Sunday, 21 August 2016

YNU Meeting at Colt Park - incl - Klebsormidium crenulatum

The YNU Vice County 64 Field Meeting held at Ingleborough  on 20 August 2016 had weather designed to cancel out the three hot sunny days earlier in the week.

Actually the venue- Colt Park Barn - Natural England - was an excellent base. It meant that those who wanted to, could stay indoors in the afternoon, using microscopes if necessary, to look up details about the plants and animals we had found.

I even made a start at listing the mosses I had brought back in a bag... and was informed that the tiny woodlouse (c 4mm long) I had  found in my Philinotis fontana (moss) was in fact Trichoniscus pusillus the Common Soil Woodlouse, which is the commonest woodlouse in Britain. 
We (well Roger N) also found the Rosy Woodlouse Androniscus dentiger which is pink, up to 6mm long and is much less common and lives in lime rich conditions - from caves to brickwork.

Our group had restricted our botanical recording to a small area that had recently been fenced off to protect newly planted native trees beside a steep streamlet.    The thicker soil had Heather and Green-ribbed Sedge; other areas had calcareous flushes with Bird's-eye Primrose, Selaginella and Butterwort.

Klebsormidium crenulatum

On the return to the barn we passed through a gate at the top of the field. the wall there was made of sandstone.. and many of the stones had Klebsormidium crenulatum  -  the filamentous green alga that is increasing in Britain due to increased nitrogen oxides in the air. 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Agrostis canina - Velvet Bent

Velvet Bent has a typical Agrostis "Christmas tree panicle with tiny spikelets", but the spikelets usually have awns  (Use a lens).  The leaves are narrow, usually less than 2mm wide, and the ligules are long and narrow. 

The emerging leaf is rolled and hairless (as in nearly all other Agrostis species)

Agrostis canina grows in damp/wet low nutrient places, - 
often with rushes.  

It has stolons with several shoots growing at each node- so the shoots and leaves are slender and tiny. With so many shoots and leaves growing close together it looks like velvet.

It is easier to observe this late in the summer, when the stolons with their side shoots have had time to grow.

A. canina at Thornton Ellers (Lower Derwent Valley NNR)
20 July 2016

A. canina at Thornton Ellers

Comparison with similar species:- 

Agrostis stolonifera also has stolons. It has one side shoot per stolon node, and its blades are usually greater than 2mm wide, whereas:
  Agrostis canina has several shoots per stolon node and the blades are less than 2mm wide.

A. canina at Straloch Moraine, Kindrogan July 2016,
growing amongst rushes.

Closer view

From my experience the panicles are often a little more  open than the extremely similar panicles of Agrostis vinealis.
However A vinealis has short rhizomes, with about 3 white scales on the rhizome before it turns upwards and forms a new  green leafy shoot.

Agrostis vinealis - Brown Bent


Thursday, 2 June 2016

Wild June 2106 - Day 2

2nd June: Resurfacing the road in Craven.

Well, watching them is an outside activity. And without roads we would find it much harder to access parts of the countryside. So well done to the men doing this hard work.

They "taped over the drain cover. then once the 
road tarrers had gone they peeled of the tape and revealed the cover,

Wild June 2016 - Day 1

Day 1 of Do Something Wild every day in June finds me at Selside helping people from Manchester University carry out research..
1st June - wearing ski jacket, heavy waterproof jacket and leggings under thick trousers
Look at the angle of the grass stems. showed that that night the next morning the apparent temperature was less than 0 degrees due to the wind chill factor.

One of the functions of the experiment is to investigate the effect of drought on vegetation and soils.

Wild-flowers of Malham Tarn talk - 1 June

Almost 400 species of wildflower can be found on Malham Tarn Estate:- 

Out of a total of about 1600-2000 species in Britain, depending on whether you split species such as dandelions, hawkweeds, brambles etc). 

So we have 1/5 to /1/4 the British flora at Malham Tarn.

Malham Tarn - perched over 1000ft above sea level, on the backbone of England, at the water divide 
between the Ribble (going the the west coast), and 
the Aire and the Wharfe going to the East Coast.

J (red waistcoat) showing leaflet after talk
I have made an illustrated leaflet (10 sides apart from front and back cover) showing the wildflowers in bloom in June near the board walk at Malham Tarn Fen, and my talk would include some pictures from these.

Malham Tarn area is an SSSI and a National Nature Reserve and a Ramsar Site and a SAC (Special Area of Conservation  = Site of European importance). I would be able to show people in Settle some of its features.

I would also be able to use the presentation at the long weekend course I am running at Malham Tarn Field Centre on "Wild Flowers" - starting  Fri 3 June.

This is the third year I have held a "Wild flowers talk" at St John's Church Hall, Settle - with the joint aim of
a) raising money for the Rainforest Fund
b) sharing knowledge and enthusiasm about local wildlife and wild places.

The rest of this post is about how the talk went (not the content of the talk)

I did not know how many people to expect. Due to other commitments I had not had time to publicise it in the local paper; Also it clashed with an outdoor Craven Conservation Group Meeting, so one or two people who might have come would be going to that.
But it was featured in the Flowers of the Dales Booklet, and I had put up posters in the usual best places in Settle. And emailed friends on my "Events around Settle" list.

So I turned up at 6.30 with all the equipment and boxes and loaded them into the Large Meeting Room.  I was thinking, "I wonder, if no-one comes, then perhaps I can invite the Line Dancers meeting in the large hall (7.30pm on Wednesdays - excellent fun, exercise and "Trucking" type music)  - to come and watch a short show in their Tea break."

But I was really pleased with how the whole evening went: - So thank you everyone who came:-

1. Two people (on holiday) came very early - which was encouraging - I knew it would run.. there would be people!!

2. In the end there were 14 people.- The was a great size because it meant we were a small enough group for everyone to be introduced to each other, and learn each others names and to have lively conversations amongst each other over coffee afterwards... But big enough to raise a little profit for the rainforest.

Three sets of two people on holiday, including one university student studying conservation.
Two (newish) tutors from Malham Tarn Field Centre
 Four sets of friends/contacts who had learned of it through my "Events around Settle" News email, or through my telling them.

Everyone had been to the Tarn before - in two cases on Field Courses 20 and 50 years ago.

I am grateful to:
1. The Flowers of the Dales booklet and publicity for giving me the incentive to run the talk at all
2. Settle Tourist Office (which is how one set of people found out)
3. The people at St John's who maintain the building, rooms, and facilities enabling me to hold the talk. 
4. The fact that the Digital Projector worked straight off.
5. Modern technology.. meaning that when I emailed the friend the day before to ask if I could borrow the digital projector .. only to discover  that - whoo oh  - she was in Cyprus..  that she told me how to access a key and get the projector from her house.

I sold several of my rainforest cards.  I also sold two copies of "Wildflowers on the Edge", at cost price, having just ordered five copies for the wild flowers course I am teaching at Pateley Bridge.

And we raised (after expenses for hall, tea etc) £50 - which can save half an acre of rainforest!!  Thank you all.

Here is the poster advertising the event:-

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Settle Soup Number 4 and Pitch for Settle Dementia Action Awareness

What projects should we be supporting in Settle?

The three Pitches at the third Settle Soup was held on Wednesday 13th April at Victoria Hall:

  1. Settle Dementia Action Alliance Launch - 20 May 1-4pm  (Claire Holliday)
  2. Craven Refugee Network (John Launder)
  3. Craven Development Project (Ann Harding)
Cauliflower soup and pepper and sweet potato soup - tickled our taste buds

Joseph chaired the meeting. 
Jo told us about Settle Timebank. 
Margaret showed people about Leeds Credit Union.

All three of the main pitches interesting projects, of relevance to all in the Settle Area:

Settle Dementia Action Alliance will encourage Traders and groups in Settle to partake in free "How to be more helpful to people with dementia" training - and once they've had the short session, then they can display a Dementia Aware sticker in their shop,

In answer to the question "Please give us three tips to help people with dementia, Claire replied:-

Thi topic is important since one in three people over 80, maybe over 65 will one day get dementia - and people much younger than that can get it- so it affects a lot of us
20 May 1-4pm Launch of Settle Dementia Action Alliance. Vic Hall

Next Settle Soup: Wednesday 
17: 24 May: Settle Soup: Victoria Hall 6pm-8pm
Come  and  enjoy  friendship,  soup  and  find out  what is going
on in Settle.
If  you  have  a  project  in Settle that you would like to tell other
people about or raise money for this (or maybe a future SOUP)
is  an  opportunity.

4  people  talk  for  4 minutes each about their

projects.  We  discuss  the  projects over soup, and then vote for the
most worthy or inspiring project -and the winner takes the door money.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Monad SD 8768 - 1- Turf Hill

Starting a new monad today (4th May 2014) (and tetrad): SD 8768 :
Today with the help of Sue and Les Knight.

from 415m to 540m in this monad
 and to 591m (on Knowe fell) in SD 8668
and 613m on the ridge leading towards Fountains Fell in the highest part of the tetrad SD8669

Today we visited Turf Hill which I used to visit from  the Field Centre to study soils: Rankers/Rendzinas (CG9- Blue moor-grass grassland); Brown Earth (U4-Common Bent grassland); Acid Soil (U5 - Mat-grass); and Podsol (U6 -Heath Rush)

No trees in the tetrad -
Just stone walls -mostly limestone with odd bits of sandstone/gritstone, grassland, bog and occasional patches of limestone outcrops/pavement -

But there are many micro-habitats within this that give home to different species of moss and lichen, which I'll deal with below

Having surveyed the adjacent monad I was delighted to look in parallel micro habitats and be able to predict what I might find: (See table lower down)

"Let's look for 20 or 22 mosses, then stop and look for 20 Lichens" I said. So, once in our monad, we did this.  We progressed a whole 50metres within an hour and a quarter.. by which time it was lunch time.

We sat on some limestone rocks in a dip near the wall, in the sun, and sheltered from the wind. A walker appeared, descending from Fountains Fell. He had walked up via the Pennine Way from Malham in the morning - and was now returning on a different route.

We had seen two lapwings - not the 100s I used to see 30 years ago - but we had seen two. and a curlew.

There were skylarks and meadow pipits.

This is Candelariella coralliza.
It grows on the top side of acid rocks which have harsh conditions- both heat and cold -
and which may be bird perches and thus get extra nutrients 

Some amazingly big Aspicillia contorta 
on a limestone rock in a wall.
with a tuft of Schistidium moss

Collema fuscovirens - This black jelly lichen is quite thin.
It grows on the tops of rocks 
and the middle part of the thallus has usually blown away
Thelidium decipiens (probably) 

Thelidium decipiens

We spent time searching in the scree in this dry valley
 (that leads down to Stangill Barn, and thence to Cowsde beck)
Les told us of a lichen that looks like a wiggle worm that grows on BURIED scree, that Brian Coppins had once shown him. We failed to find this. But we found Farnoldia jurana (tiny black dots on scree stones) and Opegrapha dolomitica (saxicola) 

Farnoldia jurana

Opegrapha dolomitica (saxicola) 

Limestone wall (N Side) Neckera complanataVerrucaria nigrescens
Sandstone in wall (Top/N side)
Parmelia saxatilis
Foot of wall (more moist)Plagiochyla porelloides, Plagiomnium undulatum
Moss on Limestone wall
Wooden fence post
They are a bit hard
Limestone pavement- side of shady grykeThamnobryum alopecurum
Limestone pavement bottom of shady grikeConcocephalum
North facing limestone cliff face and crevice
Solorina saccata, Lepraria nivalis
South facing screeNoneFarnoldia jurana, Opegrapha dolomitica
Turfy long limestone grasslandHylocomium splendens
Pile of acid and basic stones in a depressionRacomitrium lanuginosumCladonia furcata and rangiformis
Polytrichum commune tussocksPolytrichum commune 
Sphagnum areasSphagnum palustre etc

Well we covered one field.
There is another 100m (300ft) of ascent in this monad, and a further 50m in the next.. will that reveal different habitats?

Rough counts gave just over 45 Mosses and liverworts and just over 40 Lichens. I'll give the actual totals once we have checked our packets.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Tour de Yorkshire Preparations


19 April 2016 above Pately Bridge

Ripon turning above Pately Bridge - I hope the Daffodils will last until 29th April

THe daffoldils really are quite stunning at the top of Greenhow Hill.
And Houses en route have their flags ready to wave the riders on.

No shortage of signs here.
. actually I think the cyclists just carry straight on.

Yes, we're at Threshfield - and still Tour signs.
Here we are outside Threshfield Court,
where Mum used to live. 20 April


But then we had lots of cold weather.. which is bad for the new born lambs because the grass is not growing and the mothers cannot get  enough grass to eat

It is the 28th April now - they have closed the centre of Settle to traffic.

I drove up to Bukhaw/Bucker Brow to collect some grasses for the course I will be teaching tomorrow night. It started sleeting.

I bought a Yorkshire flag from The House that Jack Built

And am waving it on the market place. on the skyline you should be able to see the top of the Settle letters and the flag on Castleberg.

I hope everyone enjoys the race on Friday.

A sunny day

On 10th April everyone woke up to snow.

But by midday it was warm enough to sit out on the pavements in Settle

Nellie and I went for a ride Horton for afternoon tea.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Tetrad SD86-4

31 March. Thursday: Sun was forecast.  (See also The first trip to this tetrad)

I parked at the Layby, after Robert's barn and field but before the bend before Stangill Barn.
I joined  the path which goes parallel to the wall to the north end of the field where there is a gate which goes into Turf Hill Field. This wall had a few gritstone capstones. I photographed Lecanora polytropa and Pertusaria corallina  and Acarospora fuscata.

I paused at the gate. We used to pause here with the 6th-formers on Soils Days at Malham Tarn Field Centre, and talk about lichen and moss colonisation as a first step in soil formation.

So here I am 30 years later looking at mosses and lichens.

At SD880(05)  687(06) almost out of the monad,  was some Molina and Juncus squarrosus - podsol vegetation:
Phew. it just managed to be in the square! (NVC U6).

Plagiothecium undulatum. Hypnum jutlandicum,   then further on some tussocks of Sphagnum capillifolium, Polytichum strictum, Polytrichum commune, Dicranum scoparium.. and well that was it ..
At SD 880(87) 688(95) 20m uphill and west of the gate was a slope with shallow soil, lots of Carex and Sesleria and Breutelia chrysocoma. But I could not find anything else new.

As I walked down towards Stangill I met the top of the "dry valley" which had one small north facing cliff .. Maybe I'll write more on this cliff another time.. But I now have Gymnostemum sp on my list.

Tetrad SD 86 3 - Stangill Bridge Bend

27 March:
I planned to park and then walk up to Turf Hill. But then realised I had valuables in the boot of the car (P.A.) and I did not want to walk far away for fear of theft from the car..  So I proceeded to what I shall call "Stangill Bridge Bend" - almost a bridge- over a dry valley, and parked at the quarry-let there .  In this "micro-quarry" there was a rock with a white version of Cladonia poccilum. The quarry slope had Blue Moorgrass (Sesleria caerulea).

I walked down the "dry valley - the sides were tussocky and had occasional Hylocomium splendens but included Blue-moor grass - so seemed basic. I found some Dicranum and thought it was D scoparium (likes acid places) .. and then later realised was Dicranum bonjeani, not scoparium.

At the Pennine Way gate through the wall the mosses looked different and the ground was wet.. but they all turned out to be dry limestone wall mosses, just recently flooded..

Amongst the hummocks there  was Fissidens at last - dubius and bryoides -  and Ditrichum gacile, and Mnium marginatum 

It was windy and cold.

Total Score is now 42: Huh that is still level 2. Needs to be 44 for level 3.  But that means on the next walk I shall definitely gain level 3.

Tetrad SD86 2:

Fri 25 March
After attending the good Friday Passion Play in Settle, and sittings inside sending pictures to the Craven Herald, Methodist Recorder, West Yorkshre Ecumenical Council etc
I drove up to SD 86 tetrad z again.

And looked on the verge at Stangill Barn, and Stangill Barn plantation (tiny patch of trees - mostly planted since the snow of 1979 when the sheep and rabbits ring-barked the old ones).
Ah new habitats:- Nettles on the verge. - revealed Ciriphyllum piliferum 
Wall shaded under trees: - one patch of Anomodon viticulosus
Wall of Barn:  Tortula muralis

Well I've scraped up to 27 species. Now in Band 2 (out of 9)

Tetrad SD86 1: - Recording Wharfedale Mosses: 1

23 March

These next few posts about a Tetrad (2x2 km square) in Hectad (10x10km square) 86 are put up as a self indulgent reminder of what I did on these days.. whilst surveying for Bryophytes (mosses) -- - and probably only of interest to others who do such obscure/esoteric activities.

Dear X,

It was good meeting you at the Yorkshire Naturalists Union Conference at York Last week. I was pleased to see your maps of  Wharfedale showing the distributions of all the bryophytes you have so far recorded on a tetrad (2by2m) basis.

Thank you for sending me the map showing how many bryophytes have been recorded in each tetrad.
I see that the scoring system is:
1 1 - 21
2 22 - 42
3 43 - 63
4 64 - 84
5 85 - 105
6 106 - 126
7 127 - 147
8 148 - 168
9 169 - 191

I have chosen to study tetrad SD8868
That's the top right tetrad in the hectad SD 86.
I fact I shall start with the 1km square SD 8868. It is  at the water divide between Airedale and Wharfedale, It is on the road making life easy for me  1km north of  Waterhouses and Malham Tarn Field Centre.

So  I took my car up on 23 March morning and did the tourist exercise of
staying within 100m of the car.. for an hour or two

It  was  fascinating  working  out  where  the true "water divide" is
between Airedale and Wharfedale.

"I'll find 22 species -no problem" I thought "and get up to level 2...
maybe even over 42 and get to level 3?"


The  habitat  is  grassland -acres - (with 2 species of bryophyte)
and one limestone wall.  There was a big difference in lichens on the north and south side of the wall.

and - big treat - at the end of my morning: 1 sycamore tree.

Well,  I may have come  home  with over 22 specimens.. but could only write 18
names on the card.. Well that is level 1. Hey Ho.

I have a BIG pile envelopes labelled Schistidium, Ulota
and Orthotrichum and Didymodon...

I also made a list of 22 Lichens that I could name.

I  met  Robert  Harrison, the farmer at Malham Tarn who I had not seen for several years. He pointed to his sheep - He now has "Clins" he said - not  horned sheep. I looked it up on the internet.. spelled "Lleyns" - so I have learned a new breed. They have white faces and no horns, and crucially, they don't jump over walls as do horned sheep such as Swaledales and Dalesbred

We heard some curlew.

But no Lapwings.
We used to hear hundreds 30 years ago here.
 "The Lapwings have gone" he said.

Well  I'll  go  up  another  day  and  venture  a  bit further over the
grassland.. when it is a bit warmer..


Thursday, 31 March 2016

Caloplaca flavescens

Learn your Lichens 9

Learn your Lichens Series
1. Arthonia radiata
6. Lecanora gangaleoides
7. Physcia tenella
9. Caloplaca flavescens

Caloplaca means beautiful patches

flavescens means becoming yellow, or yellowish

I think of this lichen as "Common orange pleated limestone lichen"

The edge of the thallus is pleated or placodioid.

It grows on lots of limestone walls around Settle.

Here it is growing at the porch entrance to Horton in Ribblesdale Church

Can you see it here? The bright orange one.
Remember to come to the Beginners Lichens workshop on 2nd April, 10am at Horton churchyard.