Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Monday, 7 March 2011

British mosses

Spiky Bog-Moss (Sphagnum squarrosum)

Common Haircap (Polytrichum commune var. commune)

Left home yesterday lunchtime to the distant sound of a chainsaw in action - nothing like an improvement in the weather to bring out the lumberjack in you! Destination was one of my local patches known as 'The British', named after the now long trashed British Ironworks. I arrived just in time to witness a Skoda saloon climb to the top of a large spoil tip, turn, descend, and rejoin the public highway. Didn't notice a valid tax disc as it passed me, but I'm sure they'll have had one.

The British is a playground of accessible brown and green space for local communities, valued by some abused by many. Nonetheless early successional plant communities sit in harmony with ancient woodland habitat making it a naturalist's delight. I'm trying to get into bryophytes but as a difficult group I need to put in some fieldwork to build confidence so today's objective was photography and voucher specimens. 

Of the few I was able to identify straight off were a number of sphagnum species including spiky, papillose and flexuous bog-mosses. There were some impressive yellow meadow ant mounds capped with common haircap. I took samples of about twenty other mosses now awaiting a rainy evening to identify. Birds were thin on the ground but for a party of about 40 fieldfare and a half a dozen or so redwing.

A very enjoyable couple of hours ended where it began with another form of countryside abuse, this time a numb skull dressed in full urban gorilla attire discharging his air gun with gay abandon. 

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