Bryophyte Trip report

Blawith Common bryophyte trip report 14 November 2023

On the day before the trip date, the weather was appalling, with strong winds and relentless heavy rain, and the weather forecast was not amazing, so we set off for the day with some trepidation to see how the weather would evolve. There was a lot of standing water on the roads, with quite long stretches of the Burton road submerged, but two of us arrived safely at the meeting point on the A5084, near the small road to Stable Harvey (SD 28934 91049). There was a surprisingly good turnout, with eight people in the bryophyte group.

With the benefit of local knowledge from Rob, we decided to have a quick look at the quarry where some of us were parked. It was indeed a good site and the bare quarry floor was almost entirely carpeted in bryophytes, including Philonotis fontana, small amounts of Dichodontium palustre, Didymodon insulanis, Campylium stellatum, Cratoneuron filicinum, Calliergonella cuspidata and quite a surprising amount of Palustriella commutata (not as regularly pinnate as you would normally expect, but showing all the other features – plentiful rhizoids and paraphylla, curved leaves etc.). We had two beginner bryologists joining the group for the first time, so this was a good opportunity for teaching / revising some common species. The walls of the quarry also had quite a good variety of species: large quantities of Kindbergia praelonga in one corner, also Schistidium crassipilum and some small cushions of fruiting Ptychomitrium polyphyllum. At the far evidence there was further evidence of base-rich substrate, with Tortella tortuosa and Ctenidium molluscum. It was nice to see a good cushion of the tufa moss Gymnostomum aeruginosum, as well as Ptilidium ciliare and a small patch of Scapania compacta.

After a good explore of this area we thought it was time to head for the mires on Blawith common. We splashed up the Stable Harvey road, stopping to admire some lovely patches of the lichen Pannaria conoplea on an old ash (see lichen report!). The lower stretches of the road pass through open woodland with birch and some old ash and oak. Spotting a waterfall just off the road, we headed off to explore. The waterfall had Chionoloma tenuirostre, Metzgeria conjugata and a few nice cushions of Amphidium mougeotii (another tufa moss), but sadly no Jubula hutchinsiae, which has however been recorded in this tetrad. A veteran oak overhanging a rock face had a big cushion of prolifically fruiting Leucobryum at its foot – the capsules (with a white calyptra and distinctive but small bump at the base) pointed to L. glaucum as L. juniperoideum is more rarely seen fruiting and the capsules are slightly different. A sample was examined in case it was L. albidum, but it was confirmed by Tom Blockeel as L. glaucum. Hanging off the rock face, on a mat of decaying vegetative matter, was a small amount of Lophozia incisa. There was also some nice, gemmiferous Lophozia ventricosa on a tree root, Gymocolea inflata on a rock and a potential Rhytidiadelphus subpinnatus. We had lunch near the waterfall, then headed back to the road under a grey sky and light drizzle. Some flat rocks near the road had Polytrichum pilliferum, Racomitrium lanuginosum and Pogonatum urnigerum with Bryum alpinum and Breutelia chrysocoma in seepages. By the road edge there was some gold-tinted Sphagnum inundatum.

A little way up the road, we finally reached the mire, which at first was rather poor, mainly Molinia and Myrica gale with only small amounts of Sphagnum beneath. We collected a couple of Sphagnum species, then headed across the road to a better site, where there were cushions of Polytrichum strictum and Aulocomium palustre, as well as several Sphagnums: S. capillifolium subsp. capillifolium, S. auriculatum, S. fallax, S. inundatum, S. palustre, S. papillosum and S. russowii. There were patches of Odontoschisma Sphagni and one patch of Mylia anomala, with only a few shoots showing clusters of gemmae after the heavy rain. Straminergon stramineum was poking its head out of some of the mounds. A small escarpment of rocks above the mire had Andreaea rothii and Ptilidium ciliare.

A cold wind was starting to blow, so we decided to beat a retreat. It was an enjoyable day, and undoubtedly far better than any of us had been expecting.

Text and photos: Clare Shaw

Bryophyte Trip report

Duddon Valley bryophyte trip report 15 October 2023

For a change the sun was shining and the winds light for our October meeting at High Wallowbarrow Farm near Seathwaite in the Duddon Valley. The farm is unusual in having large areas of ancient semi-natural woodland, most of which lies within the Duddon Valley Woodlands Site of Special Scientific Interest. Whilst bryophytes have been quite well recorded in parts of the SSSI, other areas appear to have been little visited; monad SD2196 immediately west of the farmhouse  has records for only three species, whilst the adjacent monad (SD2296) has a list of 189 species. We decided to focus the morning’s efforts in SD2196 and visit the spectacular Wallowbarrow Gorge in SD2296 in the afternoon.

After a brief introduction, we made our way to Wallowbarrow Coppice, an area of upland oakwood on a steep west facing slope with frequent birch and hazel. An abundance of common mosses such as Thuidium tamariscinum, Isothecium myosuroides, Rhytidiadelphus loreus and Polytrichum formosum covered the woodland floor, rocks and tree bases, with the liverworts Scapania nemorea, Scapania gracilis, Diplophyllum albicans also abundant. More unusual species included Rhabdoweisia crenulata, Orthocaulis (Barbilophozia) atlantica, Tritomaria exsectiformis, and Scapania umbrosa. A quick foray into a small mire above the wood added several Sphagna including Sphagnum papillosum and S rubellum, together with Polytricum strictum and Aulocomium palustre. An unusual Racomitrium on rocks nearby was later confirmed as R obtusum. This was formerly considered a variety or subspecies of R. heterostichum and there are as yet very few records of it in Cumbria, although it is likely to be quite widespread. Whilst we did not re-find Syzigiella (Jamesoniella) autumnalis, Grimmia ramondii or Ptychomitrium polyphyllum which had previously been found in SD2196, 62 new species were recorded. We could probably have spent the whole day in this monad and identified a lot more, but after lunch we headed into SD2296 to visit Crag End Wood and Wallowbarrow Gorge. Quickly ticking off many of the common bryophytes already encountered in the morning, we soon found some new species including Diphyscum foliosum and Hyocomium armoricum on the river banks, Sciuro-hypnum plumosum and Marsupella aquatica on rocks in the river, Amphidium mougeotii and Saccogyna viticulosa on crags, and Dicranodontium denudatum on dead wood. Towards the end of the day, the rain came in and we retreated. In total 83 bryophytes were recorded across the two monads. Thanks to Chris at High Wallowbarrow Farm for access and to everyone who participated in what was a very enjoyable day.

Text: Kerry Milligan. Photos: Kerry Milligan, Clare Shaw, Paul Ross.

Lichen Trip report

Duddon Valley lichen trip report 15 October 2023 

A large group met at High Wallowbarrow Farm in the Duddon Valley on a sunny autumn day. There are few lichen records here, monad SD2296 having 34 mainly from 1970 (Brian Coppins and Francis Rose). We started by looking in the next square to the west which was unrecorded. This is a formerly coppiced wooded slope where alder, birch, hazel and oak grow amongst huge mossy boulders and outcrops.

It was slow going as every tree and rock needed examination, with lots of lichen chat. Many participants were complete beginners while others had come on trips earlier in the year and remembered enough to have a go at identification – and could help those who knew less. Normandina pulchella on several hazel trees proved popular, as well as discussions around various Cladonia species. A large boulder had a granular yellow-green and orange patch of Trapeliopsis pseudogranulosa as well as some crustose Pertusaria species to which chemicals were applied in order to confirm the identification with a colour change.

John Douglass, a lichenologist based in Scotland, was with us and helped point things out to everyone, including Micarea alabastrites with flat, white apothecia on a mossy alder and crustose species, such as Rhizocarpon infernulum f. sylvaticum, Porina lectissima on a mossy boulder high in the wood and both Trapelia glebulosa and T involuta growing side by side on a massive boulder beside the path near the farm. The latter is a distinct species but has been confused with T glebulosa in the past. Also here were Arthrorhaphis citrinella, easily identifiable with a bright yellow-green granular thallus and, in this case, fertile with black apothecia, as well as Placopsis lambii, a crustose lichen which has the appearance of lobes around the edge as well as flat patches of grey soredia, making it very recognisable. Nearby a birch had tiny neat pale yellowish rosettes of Parmeliopsis ambigua, with soredia arranged in globose soralia on the narrow lobes. Furrowed lirellae of Graphis elegans were on the same tree.

After lunch John headed to the river to search for aquatic lichens (his specialism) on damp rocks beside the river, finding Porina rivalis, new to VC70, as well as commoner species like Massalongia carnosa, Ephebe lanata and Ionaspis lacustris.  The rest of us moved slowly along a dry stone wall, finding lots of lichen interest. Geoffrey enjoyed exploring the species there with Carole and Paul, taking the time to look closely at some tiny features. These walls can be very good for lichens and this was no exception – many little habitat niches supported plenty of common species as well as Stereocaulon pileatum and some good Cladonia species, such as the red-fruited C diversa and C bellidiflora. Mature oak and ash in the pasture had a range of foliose lichens and a hazel at the woodland entrance had the typical smooth bark species Pertusaria leioplaca and Arthonia radiata.

A final mossy boulder had good Cladonia which deserved close inspection, Cladonia caespiticia being the most obvious as it was fertile with tiny pink mushroom-like structures and minute dark pycnidia on the squamules. Also here was Cladonia squamosa showing pink brown apothecia – it’s not often seen fertile.

Overall there was something for everyone here but the feeling was that quite a lot was missing – there wasn’t the range of lichens or bryophytes we might expect at a good site. Kerry pointed out that the area had been intensively exploited in the past – heavily grazed, coppiced, trees felled for firewood etc – not to mention over 100 years of pollution from the industrial SW Cumbrian coast, all of which explains what we see, or don’t see, today. The recovery of the biodiversity may take many years.

Text: Caz Walker: Photos: Caz Walker, Chris Cant, Geoffrey Haigh, John Douglass

Bryophyte Trip report

Mallerstang Bryophyte report 14 September 2023

As with any bryology outing, it’s easy to get distracted by the surroundings of the car park. Some awkward road closures and traffic spread out arrivals, so a brief look around Pendragon castle yielded a light green Zygodon growing on an old ash – Zygodon rupestris perhaps? Alas, the longitudinal cell walls on its gemmae confirmed it as the more-common Zygodon viridissimus.

Once all three bryologists were present, we set off for the Mallerstang crags aiming to focus our efforts on grid square NY7902 which curiously lacked any bryophyte records. After confirming the presence of Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus ambitiously (presumptively?) identified by Judith from 800m away in the car park, we found a typical assembly of upland acid grassland mosses and the first few of what would be a good day for SphagnumSphagnum capillifolium, S. subnitens and S. russowii.

Our first liverwort of the day was Tritomaria quinquedentata growing among wefts of Pleurozium and Pseudoscleropodium, quickly followed by Ptilidium ciliare, Orthocaulis attenuatus and a larger gemmiferous Orthocaulis (confirmed later as O. atlanticus) on the grassy margins of exposed rocks. The shaded bases of the larger rocks were occupied by Diplophyllum albicans, Scapania gracilis and the occasional large stand of a Cephalozia, later confirmed by Kerry to be C. bicuspidata.

As we advanced further towards the crags, we crossed several rush-dominated flushes, adding six more sphagna to our list – S. squarrosum, S. auriculatum, S. palustre, S. fallax, S. angustifolium and S. teres. We also added Polytrichum commune whose family was well represented on the day, including P. piliferum, P. strictum, P. formosum, Polytrichastrum alpinum, Pogonatum urnigerum and P. aloides.

We passed a few more damp patches adding Sphagnum papillosum and S. rubellum to our list, and our arrival at the crags was further delayed by a stream with typical riparian bryophytes – Brachythecium plumosum, Racomitrium aciculare, R. aquaticum, Scapania undulata and a Pellia species. The flushed edges boasted Philonotis fontana and Dichodontium pellucidum with scattered patches of Riccardia chamaedryfolia.

It was after 2pm when we reached the crags where we pondered a slender Campylium, later identified as C. portensum with leaves <2mm long, large alar patches and abruptly tapering leaves. The flushed crags were adorned with flows of the usual suspects – Philonotis fontana, Amphidium mougeotii, Palustriella commutata and Breutelia chrysocoma. The diversity expanded with Pohlia wahlenbergii, Bryum julaceum, Aneura pinguis, Pellia endiviifolia with ample branchlets, Blindia acuta, Jungermannia atrovirens, Hookeria lucens and Gymnostomum aeruginosum.

Our journey back to the carpark included a brief stop around some boulders with Calypogeia arguta, Schistidium crassipilum and Orthotrichum diaphanum joining our list. Further down, a quick look around a streamside limestone exposure yielded little more of interest but hiding in turf overhang was Sphagnum girgensohnii, our twelfth and final Sphagnum of the day.

Text and photos: Paul Ross

Lichen Trip report

Mallerstang Lichen Report 14 September 2023

Lindrigg Scars, Mallerstang

A day of fine weather following overnight rain gave perfect conditions as the lichens were well hydrated and colourful but not too sodden. We parked opposite 12th century Pendragon Castle and had a quick look at the walls and adjacent ash trees, sadly badly affected by die-back, then plodded up hill towards the gritstone cliffs at about 600m on the eastern skyline. Once above the fell wall, isolated rocks started to appear in the grassy slopes with proper boulder fields higher up. Some of these rocks had swards of lichens amongst moss, ranging from larger leafy species like Parmelia saxatilis, Hypogymnia physodes and Platismatia glauca to smaller crustose species including plentiful Rhizocarpon, Porpidia, Pertusaria and Fuscidea, as well as colourful Ophioparma ventosa. One patch of Parmelia saxatilis was being consumed by the lichenicolous fungus Marchandiomyces corallinus resulting in pale necrotic areas scattered with pink bulbils. Nearby brown P omphalodes had a different LF with black fruiting bodies bursting through the cortex – there’s a specimen to examine. There wasn’t a wide range of Cladonia species, probably because there was little exposed peat with generally dense grasses covering the ground. A niche for these can be found, however, along the turf-rock boundary where there is less competition and especially on rock surfaces where there is a “biological crust” of dead bryophytes, lichens and algae. Here we found red-fruited Cladonia diversa and C polydactyla, the brown pointed podetia of Cladonia furcata, the elegant Cladonia gracilis and glossy dark chestnut Cetraria aculeata with tiny white oval pseudocyphellae immersed in the branches. This is a fruticose (bushy) lichen, as is Bryoria fuscescens, found amongst moss and other lichens on the north side of a large boulder. One Cladonia new to us was C luteoalba, the undersides of the squamules densely tomentose/fluffy. This species is supposed to start life on other Cladonia species, presumably pinching their algae.

Some of the party expanded their horizons to include fungus as this is the start of the waxcap season. Judith found the large pink Ballerina waxcap, Porpolomopsis calyptriformis, and a few others were seen later.

There were fewer species on the vertical gritstone of Lindrigg Scars but, associated with thin beds of siltstone, were a couple of small aspen trees giving us the only records of corticolous species – Lecidella elaeochroma and Arthonia radiata. The aspen may have got there as a seed (though it’s not often fertile in the UK and there were no other nearby trees) and has survived out of reach of browsers – unless it’s a surviving sucker from an original tree now gone. On the rock face here were patches of brown Parmelia discordans, similar to the commoner P omphalodes but without obvious pseudocyphellae and with a K- medulla (P omphalodes is K+ orange). Nearby, we found Lichenomphalia alpina where peat was hanging over an outcrop. There was some doubt as the mushroom fruiting bodies were a paler yellow than we’d seen before, but the caps were smaller in diameter than the commoner L umbellifera, which has a browner cap with a wavy margin and more striate. Both share the same thallus of shiny dark green globules of clustered algae. Lichenomphalia velutina was also mentioned as a possibility but that also has a brownish cap. A short distance further on there was another patch of L alpina, this time with tiny developing buttons which were a deeper yellow.

After exploring southward along the edge we headed down, finding a small area of lovely heath on the steep slope below with low-growing bilberry, heather and moss. Here Chris found one small clump of Cetraria islandica as well as the only Umbilicaria species we’d seen, the common U polyphylla. The sward contained plentiful “reindeer” lichens – Cladonia arbuscula, C ciliata and C uncialis.

The monad NY7902, covering the main part of Lindrigg Scars, has 95 existing records. Most of the lichens we saw are covered by this list but with a few new ones so taking the total count for the square over 100. We went into the next monad to the south which seemed to have no records and were able to add over 50 lichens to that square. Overall none of our records had rarity value – the tricky crustose species Porpidia melinodes and P flavocruenta (if confirmed when we have time to look at the specimen) were the only ones less common – but, as Brian Coppins says, it’s important to record the common background species to get a full picture of the habitat. We’re certainly good at that!

Text: Caz Walker. Photos: Chris Cant and Caz Walker

Lichen Trip report

Solway trip report 19th August 2023

The weather forecast did not bode well for our trip to the Solway coast with a storm bringing heavy rain overnight prior to our visit. The weather at the coast usually clears quickly and this proved to be the case with no rain all day though it was blustery and occasionally sunny enough for some butterflies.

In the morning we visited the CWT Bowness-on-Solway reserve, a small area of old gravel pits, given to Cumbria Wildlife Trust in 1977, which has turned into luscious ponds with lots of new woodland and open glades with interesting invertebrates, botany and many tasty ripe blackberries. Mossy willows dominate in the wetter areas with hawthorn, birch and the occasional oak and elder on drier ground. Despite its small size this felt like very good habitat, one that, had it been on the west coast of Scotland, might have been home to Lobarion lichens. Little Xanthoria parietina was seen which is a good sign. However we saw a limited range of species (though they were looking lush) probably because it was dark under the willow canopy and many trees had fairly acidic bark, as well as not being very old. Succession to full-blown woodland is stopped by regular scrub removal so as to preserve the freshwater habitat, the main feature of this site, as well as glades for flowering plants and butterflies.

The trees had foliose species including prolific Parmotrema perlatum, pearly grey with sorediate crinkly edges, Punctelia subrudecta with punctiform dots of soredia on the lobe surface and around the margins, and Flavoparmelia caperata, all looking very green after the rain. Mossy willow trunks had Peltigera membranacea and P. hymenina. Examining trees more closely we found a good amount of Normandina pulchella amongst bryophytes and on drier bark clear of moss Phaeographis smithii, confirmed later when Chris looked at the exciple and spores. Other lirellate species (Opegrapha and Arthonia in old money) were on smooth birch bark. The orange discs of Coenogonium (Dimerella) luteum showed up well amongst moss; on drier trunks in cracks the smaller pale grey-pink discs of Coenogonium pineti were seen. There was lots of common Ramalina fastigiata and R. farinacea as well as a small example of Ramalina fraxinea on a well-lit hawthorn near the edge of the reserve; this latter species was impacted by sulphur dioxide pollution but is now hopefully recovering – a species for which we have International Responsibility. Alongside this was what we thought might be poorly formed R. fraxinea but on closer inspection has proved to be Ramalina canariensis which has distinctive soralia around the edge of short broad lobes. This is coastal in the north, liking well-lit situations on basic bark (this was on elder). Nearby was Physcia stellaris on alder, with a K- medulla, which distinguishes it from P. aipolia which has a K+ yellow medulla.

At the reserve entrance there was a nice sandstone gate stoop with the only saxicolous species we saw at this site: Ochrolechia parella, Lecidella stigmatea and Lepra (Pertusaria) amara (soredia with bitter taste) which is usually on bark but can be on humid sheltered rock. On the lignum of gates, fence posts and dead tree trunks we found Cladonia species, Candelariella reflexa, Fuscidea lightfootii and Violella fucata (Pd+ orangy red) amongst others.

Moving on to RSPB Campfield we made our way past the main bird hides and through some damp woods where Arthonia spadicea was on birch, as well as typical acid bark species. A boardwalk then led onto Bowness Common, described in the SSSI citation as the largest raised mire remaining in England. Initially it looked bleak for lichens – a sea of heather, bog myrtle and sphagnum, mostly pretty damp with not much exposed peat – but off the boardwalk it was wet but firm underfoot with lots of lovely Cladonia hiding in open patches of peat between the heather. Mounds of C. portentosa were the most visible.  A lovely dark brown “heathtail” with a ring of spines at the hollow tip forming a star-like effect is possibly Cladonia crispata var cetrariiformis to be confirmed. There were a further dozen or so Cladonia species including C. verticillata with tiers of podetia and Cladonia subulata, some red-fruited ones and others awaiting identification. Lots of bog myrtle provided a bark habitat for corticolous crusts, including Mycoglaena myricae, a non-lichenised fungus with dark perithecia and a pale ring of thallus around each one, found wherever the host grows, and various Lecanora species. Where there was lignum (a finger post and fence rails) the lichen was dripping off. Here we found Xanthoria ucrainica, Usnea subfloridana, Pyrrhospora quernea and Placynthiella icmalea.

Chris tested a reindeer lichen and concluded it was Cladonia ciliata var ciliata (the grey-brown version lacking usnic acid) – browner towards the down-pointing tips than other similar Cladonia and predominantly dichotomous at the apices. It had an orangey/red Pd reaction and was KC-, distinguishing it from C. portentosa (KC+y, Pd-) and C. arbuscula (KC+y, Pd+rust-red).  This test might have helped: “The bright UV fluorescence at the base of C. portentosa is especially useful for rapid separation from C. arbuscula.”

Further on Peter Bisset confirmed Flavoparmelia soredians on the hand rail of a bridge with K+ yellow going red.

The two different habitats very close to each other made for an interesting day’s licheneering. Thanks to Russell Gomm for suggesting the visit and the Cumbria Wildlife Trust and RSPB for permission to visit their reserves and take specimens. And thanks to Roger for sharing his botany knowledge.

Text: Chris Cant and Caz Walker. Photos: Chris Cant, Peter Bisset, Caz Walker

Lichen Trip report

Hartside Lichen Report 25 July 2023

Peltigeratastic Hartside!

Hartside Pass stands at 580m (1904 feet) above sea level. There are cracking views over the Eden Valley to the Lake District Fells and across the Solway to Criffel beyond Dumfries. You can see the weather coming in. And that’s where we gathered, a week after we were meant to (blame the weather forecast) and 5 years after the café burnt down. It was July and most of us wore winter hats.

After a short journey down the road (and an admire of the Lady’s Bedstraw) we veered off on a track towards the old Barytes mine. A gate with fine growths of Parmelia sulcata and Ochrolechia androgyna detained us for a little while: there was noticeably less lichen growth around the impressive nail heads in the top rail. The first concrete buildings had good growths of Collema auriforme and Collema crispum, together with nesting swallows.

A further building provided even more distraction: there was Bilimbia sabuletorum and Agonimia tristicula on the mosses; Aspicilia contorta and bright growths of Caloplaca flavovirescens, Leptogium gelatinosum and Collema cristatum among others on the concrete roofs. The sun shone briefly, matching the only Xanthoria parietina we saw all day. And then we headed down into the mine valley proper, towards where Caz and Chris had done a recce earlier in the month.

There were boulders, grassy and mossy patches and shaly mine spoil terraces, interspersed with steep slopes and little outcrops. There was limestone and sometimes sandstone, together with some obviously mineralised boulders. We leapfrogged from substrate to substrate, ticking off Cetraria muricata, then C. aculeata; Cladonia furcata then C. gracilis and C. potentosa. Rabbit droppings provided some entertainment and interest: there were fungal fruiting bodies, but were they lichenised? Samples were taken- just in case. Wooden posts had Hypocenomyce scalaris, Hypogymina physodes and tubulosa, a variety of Cladonias. “Do you want to see my other rabbit dropping?” asked Chris.

And so to lunch. And the Peltigeras. There was P. hymenina and lots of P. membranacea. The reddish looking tomentose one was P. rufescens and the one that looked a bit like P. membranacea but had curly rhizines like the hair on a Belted Galloway must have been P. canina. There was P. neckeri, with black (or at least dark) apothecia. Underneath it is strikingly dark in the middle, and has dramatic white “net holes” between the veins. Peltigera didactyla was new to me, the younger lobes having a lovely pattern of soredia. P. venosa was new too, a lovely greeny colour and dramatically fertile. Caz pointed out the rounded cephalodia on the underside. It seemed confined to a particular level of small shaly waste. Searches elsewhere drew a blank.

“Have you seen any P. leucophlebia here?” Asked David. “Cos there’s lots lower down the beck.” Within a couple of minutes he had found some amongst the moss. And the more we looked, the more we found, bright green from the recent rains, and half buried among the mosses.

As the rains came in, we headed down a little, to where there were more acid-rock loving species like Parmelia omphalodes on the boulders. The shaly terrace didn’t reveal any more venosa. But there was a lovely underhang with lots of Diploschistes scruposus on rock, Dibaeis baeomyces and Trapeliopsis pseudogranulosa on the soil.

An old metal mine bogey provided some puzzles. Rhizocarpon oederi was identified, and whilst we wanted the sorediate Lecanora to be L. handelii it was probably L. soralifera. A lovely mine arch detained us for a few minutes; there was Peltigera praetextata (at last!) above it on some concrete; Gyalecta jenenis on a limestone boulder and Cladonia pocillum on moss. Chris found Lichenomphalia alpina, a bright yellow hi-vis mushroom shining out of the turf. And with that, and the weather looking to close in, we trudged up towards the cars.

Our list wasn’t that long, but it’s a very interesting site, with the variety of substrates giving a wide range of mainly terricolous and saxicolous lichens. Further explorations would no doubt reveal a lot more. And someone very knowledgeable could make a long list! The Peltigera venosa was a real find, and it would be worth making further explorations of other terraces to see if there is more. Unfortunately, the vegetation growth on the terraces and tree plantings around the site probably mean its days are numbered.

Text: Pete Martin. Photos: Chris Cant, David Clarke, Geoffrey Haigh, Pete Martin, Caz Walker

Lichen Trip report

Brown Cove Lichen Report 11 June 2023

Participants: Geoffrey Haigh, Raymond and Sue Griffiths, Pete Martin, Caz Walker, Chris Cant, Jack Tomlinson, Clare Shaw and reporter Peter Bisset

After a long spell of hot dry weather, things looked more promising for the eight lichenologists than the solitary bryologist. Clare Shaw searching along the beck and tarn has already reported on her findings and pointed out some to us. The blazing sun and steady climb dictated even more slowly moving exploration than normal. What a contrast to the Naddle meet, how lucky we are to live in a country with such distinct seasons. I followed Clare up the beck admiring the colourful mounds of bryophytes with little clue as to what I was looking at and came across some Peltigera, I called it out to Caz who accepted my membranacea determination without climbing down to me. Looking at the photographs later it was clear that this was mixed with P. praetextata, a new record for the monad.

Keppel Cove dam
Keppel Cove dam

Brown Cove has an interesting base rich chemistry, but being shallow with plenty of green algae – not appealing for a wild swim. Known as the only UK site for Dermatocarpon deminuens and intensively surveyed by Alan Orange the monad is well recorded. However, it was good checking what could still be found. The intermittently inundated shore line with the water level now very low made it easier to spot the Dermatocarpon, jelly lichens and Ionapsis lacustris. D. luridum and D. intestiniforme could be distinguished by the former going green on wetting, but any others need lab work to be sure. Pete pointed out Lathagrium (Collema) dichotomum on the rocks, a species normally found under water.

An extended lunch break is always good for looking at the lichens on the rocks under your legs, a dropped sandwich often extends the species list, Lecanora soralifera was one of these.

Being a somewhat superficial lichenologist I like the showy or unusual, Umbilicaria cylindrica and Ophioparma ventosa provided the former. Agonimia tristicula one of the latter. However, the high point of my day was when the track crossed the corner of a new monad on the way back down. Peering into a sandy/peaty hole to contribute to the quick assessment, an unusual looking light green lobate species in amongst the Micarea lignaria had me opening page 44 of Dobson (7th edition), generic keys – ‘foliose’ but I wasn’t getting anywhere. Caz immediately identified it as Baeomyces placophyllus, new to me and saving me a frustrating time in the keys where the genus is ‘crustose’.

Baeomyces placophyllus
Baeomyces placophyllus

It was a hot day for a hike so thanks for arranging parking at Greenside. A fitness event in Glenridding would in any case have made parking impossible at any price!

Text and photos: Peter Bisset

Bryophyte Trip report

Brown Cove bryophyte trip report 11-6-23

Another blazing hot day was forecast, this time with the possibility of thunderstorms, so it wasn’t entirely surprising that I was the only bryologist that was up for the exposed slog up to Brown Cove in conditions where all the bryophytes would likely be too dessicated to identify. Fortunately there was a good lichen turnout and I was promised that there was some water still in Brown Cove, so we set off with hopeful hearts.

We hadn’t gone far before I spotted one of the papillose, Canescentia group of Racomitrium by the side of the track, which I later identified as R. elongatum. As we ascended the track there were small ditches and drainage channels running off the hillside which did indeed still have some water, and where Philonotis fontana, Dichodontium palustre and Scapania undulata flourished. We stopped for a water break – and to examine a large rock by the path – which had Andreaea rupestris and A. rothii, Racomitrium fasciculare and possible Racomitrium heterostichum. Sadly no Gymnomitrion, which surprisingly seemed to be absent from the whole site.

We passed the old dam and considered the enormous hole and the poor quality of the work as Pete told us the story of its very short life. The original dam, which seems to have been an earth barrier, was put up to provide electricity for the Greenside lead mine, but breached in a storm in 1927, causing extensive damage in Glenridding. It was replaced by the concrete dam which can be seen today in about 1929, but it seems to have failed almost immediately and the reservoir and dam were abandoned in 1931. A little beyond the dam we made our way down the earth bank of the original dam to the beck, which we then followed up to its source at the tarn in Brown Cove. The beck was bryophyte heaven, with huge mounds of golden Sciuro-hypnum plumosum and green Hygrohypnum ochraceum, with smaller amounts of Chionoloma tenuirostre, the ‘aromatic’ Jungermannia exsertifolia and some mounds of Amphidium mougeotii. Reaching the cove, we found that the tarn was a very shallow pool with green clumps of algae – I felt better about forgetting my swimming costume.

After a pleasant lunch we explored the edges of the tarn where rare lichens had previously been recorded. A rock on the edge had a sprawling moss which later turned out to be Antitrichia curtipendula – a nice find as it is a formerly (relatively) common moss which seems to be struggling. The ’grappling hook’ shaped teeth on the leaves are very distinctive.

Antitrichia curtipendula leaf tips
Antitrichia curtipendula leaf tips

I thought I’d make my way up the beck above the tarn, towards the ridge, in the hopes that higher altitude might bring more variety. However the species seemed to be mainly more of the same, though growing in abundance. There was a pleasant breeze though at this height, and there were ring ouzels calling, though I couldn’t see them. The flowering plants were also lovely – lots of Starry and Mossy saxifrage and Alpine ladies mantle. After pushing on for a while in the hopes that the next waterfall might bring something new, I eventually decided to call it a day and return to the lichenologists who were still at the tarn.

Checking my list of previous records I realised that there was one very interesting liverwort recorded just above the water level of the tarn – Porella obtusata. There are I think four records from Cumbria, all around Ullswater, but I’d never seen it before. I finally found it after completing a full tour of the lake, right below our lunch spot.

Porella obtusata – golden brown shoots with large, plane lobules a similar size to the underleaves:

Porella obtusata – golden brown shoots with large, plane lobules a similar size to the underleaves
Porella obtusata – golden brown shoots with large, plane lobules a similar size to the underleaves

Heading back down the beck I wanted to have a closer look at some large rocks I noticed on the way up, and was pleased to see Andreaea alpina and Anomodon julacea.

Andreaea alpina

Andreaea alpina

Anomodon julacea growing in profusion with deceptively small Dichodontium pellucidum.

Although the thunderstorms hadn’t materialized, the heat was increasing as we descended into the valley, so some of us beat a hasty retreat and enjoyed a well-earned cold drink at the youth hostel bar. All in all, a very pleasant and rewarding day.

Text and photos: Clare Shaw

Lichen Trip report

Burnbanks trip report 18-5-2023

Ten of us gathered on a sunny May morning to look at lichens. We crossed the road, went through a gate and there was a slope. Small outcrops beckoned. The bracken wasn’t yet tall enough to be in the way. Yellowhammers wheezed about no cheese. This was Caz and Chris’s local patch, and they had an itinerary planned…

Outcrop one had some very impressive Massalongia carnosa: it was strange to see it dry. There were lichens to explain to first timers: Rhizocarpon geographicum; a conspiracy of Cladonias; Ochrolechia androgyna to demonstrate a C+ red reaction on; Pertusaria corallina for K+ yellow; Ephebe lanata to stroke.

Heading across the slope (and edging a little bit higher) we came to an outcrop where Chris and Caz had previously found Lecidea fuliginosa. It’s not in Dobson, so there had been some uncertainty. I’d not seen it before: it’s an interesting brown nobbly crust, with darker black-brown apothecia. My photos suggest the lichen equivalent of home-made chocolate chip cookies, but maybe I’m taking the food analogies too far. There was also a Small Copper butterfly, interesting little still-lifes of Cladonia furcata and very fertile Xanthoparmelia conspersa; a good example of Lecanora sulphurea taking over (i.e. parasitising the algae of) another lichen. Was it Tephromela atra or Lecanora gangaleoides? I must admit I didn’t check.

There was Ochroclechia tartarea and parella to compare; Diploschistes scruposus hiding yellow tinged behind an outcrop, and Lecidea grisella’s cracks to ponder. We found some shiny Cetraria aculeata too.

Lunch was taken in the shelter of a little quarry, which occupied us for a while afterwards. There was Opegrapha zonata and O.gyrocarpa (now renamed Enterographa zonata and Gyrographa gyrocarpa respectively) to discuss, and some evidence of metals in the rock: Tremolecia atrata looked rusty and there were Stereocaulons aplenty. I’d not tried the KC test on S. evolutum before: it gives a fleeting “violet”. Well, a different colour from the C and the K anyway.

A little further uphill and there was a dramatic boulder: Bryoria fuscescens cascaded for several feet down the lower side. There was Tuckermanopsis chlorophylla to compare with nearby Platismatia glauca, hi-vis Arthrorhaphis citrinella and an intriguing Lecanora with pearly pruinose apothecia: C-, K+ yellow, P+ orange. There was a suggestion that this was Lecanora subcarnea, but the chemistry didn’t agree with Dobson. Though it looked like the picture. The puzzlement was resolved back at base when it transpired that the chemistry listed in LGBI3 agreed with our “in the field” records: result! Another new one for me.

Over the top of the next knoll was a little area of heath. Hands and knees alternated with standing and staring at our toes. Apart from Cladonia we found a couple of pieces of Cetraria islandica: cue a debate about pronunciation. And a small population of Cetraria muricata: much more spiny, closer together, pseudocyphellae not in pits.

A short wander took us to the slope overlooking Haweswater and the green expanse of Naddle woods. The Willow Warbler chorus that had been with us all day continued. There was Protoparmelia badia on the final erratic, a last chance of the day to say “ornithocoprophilous” (whilst looking at probable Xanthoria ucrainica) and a great expanse of Parmelia omphalodes, split by a line of bilberry.

Thank you everyone for coming, Caz and Chris for the planning, and the weather gods for being kind. All in all it was a very good start to the rocky summer season (as opposed to the winter woods).  

Text: Pete Martin
Photos: Chris Cant, John Adams, Pete Martin