryophyte cover consisted almost entirely of a mix of Pleurozium schreberi, Hylocomium splendens and Pseudoscleropodium purum, although I did manage to spot a bit of one of my favourite liverworts Ptilidium ciliare at the heathy edge of a lichen covered boulder poking out of the ground.  Halfway up the hill an outcrop about 1m high proved to be quite base-rich with some very nice patches of Tortella bambergeri (as was), sheets of very chunky Hypnum lacunosum and scattered tufts of Grimmia pulvinata

Other rock outcrops slightly further up the slope were acidic and largely devoid of moss, with just a few patches of Dicranoweissia cirrata and Grimmia trichophylla.  From near the trig point is a nice view of the ridge above Pengenffordd and today it was topped off with a bit of snow.  In the valley below are the remains of what must have been an impressive castle in its day.  If you ever visit this castle take a look at the walls and outcrops on the lowest parts as they support one of the largest populations of Encalypta vulgaris in Breconshire. 

Just north of the trig point are some small crags, about 3m to 4 m high.   Again these proved to be very acidic with lots of Hypnum cupressiforme, some Isothecium myosuroides and a lot of algae.   At the base of the crags though were a few more interesting species such as Marsupella emarginata and a few crevices had the likes of Amphidium mougeotii and Fissidens adianthoides

A nearby grassy area held a few frosted shoots of Rhytidiadelphus loreus amongst a turf of mostly R. squarrosus.  

Back down near the car I noticed a small mound, probably an old anthill, with a bit of Ceratodon and a small Bryum that looked like rubens, for a change I had remembered to bring my handlens and so was able to see the bright red tubers amongst the rhizoids.  I must remember to make a point of looking for this moss as there are very few Breconshire records.  
So the hill seemed to be as bryologically poor as it first looked, although I didn't wander far from the path, but at least I got out in the field, a rare event this winter, and made some records for a poorly recorded square.  Also that Pengenffordd ridge looks inviting, with some better crags towards the Hay-on-Wye end and hopefully I'll get up there in 2018.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Also at Rest Bay

I had a quick poke about at Rest Bay, Porthcawl last Saturday, while I was down there with the family enjoying the empty beach. As well as the Bryum in the previous post, species noted in tetrad SS87E included Dialytrichia mucronata and Didymodon sinuosus on tarmac in the car park and Campylopus introflexus, Ceratodon purpureus and Brachythecium albicans in some sandy grassland which presumably had a degree of acidity to it. This tetrad had only one previous bryophyte record so it was good to put a few dots on the map.

The limestone outcrops on nearby Lock's Common fall within a different tetrad (SS87D). These held a reasonable diversity of species including Rhynchostegium megapolitanum and a single rosette of Riccia sorocarpa. On thin soil nearby were some good fruiting patches of one of the Pottiales. I thought these might be Tortula viridifolia at first, on account of the longly excurrent costa, but I don't think the leaf apex is rounded enough so they are probably T. modica (leaf margins are recurved).
As with much of the East Glamorgan coastline, this area would be well worth a more detailed inspection.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Bryum headache

I'm sure I'm not the first person to suffer this affliction.

There was a nice big patch of fruiting Bryum on sandy ground behind the beach at Rest Bay, Porthcawl on Saturday.

Capsules ranged from unripe to ripe so I took a sample to have a bash at getting it to species. An evening in front of the microscope, however, has left me non-plussed as I was unable to satisfactorily key it out using Smith. Below are a few photos and notes which I hope, in combination with the sandy habitat, will enable one of you to alleviate my suffering.
Leaves 0.75mm long, broad, strongly concave. Costa longly excurrent. Leaf margins strongly recurved but appear not to be bordered (unless border hidden in recurved section). Mid leaf cells c. 12 microns diam. Leaf base pinkish red.

Capsules: exostome teeth with vertical as well as horizontal divisions, not oblique. Cilia appendiculate. Synoecious (I think - there are what look like male organs at the base of the seta). Spores 15 microns diam.

I hope it's not just B. dichotomum! Hopefully the reddish leaf base rules this species out.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Lower Clydach River above Pont Llechart

Another short visit into this cascade-free and almost cliff-free valley revealed no real surprises, with just a few tetrad additions. Species noted of general interest included Colura calyptrifolia (photo below), Fontinalis squamosa, Heterocladium heteropterum var. flaccidum, Schistidium rivulare, Solenostoma paroicum, and Trichostomum tenuirostre (photo below).

This Ash supported Radula complanata at a level of abundance I've not seen before; all of the green growth visible being this species.

Non-bryological interest was provided by a little bit of Sticta fuliginosa agg./sylvatica growing on a willow, a genus in which all species appear to be very rare in Glamorgan.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

A Porella in Pembs

During our annual Brown Hairstreak egg survey at West Williamston on Sunday I noticed a few stems of a Porella species growing over limestone rocks, just a few metres above the high water mark in a sheltered inlet (SN02630609). My immediate thought was Porella obtusata and, having left my camera at home, I asked Paul Gadsby to take a couple of field shots for me:

I took a small sample for microscope checking; a few underside shots are shown below. The lobules are quite variable in width - some quite narrow and some over half the width of the underleaves. I'm not sure if this is conclusive enough for obtusata, or if it might just be platyphylla - any thoughts welcome. (I did a little taste test - there was no bitterness so I think arboris-vitae is out of the equation).

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Lower Clydach River above Craig-cefn-parc

I never found anything remarkable during a two hour search along a 1km stretch of the river today, which lacked any cascades greater than what are visible in the above photo. There was a nice colony of Jungermannia pumila (above) on one of only a couple of small cliffs, but probably the most interesting species were Ephemerum minutissimum and Bryum sauteri in an area of disturbed M23a.

One curiosity was Phlebia radiata which was enveloping entire shoots of Hypnum cupressiforme creating an interesting form (note the sample on the right in the image below has been turned upside-down).