Categories
Bryophyte Lichen

Kirkstone Pass trip report 24/8/21

Bryophytes

Kirkstone pass car park seemed busy when we arrived, with people unloading bikes and setting out on walks. It was a lovely sunny morning, but with some lingering mist above the pass. We were a small group, mainly lichen fans, so it seemed I’d be the only one looking at bryophytes. As we set off west from the car park the lichen group clustered around boulders, while I went to explore some small flushes and boggy areas. I was sure I’d seen Warnstorfia fluitans around here on a previous visit, but it didn’t want to show itself today. There was, however, a nice golden patch of Ptilidium ciliare, such an attractive liverwort that I attempted to distract the lichenologists from their boulders; they were moderately impressed by the lovely ciliate leaves ­ or just being polite!  Higher up the hillside we reached a large rock face, where Judith pointed out extensive sheets of Frullania. The shoots looked very narrow and dark, with the leaves curled under, and I wondered if it might be one of the less common species. Checking later under the microscope, it became clear that it was F. fragilifolia. The leaves were coming off on my hands and on the microscope slide, but there didn’t seem to be any really denuded stems. It was aromatic, but not as strongly as some liverworts. Other features however were much more distinctive: the underleaves were an irregular shape and often wedge shaped rather than round, the ocelli were scattered across the leaves rather than in a straight line, and the first underleaf on each branch was 3-lobed. This last feature was quite difficult to see, as it wasn’t always easy to get a clear view of the underleaf at the junction of stem and branch, but I found a few clear examples.

As we climbed higher into the corrie, the terrain became more interesting. The beck coming down the hillside was full of bryophytes, with thick black mats of Jungermannia exsertifolia, including some fertile shoots. Other species included Philonotis fontana, Dichodontium palustre and D. pellucidum, and a patch of Palustriella commutata. It was nice to see a small cushion of Anomobrym julaceum and a couple of nice bright green patches of Anoectangium aestivum as well as Amphidium mougeotii. We continued across and up to reach a large rock face, where there was more Frullania fragilifolia, and a small patch of Gymnomitrion obtusum (the rounded leaf lobes were clearly diagnostic when checked later under the microscope). Somewhere round here I found a small moss in a crevice in the ground, which had tongue-shaped leaves a bit like an Encalypta. On checking later, it turned out to be Leptodontium flexifolium, which was an exciting new find for me.  We had a lunch break here and I left early to check my finds at home. It felt like a productive morning, nice to be out in the fresh air and always good to catch up with people in person.

Clare Shaw


Lichens

The weather is key to the enjoyment of montane lichens. We’d postponed this trip after the original date got itself a yellow weather warning. And then the actual day dawned misty in the valley. But as I reached the top of the Struggle I came out into the sun. Hurrah! The weather gods were being kind, and as we (6 lichen folk and a lone bryologist) gathered in the Kirkstone Pass car park an osprey wheeled above the mist to cheer us on. The crows didn’t like it though…

The great thing about that car park is that you are high up at the start of the day. A less good thing is that it’s a busy place (I counted 7 overnighting motorhomes and a strong toilet smell). It’s also a spot that spoils you for choice: so many rocks and so little time! We went west (towards the quarry and below the corrie) out of the crowds and above the clouds. There were acid rock species for everyone to enjoy. Allan Pentecost was very helpful when it came to identification of more difficult species, as well as confirming the things we’d learnt ourselves during lockdown and pointing out things we’d never thought of! There were plentiful thalli of  Ophioparma ventosa (and the lichenicolous fungus Muellerella ventosicola); lots of Pertusaria corallina. We started to get to grips with Lecideas (lactea and confluens) and Porpidias (macrocarpa and soredizodes).  Clare impressed us with the moss Ptilidium ciliatum. A damp rock face produced Miriquidica pycnocarpa f. sorediata and the hi-vis Arthrorhaphis citrinella. And just to the side of it, Chris found Cetraria muricata with its many spinules.

We moved a bit further west in search of more basic outcrops. The beck provided isidiate Collema glebulentum; a line of little cliffs had wood sage and roseroot and alpine ladies mantle. There was Ionaspis lacustris; Pertusaria corallina adjacent to P. pseudocorallina for comparison purposes;  the slightly jaundiced thallus of Diploschistes scruposus with those lovely hollowed (urceolate) apothecia;  and the somewhat scurfy Porpidia rugosa.

After lunch, Allan and Judith descended briefly and explored a gully. Massalongia carnosa and Pertusaria flavicans were the result. The others headed for a little outcrop with a hawthorn (Caz found what may be Phaeographis smithii: we await confirmation), Peltigera membranacea and Agonimia tristicula below. A damp cliff enabled Allan to show us the interesting black crust of Pyrenopsis subareolata. Dermatocarpon intestiniforme again hinted at slightly less acidic conditions. The discarded nappy was less pleasant. Higher up there was Peltigera praetextata and Collema flaccidum on beckside boulders; Allan found Fuscidea kochiana too.

But it was time to head back via an easy amble: despite not going very far we’d managed to find over 80 species. And there’s still so much to explore from that car park. Future trips could go up into the corrie; further round towards the quarry; up on the east side of Red Screes; beyond the Kirk stone itself and maybe then we could think about crossing the road…

Pete Martin

Allan Pentecost added, “For interest, the stream which we were looking at, which seems to be unnamed, had a pH of 7.4, a calcium content of 8 ppm and a specific conductivity of 113 uS/cm.”

Thanks to Judith, Pete and Chris for the photos:

Categories
Bryophyte Lichen

Smardale Trip report 25/5/21

Well, it was great to meet up again for real, rather than over a screen!

Even though the weather forecast deteriorated over the preceding days, sixteen of us met in the new car park at Smardale. We wished each other “Happy New Year’s” in the flesh.

Eventually approximately 100 lichen species and 62 bryophyte species were recorded – good effort!

Lichens

Those interested in lichens remained in the car park- for quite a while. Some willows and ashes provided a variety of corticolous species, many of them lovers of nutrient enrichment: there was some well-developed Parmelina pastillifera with bun shaped isidia. The car park wall provided a variety of jelly lichens including Leptogium pulvinatum, Leptogium gelatinosum and Collema auriforme as well as limestone-loving crusts such as the pinky Acrocordia conoidea.

Eventually the group set off along the old railway line, Melanohalea laciniatula was quickly found on a trackside tree, and further along there was the pepperpot lichen, Pertusaria pertusa. Lecidella elaeochroma provided an opportunity to test whether everyone’s C, bleach, was still working. Non-lichen interest included water avens and St George’s mushroom.

The first railway viaduct provided an opportunity to look at a lot more limestone lichens, including Hymenilia prevosti ( it scratches green) and Caloplaca flavocitrina. Cladonia coniocraea was found growing at the foot of a wall. Some of us were more interested in the Peltigera species growing profusely on mossy log piles: P praetextata and membranacea were identified, but could that be P. rufescens? They are such variable things…and then a steam train came over the Settle-Carlisle line to distract us again.

Further progress along the track saw Thelotrema lepadinum being found, and a fine example of multi-tiered Cladonia chlorophaea: the cups bore cups which themselves bore cups. Traveling down into the valley through the woods was a tempting idea, but in the end we continued along the railway line.

Lunch was taken by a small viaduct over a beck: the sandstone construction gave us new lichens for the day: probable Lecidea lithophila, Porpidia tuberculosa (the K+UVpurple reaction was demonstrated) , Lecanora soralifera and Rhizocarpon reductum. Parmelia saxatilis was prolific on the railings.

A short distance further on and we were at the main viaduct. Swifts angled around us as Ochrolechia parella, Caloplaca crenularia, Pertusaria lactescens, Rhizocarpon geographicum, Melanelixia fuliginosa and Lecidea grisella and L. fuscoatra were found on the sandstone. Could that isidiate jelly lichen be  Scytinium magnussonii? No, John Douglass’s later research revealed it was a young Collema fuscovirens

The limestone cliffs just further on provided examples of squamulose lichens Romjularia luridum, Acarospora cervina, Toninia aromatica and T. sedifolia. We hoped that the limekilns might provide shelter from the rain and more interesting species, but were a bit of a disappointment. Time was moving on. The bryologists had called it a day, and as some of the party turned for home, we decided to as well. The woods would have to wait for another day.

So back to the car park it was.  An extra-time short journey down the railway line towards Waitby provided some lovely thalli of Parmotrema perlatum, more Pertusaria pertusa and Anisomeridium polypori on the large trackside ash trees.

As so often, there’s lots of scope for a return visit in the future. Thanks to everyone for a grand day out, and Cumbria Wildlife Trust for permission to visit.

Pete Martin

Bryophytes

The bryo group spent some time in the car park, admiring the limestone wall which had a few interesting species, including Porella platyphylla and a nice example of Ditrichum gracile (which we now have to call Flexitrichum gracile), showing typical lax growth with stems a few centimetres long. We were all feeling a little rusty after several months without meetings, so it was good to have a look at some common species. Heading into the woodland, there was a patch of Anomodon viticulosus, frequent on limestone, while the trees had Zygodon rupestris, Ulota phyllantha, Orthotrichum stramineum and patches of a gemmiferous Metzgeria species. Peter Bullard checked it with his ultra-violet LED light and thought that the reaction, or lack of it, ruled out M. violacea, so this seems likely to be Metzgeria consanguinea.

We managed to continue at a reasonably brisk pace to reach the first viaduct which crossed the track. Walls under the viaduct had a good coverage of bryophytes, mainly limestone-loving species: Ctenidium molluscum, Neckera complanata, Schistidium crassipilum, Tortella tortuosa, Homalothecium sericeum. Taking the path down the slope after the viaduct, we headed into denser woodland on a very slippy muddy path. The ground was damp and shaded, with patches of Plagiochila porelloides and P. asplenioides. Peter Bullard was pleased to find Loeskeobryum brevirostre, an Atlantic woodland species, and Belinda Lloyd spotted some Radula complanata. We reached the beck at the bottom of the slope, and although there was only access to a limited stretch of the water we found a few interesting species, thanks to Kerry Milligan and Stuart Colgate who had come in wellies and waded into the stream to fetch samples of Fontinalis antipyretica, Cinclidotus fontinaloides and Platyhypnidium riparioides. There was also a good stretch of limestone wall with additional species Thamnobryum alopecurum, Didymodon insulanus, Scapania aspera, and Plagomnium rostratum creeping over stones at the base.  

Most of us then returned to the main track, while Kerry and Stuart crossed the beck to check the opposite bank and slope, where they found Nowellia curvifolia, Riccardia palmata and Trichostomum brachydontium. A few of us continued across the viaduct and after a lunch break, headed to the quarry. This section of the track has more exposed limestone rock faces where there was Homalothecium lutescens. In the quarry itself we found a nice patch of Trichostomum crispulum and quite a bit of Syntrichia montana (previously S. intermedia). A few people had left by then and it was getting well into the afternoon when a heavy downpour sent the rest of us scurrying back to the car park. It was great to meet up with people ‘for real’ and get our brains back into bryophyte mode, as well as having the opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss IDs. We were particularly pleased to have such a good turnout and meet some new faces – thanks to everyone for coming!

Clare Shaw

Categories
Bryophyte Lichen

A Cryptogam Flora of the Coniston Limestone

For the last decade, Allan Pentecost been surveying the cryptogam flora (lichens, bryophytes, ferns) of the Coniston Limestone (now Dent Group) in the English Lake District. This is a narrow belt of limestone that divides the volcanic rocks of the high Lakeland fells from the softer Silurian rocks to the south.

Allan’s paper has just appeared in the Carlisle Natural History Society publication “Lakeland Naturalist”. It shows that the Coniston Limestone has an exceptionally rich cryptogam flora, owing to its varied lithology and complex surfaces, resulting from differential weathering.

Available to download here with permission from Allan Pentecost and Carlisle Natural History Society.
Pentecost, A. (2021). A cryptogam flora of the Coniston Limestone (now Dent Group) in the English Lake District. Lakeland Naturalist 9(1): 16-29.

Categories
Bryophyte

Bryum in Cumbria

Open-ground walks, and what you might see by way of mosses: in praise of a group of mosses which colonise bare soil, called “Bryums”.

Their genus name, Bryum, literally means moss….. from Latin bryon (“moss”), from Ancient Greek βρύον (brúon, “tree-moss, oyster-green”), from βρύω (brúō, “be full to bursting, abound”).

Many people enjoy walking: on footpaths, across fields…… in essentially “open ground” (as opposed to woodland or bogs or other specialist habitats). Many mosses are excellent pioneer species, which grow in open ground in bare soil, bits of mud by the side of a track, parkland paths, or anthills scuffed open by cow-kicks, ruderal places….. so a walk is a fine opportunity to see them.

One particular group of mosses which are found in open-ground places are the so-called “Thread-mosses”, the Bryums.

Bryums are pretty little mosses. Their body plan is the classic upright stem with leaves distributed evenly spaced along the stem (mostly). Some are pink-coloured, others red, and many shades of green of course, but all look ‘neat’. Most of the Bryums produce big, nodding spore capsules on tall setae, which are strikingly obvious even from a distance. There are only a handful of easily recognised common Bryum species you will meet on walks (if you look for them: bryologising is absolutely superb as a means to slow down, to take time, to notice details…..).


Bryum capillare (Capillary thread-moss) is a very common species. It grows on soil banks, waste ground, trees, logs, walls roofs, rocks. It forms short tufts or patches, with short spade-shaped green leaves, each with a fine, green hair point (of varying length) – the “capillary” of its name.

Bryum capillare. James Lindsey at Ecology of Commanster, CC BY-SA 2.5
Bryum capillare. James Lindsey at Ecology of Commanster, CC BY-SA 2.5
Bryum capillare. Björn S..., CC BY-SA 2.0
Bryum capillare. Björn S…, CC BY-SA 2.0
Bryum capillare closeup
Bryum capillare closeup

Bryum pseudotriquetrum (Marsh Bryum) is one of the larger bryums, and is the commonest bryum in marshes and other wet areas. Young plants look a bit different to mature ones, but that’s all part of the fun of puzzling over an ID. The nodding spore capsules are characteristically “bryum” shaped.

Bryum pseudotriquetrum young plants, Bradleyfield
Bryum pseudotriquetrum young plants, Bradleyfield
Bryum pseudotriquetrum. HermannSchachner, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Bryum pseudotriquetrum. HermannSchachner, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Bryum dichotomum (Bi-coloured Bryum) is one of the small, stubby bryums of disturbed soils, for example pathsides, gardens, fields – especially compacted clay soil. It also grows on wall tops. It is the commonest Bryum which shows leafy bulbils (small lumps which drop off and grow into new plants) in-between its leaves.

Bryum dichotomum. HermannSchachner, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Bryum dichotomum. Hermann Schachner, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bryum argenteum. Michael Becker, CC BY-SA 3.0
Bryum argenteum. Michael Becker, CC BY-SA 3.0

Bryum argenteum (silver-moss) is widespread and abundant in many nutrient-rich, periodically dry, disturbed habitats, such as paths, paving, sandy soil, concrete and tarmac. It has almost silvery-white, compact cylindrical shoots – unmistakable once seen. I will be willing to bet, it is growing on your roof!


Bryum alpinum (Alpine Thread-moss) is perversely named, since it isn’t at all alpine in distribution. It is a strikingly handsome red colour sometimes, and often grows in rocks in unshaded hilly areas subject to intermittent flushing or seepage. In other words, by streams where people walk! Its leaves are glossy, and the shoots form neat, tight cushions, where the bright red colour stands out from a distance.

Bryum alpinum. Hermann Schachner, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Bryum alpinum. Hermann Schachner, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bryum rubens (Crimson-tuber Thread-moss) is a classic bryum size and shape: small, neat, and often tinged with red. It grows on bare soil, for example beside roads, paths, arable fields, waste ground. It is by far the most common bryum with rhizoidal tuberous gemmae (lumpy balls on the “roots” which break off and become new plants). The tubers are, as its name says, bright crimson red. They occur above ground, too, so it is easy to see them with the naked eye, as tiny crimson specks on the lowest stems. It is also interesting to take a small sample of plant home, and wash off the soils gently to expose the rhizoids and their tubers.

Bryum rubens in soil
Bryum rubens in soil
Bryum rubens stem + leaves
Bryum rubens stem + leaves
Bryum rubens tuber
Bryum rubens tuber

Taking things further, Bryum rubens is in a group of eight Bryum species called the “erythrocarpum” group, all of which look rather similar, live on bare soil such as arable fields, anthills, etc, and all have red, brown or yellow tubers: eight different species, seven of which can be found in Cumbria. These make for really interesting ID challenges, involving microscopic examination of the tubers and other parts.

Bryum ruderale rhizoids x400
Bryum ruderale violet rhizoids x400

There are only two Bryums with this striking violet colour of the rhizoids:  Bryum ruderale (Pea bryum) seen here, has quite rough and knobbly rhizoids under high power (they are “papillose”), whereas the other violet-coloured Bryum, B violaceum (Pill bryum) has smooth-looking rhizoids instead. Both are found in Cumbria.

Bryums are often thought of as a “difficult” group. Well, the rarer ones surely are, but it is rewarding to try to get to grips with some of the commoner ones, and that may lead to finding and recognising the rarer and more tricky ones.

There are 36 species of Bryum in Cumbria, as listed in the NBN Cumbria records (as of Jan21) – see our maps. Well worth keeping an eye out, when walking?

Gary Lawrence

Categories
Bryophyte

Bryophytes of limestone regions in southern Cumbria

Limestone forms a striking part of the landscape in southern Cumbria and over the border into Lancashire. The cliffs and screes of Hutton Roof / Farleton Fell and Whitbarrow Scar loom over the M6 and A590 and are visible for miles. Gait Barrows NNR (Lancashire) claims to be one of Britain’s most important limestone habitats, and further stretches of limestone pavement appear throughout the Arnside and Silverdale AONB, which is where I live. The most visible and exposed stretches of limestone don’t look like ideal bryophyte territory, but the damp recesses of grikes in limestone pavement harbour a range of limestone specialists, and where the pavement is sheltered from the wind by trees, or in damp hollows, rocks and walls are usually covered in a carpet of mosses. Some of the commonest species are easily found and identified.

Rocks and stone walls in woodland

Bryophyte habitats on stone walls, rocks and remains of limestone pavement
Woodland rocks carpeted with bryophytes  
Bryophyte habitats on stone walls, rocks and remains of limestone pavement
Bryophyte cushions on stone walls

Several mosses are calcicoles – they prefer base-rich rock and are very abundant on limestone walls or rocks in woodland. Ctenidium molluscum is a distinctive moss which appears everywhere here, coating rocks and walls, but also growing among plants in grassland. The tips of the branches are tightly curved and reflect the light, so it appears silky, and often has golden tints. Neckera crispa also predominates, often hanging off walls and rocks in sheets, with large wrinkled, blistery leaves.

Ctenidium molluscum
Neckera crispa

Neckera complanata sometimes appears alongside and is a smaller, more elegant moss, with a similar habit of shoots flattened in one plane but with smooth rather than wrinkled leaves.

Neckera complanata
Neckera complanata close-up

Thamnobryum alopecurum is easily recognisable with its distinctive tree-like habit. It tends to grow over rocks on the ground, or at the base of walls.

Thamnobryum alopecurum
Ctinidium molluscum with Thamnobryum alopecurum over rocks

Anomodon viticulosus is less ubiquitous, but where it occurs it can form huge patches on walls or rocky banks, sometimes in more exposed locations. It is often a bright, lime green colour and has a very neat habit, which makes it easy to spot.

Anomodon viticulosus covering several feet of stone wall
Anomodon viticulosus close-up

Porella platyphylla is a liverwort that grows in similar conditions on damp walls, but is slightly less common. It can look similar to Neckera crispa, but the branches divide more regularly to form flat fans, and it has underleaves and lobules on the underside of the leaves. Porella arboris-vitae can occasionally be found on rock or in grykes on limestone pavement. It’s a darker, more olive green, with leaves that curl under to form almost tube-like shoots, and under a microscrope you can see that the underleaves are toothed. If you feel like tasting it, it is supposed to have a peppery taste.

Porella platyphylla
Porella platyphylla close-up showing underleaves and lobules
Porella platyphylla close-up showing underleaves and lobules

Porella arboris vitae
Porella arboris-vitae
Porella arboris vitae close-up showing toothed underleaves
Porella arboris-vitae close-up showing toothed underleaves


A final interesting and uncommon species is worth mentioning as it’s relatively easy to find. Marchesinia mackaii grows on shaded limestone outcrops and has been described as looking like graffiti. It occurs in several places in Arnside/Silverdale and also around Grange over Sands.

Marchesinia mackaii
Marchesinia mackaii
Marchesinia mackaii close-up
Marchesinia mackaii close-up

Exposed rocks

Bryophytes on exposed rock
Mosses growing in damp hollows in limestone pavement
Bryophytes on exposed rock
Limestone pavement on Whitbarrow Scar

More exposed rocks are likely to be less heavily overgrown with moss, but a good variety of species can be easily found. Homalothecium sericeum is common on limestone, it grows appressed to the rock and has a velvety appearance.

Homalothecium sericeum
Homalothecium sericeum

Other mosses tend to form cushions. One of the most common of these is Tortella tortuosa, which is quite a bright or light green and has long wavy leaves that twist into a spiral when dry.

Tortella tortuosa with ctenidium molluscum
Tortella tortuosa with ctenidium molluscum
Tortella tortuosa close-up
Tortella tortuosa close-up

Other Tortella species include Tortella nitida and Tortella densa. T. nitida is fairly common on stone walls and rocks on the south-facing slopes of Silverdale. It likes sunny situations and also seems to be well recorded around Grange over Sands. It forms tight cushions, the leaves are shorter and straighter than T. tortuosa, they often lose their tips and curl distinctively into tight balls when dry.

Tortella nitida
Tortella nitida
Tortella nitida close-up
Tortella nitida close-up

Tortella densa is a rare moss (described as ‘very rare’ in Smith) that is worth looking out for. It grows in a couple of places on the limestone pavement in Arnside and Silverdale AONB. The leaves are erect and straight, and it tends to be a duller green than the other Tortella species.

Tortella densa
Tortella densa

A very common cushion-forming moss is Schistidium crassipulum, widespread everywhere as it grows on tarmac, concrete and mortar in walls as well as on natural limestone. It forms looser cushions than Tortella species and usually has hair points. It can also be identified by the capsules, which are red when ripe but usually hidden among the leaves, so you need to search them out.

Schistidium crassipulum
Schistidium crassipulum
Schistidium crassipulum capsule
Schistidium crassipulum capsule

Two Orthotrichum species are common on limestone. Orthotrichum anomalum has reddish brown capsules with a sparsely hairy caliptra which are held clearly above the leaves, whereas Orthotrichum cupulatum has lighter, brownish capsules which are held barely clear of the leaves.

Orthotrichum anomalum in the foreground, with Orthotrichum cupulatum behind and right
Orthotrichum anomalum in the foreground, with Orthotrichum cupulatum behind and right

Another very common moss here, growing in rock crevices and on rocky paths, is Fissidens dubius or ‘rock pocket moss’, recognisable from other Fissidens species by its toothed margin and rows of pellucid cells. There are about twenty Fissidens species, but this one seems to predominate in this area.

Fissidens dubius
Fissidens dubius
Fissidens dubius leaf under microscope
Fissidens dubius leaf under microscope

Obviously, this is just a snapshot of the main species. If you find any more interesting bryophytes that you’d like to share, from limestone habitats or elsewhere, or if you’d like help with identification, please share your photos on the Facebook group.

Clare Shaw

Categories
Bryophyte Lichen

Short-listed for the NBN Groups Award 2020

The Cumbria Lichen and Bryophyte Group has been short-listed for a group award in the NBN Awards for Wildlife Recording 2020! These annual Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding contributions adults and young people are making to wildlife recording and data sharing, which is helping to improve our understanding of the UK’s biodiversity.

It’s free to attend the virtual awards ceremony on Wednesday 18th November 2020 from 4pm to 4:40pm – book here.

We’re one of five groups short-listed for the award and we are very pleased to reach this stage so soon after setting up. Thanks very much to April Windle for entering us – and for her outstanding help while in Cumbria as the Plantlife LOST project officer. She enthusiastically commented, “so flipping deserved – you are AMAZING!”. Our group outings have currently stopped due to Covid-19 but members and others are keeping in touch using the Cumbria Lichens and Cumbria Bryophytes Facebook groups.

We record sightings on group trips and submit records individually. Bryologist members are the regional recorders for VC69 and VC70. Lichen group member Chris Cant has produced very useful interactive lichen distribution maps for VC69 and VC70. Over the winter of 2018-19, Pete Martin visited 20 woodlands in southern Lake District doing Rapid Woodland Assessments while also counting the number of indicator lichen species he could find – more info. Species found during the LOST project brought the national British Lichen Society to visit the wood pasture at Rydal, Ambleside, in 2019. Clare Shaw found Pale scalewort moss Radula voluta at Frith Wood in December 2018 which has led to moves to protect the woodland. Member Russell Gomm first reported lichen records while working here in 1974; his interest has been re-awakened and he is now finding new records on his local patch near the Solway. Increased awareness of lichens and bryophytes with conservation managers has led to efforts to translocate internationally important lichen Lobaria pulmonaria on fallen trees brought down in storms of February 2020. The group has raised concerns about a planning application which may affect bryophytes, lichens and ferns at Stanley Ghyll.

Caz Walker says, “A good species distribution map is worth its weight in gold: it allows us to track down things we haven’t yet seen (part of the long learning process) as well as refinding old sightings to confirm continuity; it allows at a glance an assessment of the habitat type and quality once one knows what to look for; it shows many blanks on the map of areas not yet well recorded which is an incentive to visit.  Putting good quality records in the public domain is so important and helps others to understand and protect the natural environment.”

You can see what has been found for an area on NBN. Lichen species are listed in the Fungi group. Bryophytes are within the Plants category.

And the winners are…

The well-deserved winner and runner-up of the Group Award in the 2020 NBN Awards for Wildlife Recording are:
* Winner: The Mammal Society
* Runner up: Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group


Categories
Bryophyte Lichen

Eycott Hill trip report 19/10/19

Lichens

A full team (yes, there were eleven) gathered at Eycott Hill on a cool October morning. Cloud played with the fells, a harbinger of the rain to come later in the day. And after a short introduction, the group parted: five of us to look at the lichen and six to look at the mosses and such.

Of course, we headed in the same direction and were interested in the same wall initially. But it didn’t detain the bryologists long: they headed to the bog on a sphagnum hunt.  The lichen folk lingered: as befits somewhere with a variety of rocks (Carboniferous limestone and Eycott Hill lavas), the wall had some interesting species. We examined Lecanora Campestris; L. sulphurea; Ochroclechia parella; Collema auriforme and some Caloplacas that we couldn’t sort out. We found Parmelia saxatilis too. No surprises there, but it wasn’t on the NBN atlas list so we could regard it as new for Eycott!

Eventually, we tore ourselves away and wandered in search of rocky outcrops and peaty exposures. Highlights included fruiting Diabeis baeomyces and the prolific and fertile Massalongia carnosa. We found both the Cetrarias previously reported from the site: C. aculeata and C. muricata and very fine and jolly coloured they looked too. The pseudocyphellae on the former were examined and found to be near the axils as the book said they would be. There were good examples of bird-perch-favouring species such as Xanthoria candelaria, Lecanora muralis, Lasallia pustulata and Candelaria vitellinaStereocaulon dactylophyllum was found near the summit and we even felt confident enough to key out some Cladonias as a group. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t always result in a satisfactory identification.

As the afternoon progressed and the rain set in further, we noticed that the bryologists had left the bog and drifted back to the car park. Which gave us an excuse to head back ourselves via a couple of hawthorns that took the lichen species list for the day to a round 50. Or was it 51? Anyway, it seems that eleven of them were previously unrecorded at Eycott. And as for the bryologists? Well they seemed happy with their sphagnum tally…

Pete Martin

And the bryologists …

We had a good turnout on the bryophyte front, with 6 of us, including one keen new member (hurrah!). We recorded 40 species, including 10 Spagnum species (possibly others, but we haven’t been able to confirm these with any confidence) and other bog specialists such as Scorpidium scorpioides, revolvens and cossonii, Straminergon stramineum, Campylium stellatum and Aulacomnium palustre. On the rocky outcrops there were Andreaea rothii, Hedwigia stellata, Barbilophozia floerkei, large quantities of Ptilidium ciliare and Racomitrium heterostichum and lanuginosum.

It’s an interesting site, with some limestone and many ridges of volcanic rock formed by eroded ancient lava flows. Between the ridges, water collects to form very wet, boggy areas, with a good range of Sphagnum species. Wellies are definitely needed. There’s an interesting mix of base-rich flushes and more acidic bog. I’m sure we missed lots of exciting stuff (we didn’t find any Sphagnum fuscum, which is supposed to be here), and we didn’t get as far as the woodland, which might be worth a look on another occasion.

Clare Shaw

Photos by Pete Martin and Clare Shaw:

Categories
Bryophyte Lichen

Tom Gill Trip Report 15/3/20

Lichens

This month, there were no severe weather warnings, so the group trip to Tom Gill near Tarn Hows could go ahead. On the other hand, the forecast wasn’t great and the spreading Coronavirus pandemic was a concern… but in the end the nine of us who made the trip, including a couple of new participants, were treated to a pretty dry day, with a couple of glimpses of the sun.

For once, we were quick out of the car park: but only for about 50 metres to an old roadside ash pollard with impressive Peltigera horizontalis. After a while looking at that, and pondering the associated crusts, we gradually climbed through the Atlantic oakwoods. There was a lot of Ochrolechia androgyna, and impressive sheets of Hypotrachyna taylorensis. Some blue dots on a Parmelia species intrigued: are they Endococcus parmeliarum? We found the Thelotrema lepadinum and Arthonia cinnabarina listed in the SSSI citation, but couldn’t find the Lobaria pulmonaria that in 1970 had been “abundant on old Quercus”. Maybe the tree isn’t there any more.

On the other hand, on an oak in a damp hollow by a stream junction, there was prolific Mycobilimbia pilularis and Pannaria conoplea, as well as high up rosettes of Peltigera horizontalis. Something of the Lobarion community still lingers. The bryophyte section of the party managed to impress us with handsome woollywort (Tricholea tomentella) before finding Dermatocarpon luridum for us in the beck.

After lunch we carried on up through the wood, finding Bryoria fuscescens on larch, before heading out into the pasture area to the south. Trees there provided Cetrelia olivetorum, Collema flaccidum and some interesting species on ash. Wilson’s filmy fern (Hymenophyllum wilsonii) was found growing on a rock outcrop. The day’s count was over 60 species, with something for everyone: a further visit would almost certainly produce more.

Pete Martin

Bryophytes

The lower part of the wood was carpeted with typical atlantic oakwood species such as Rhytidiadelphus loreus, Thuidium tamariscinum, Isothecium myosuroides and Polytrichastrum formosum. Mature oaks had luxuriant wefts of Frullania tamarisci on their trunks. Closer inspection revealed other smaller liverworts such as Lepidozia reptans and Lejeunea cavifolia. Some of the oaks also had extensive patches of Scapania gracilis.

The beck and its tributaries offered a different assemblage of species. Thamnobryum alopecurum and Platyhypnidium riparoides were abundant on the rocks in the main beck with attractive patches of Hyocomium armoricum in the splash zone. At the top of one of the tributary flushes, the beautiful liverwort Trichocolea tomentella (Handsome Woollywort) was discovered, with Palustriella commutata nearby.

Damp shaded banks above the beck produced Hookeria lucens, Plagiochila asplenioides, Fissidens adianthoides and abundant Pellia epiphylla. A single patch of Porella arboris-vitae (Bitter Scalewort) was found growing at the base of an old ash tree next to the beck, and Plagiochila spinulosa was also recorded nearby.

The boundary wall was covered in common bryophytes amongst which the liverwort Barbilophozia barbata was found to be fairly frequent.

After lunch we moved on to the upper part of the wood. This is a steep west facing bank with an area of block scree mostly covered by mosses. Leucobryum glaucum was abundant here, together with Dicranum majus and Bazzania trilobata. Nowellia curvifolia, which had been surprisingly sparse in the lower part, was frequent here on dead wood.

A diversion into the adjacent field to look for Lobaria and other lichens produced a few additional species, including Campylopus atrovirens, Andraea rothii and Polytrichum piliferum on rock outcrops. Of more interest was the Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy Fern) mentioned above, and the large patch of Pterogonium gracile at the base of a veteran ash tree. Altogether 73 species were recorded on the day.

Kerry Milligan

Photos by Chris Cant and Kerry Milligan: