Wednesday 29 February 2012

Lichens of Malham Tarn Fen

We're off to the woods today!
Allan Pentecost is leading the first of two introductory lichen days, as part of a series of introductory days run by the Lichen Society at FSC centres throughout the country - His second day will be 31 March

Today I am one of his eight students. We set off through the cutting . (N.B. this page has not yet been checked by Allan)
Past the snowdrops at the cottages
to the boardwalk on the fen, and the side bridge at the inflow stream.

Parmelia saxatilis  This foliose lichens has isidia on the older parts -( lots of tiny dark grey projections -)
and a coarse network of white lines on the younger parts
(click on the image to see a larger version)

Where we look at a willow tree in detail

Les takes a photo

In great detail.
Left: Parmelia sulcata This also has raised white lines, along which, on older parts, soralia  may develop
 It does not have isidia.
Right: Platismatia glauca -
This is only attached at one point, it is not flat on the bark,
so it is more like a shrubby lichen.
It is pollution tolerant.
The underside is dark and the thallus has frilly lobes.
Platismatia contains a lot of a chemical  called lichenin
-  a starch similar to that found in bread -

Pollution -

I remember 30 years ago (oh so long!!) being told by Mark Seaward whilst looking at the same trees (but 30 years younger..)  that the lichens we were finding could tolerate up to 60ppm sulphur dioxide pollution.  Sulphur dioxide pollution in the past limited lichen growth - from the Lancashire milltowns 25 miles away (south) and Yorkshire mill towns 30 miles -Plus to the east. Thirty years ago we found only one patch pollution sensative Usnea on a birch tree. This time we looked hard and someone did find a tiny piece of Usnea - but not near the board walk, and I haven't got a picture of it.

On a side branch of a willow tree we find an early coloniser - Fuscidia lightfootii
Fuscidia lightfootii This has colonies that are usually less than the size of a 50p piece.
It is light green with dark fruiting bodies.
It is found on twigs and you branches in wet and boggy places especially in the south and west.

On the same trunk as Les is photgraphing we have
Mycoblastus fucatus a grey crusotose lichen .
Now, is that the papery grey of patches 1a and 1b (note they have a few black apothecia)
or is it the more lumpy bluey grey of 2?

Next we follow the side stream about 20 yards and look at an area where the birch and willow scrub was removed about three years ago. We find not one but several species of Peltigera.

Peltigera are the only lichens that we find on the fen that have Cyanobacterai (Blue green algae) as the algal part of the lichen - all the other Lichens have green algae. Allan suggests this is because bluegreen algae tend to prefer less acid conditions - and the fen and peatbog are made of Peat - perhaps the parts where we find the Peltgera are lower down and growing on plants that receive more base rich groundwater.
There are two Peltigeras here. There one with a felty surface and one with a smooth surface.


Need to look at them with a hand lens or under a low power microscope to look at the rhizinae. 

We found P praetextata, P hymenina, P horizontalis, P membrancea,.. but I still need to sort them out.
I think we could have had a whole day on Peltigeras!!

We found lots of different species of Cladonia:- 
Cladonia fimbriata
That's the one in the centre of the picture,
on the left side of the trunk.
We had a brief visit to the peat bog proper - but by, was it cold! 
then returned for lunch.- Hot soup and fresh sandwiches. Delicious.

Welcome Hot homemade soup back in Malham Tarn House.

In the afternoon we looked at our specimens .. and then ..... a guided tour of the lichens on the wall of the house... but that is for another blog post..

introductory British lichen society - FSC days 

Other posts on this blog on lichens:-

  1. Lichens of Malham Tarn Fen - with Allan Pentecost 29 February 2012
  2. Lichens flourescent in bonfire light  5 Nov 2011
  3. Opal Lichens Settle    CCG walk led by myself -  2 April 2011
  4. Algae (and Lichens) for Beginners - Malham Walkwith Allan Pentecost Aug 2009
  5. Lichens Day at Giggleswick Churchyard with Mark Seaward 14 June 2009

Monday 20 February 2012

Snowdrop Sunday - Simple Pleasures - Settle Parish Church -

Snowdrop Sunday

Sunday 19th February was scheduled as Snowdrop Sunday at Settle Parish Church - The Church of the Holy Ascension

So the church hosted light refreshments

Yes refreshments

Cakes - and a chance to catch up with local news.

Althea enjoys looking at the snowdrops (One picture can't do the churchyard justice - there are hundreds of thousands

Then it's a pleasant walk back by the River Ribble - along the excellent footpath
Reed Canary-grass and Tall Fescue growing on the boulders in the river.

We meet Ted Kendall and have a chat.

On Pancake Tuesday- two-days time the church will be serving Pancakes.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Settle, Shopping, Big Breakfast and Growing with Grace

Shops, Social thoughts and Scenery at Settle on 18 Feb

This time it is shopping with Althea in SETTLE, not at Carlisle.

8am sees me collecting Althea, and us setting off in the rain for the Quaker Meeting House (about the oldest building in Settle) to the monthly Churches Together in Settle Big Breakfast at 8.30am -held in the new annex.

Churches Together in Settle Monthly Big-Breakfast

The speaker today is Ann Algie, and she is to talk about Growing with Grace, the Quaker Inspired Organic greenhouses at Clapham. She does this very well - see her standing at the right  and I will write about her talk elsewhere. She explains why she cares so much about  growing vegetables and about people and communities growing vegetables.-

She and husband Tom are setting off for a new life next month, driving off in their van to France. They plan to do some organic farming when they get there. We all wish them well.

 John Diggles, one of the Big Breakfast organisers says "Whenever I hear of an initiative involving community in a good way, you or Tom are involved. It has been an inspirational talk. We wish you all the best."
A footpath in Settle this morning when the sun came out

 We arrive at  Wholesome Bee. Wholesome Bee sells organic and health foods
-- and a selection of vegetables, some from Growing with Grace.
They act as a pick up point in Settle for people who buy "Vegetable Bags" from Growing with Grace

Ooh look -What have we here..
Shortly after I discover and by some Wheatgrass powder which with water makes a "juice drink"
 £11... I'll tell you what it tastes like later.

Althea knows half the people in Settle

Settle Music Shop - we order a music case

This was Tom Algie's shop - which he has recently sold in preparation for going to France. We buy some black dustbin bags

Meeting yet more friends outside the Coop

I hadn't noticed this sign before.

Time for home.. it's lunch time.

Settle Water Tower on Settle Carlisle Line

The Water Tower at Settle was recently restored and this galss room paced n the water tank!!. You can watch this channel 4 programme on the Settle Water Tower online if you live in UK  for another four weeks --but its my photo of the water tower here, taken in January. The tank held enough water for eight steam engines

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Settle - Carlisle line - snow, hoar frost and shopping

 Shopping trip to Carlisle.
Althea wanted to go shopping in Carlisle so got some tickets and we arranged to go on Tuesday 7 Feb.

Here we are waiting for the train at Settle

Tree near Appleby


Welcome coffee and drinking chocolate

Same tree - but I do like the picture

Great Dunn Fell, high up on the Pennines, brought close by the telephoto camera setting.


A visit to Carlisle cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Fine Cumberland meat in the indoor market... and haggis

Otter sculpture in Carlisle shopping area  made by Judith Bluck

Returning to Settle by 6pm -- a day well spent.