Sunday, 14 April 2013

Ten Secrets of a Bryophytes and Lichens trip to Longridge Fell on April 2013 with the NWNU

and a link to photos of what we saw

This post will tell you about a fun day when lots was achieved in open fresh air surroundings with good company.. Read on.... perhaps you will feel inspired to come on another trip.

Reading the map before setting off. Sun! Warmth!
1. Longridge Fell, near Clitheroe, is the most southerly  'fell' in Britain (The other high points further south, such as Pendle Hill are are called Hills not Fells).

We parked at Grid Ref  SD664396, Vice County 60.  See route at 3.63 km (well almost 3 miles with  deviations to find plants) 114 m of ascent., to 310m above sea level.   5 hours for 3 miles.

Longridge Fell Woodland
- we only covered the bottom left corner
2. The habitat is:-
Conifer plantation with clearings, 
Felled conifer plantation, 
Willow and occasional oak beside the track, 
Millstone grit wall, 
and a little wet heath/rush area. 
(The morning was sunny, there was a light shower at lunch time and at 3.30 it started raining more seriously. We were above the Ribble Valley - to the east we could see Pendle, to the west flat lands and shiny white refelection of poly tunnels, and plastic sheeting over young crops. The buds were not yet breaking on deciduous trees - this is about only the third warm(ish) day this spring. We must have walked about 3 miles altogether)

3. We found some COLURA!! (This is a VERY RARE Liverwort - well it was rare about 20 years ago -
As this is the fourth time I have seen it might not be THAT rare any more .. But it may be a new vice couty record. Every time I have been with people who find it we get excited - so I hope you dear reader are excited too.)
Colura calyptrifolia  (Calypra means hood) 
(It is the green clump in the middle. the whole clump is about 5mm across). 
The blue grey discs are part of a lichen called Normandina pulchella 
They look like ascocarps but they are in fact squamules

4. We found Cryphaea growing on a couple of trees- this is not rare but it is very distinctive.
Its primary shoots are tightly appressed to the bark. The secondary shoots are the conspicuous ones,  growing  in parallel with each other and sticking out from the tree branch. The capsules grow on what look like tiny tertiary shoots sticking out from the side.

Cryphaea heteromalla - Lateral Cryphaea

Dimerella lutea - these ascocarps are 2mm across.
5. We found two uncommon lichens: Dimerella lutea and Normandina pulchella (see picture above with Colura) both of which may be new Vice County records.

6. I learned (or revised) several new lichens, especially types of "Parmelia" - "big grey foliose lichens." (Several of the Parmelias have now changed their genus name)

7. The conversation kept repeating itself "This would not have been here 10 years ago".

When we found a plant that  20  years ago would have been very rare here (due to sulphur dioxide pollution/ acid rain) - one of the members would quip "We find that in the centre of Blackpool or we find that behind the gasworks in.. in south Lancashire").. 
So I felt happy to think that that, while, till now my repertoire of "big grey foliose lichens" (for the past 30 years) had consisted predominantly of four species  (P. saxatile, P sulcata, Hypogymnia physodes and  occasionally Hypogymnia tuberosa)  this was not due to my lack of observation - but due to the absence of other species due to acid rain in the past.

9. I found some Klebsormidium crenulatum. ( aka Nuisance alga / green filamentous alga / nitrogen compound loving alga)
Klebsormidium crenulatum
 I probably find it now every time a visit a place with millstone grit walls - but I will record it none the less. This indicates nitrogen oxide /nitrogen compound pollution - This is a reason why some lichens are appearing and taking the place of others.
10. I had a very enjoyable day in good company of participants of the NorthWest Naturalists Union Bryophytes and Lichen Section group 50% of whom seemed to be called. Mike. Thank to all

Look at that lichen

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