Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Day 9 - 30 Days Wild - Churches Count on Nature Survey Day at Sharow Church

 In the afternoon I joined two groups of children from Sharow Primary School, next door - who were being shown round. c. 7 year olds and c 9 year olds - 

This post could cover 10 different stories - 

  1. Children's questions
  2. The Bioblitz
  3. How to recognise rocks - especially limestone -
  4. How to sort out a couple of lichens for the bioblitz
  5. Invertebrates - Spider eating spiders - moths
  6. Churchyard management
  7. Mosses
  8. Grasses
  9. Characters who I met on the day

But first the children

Children -ask questions - and make you look - And ask questions yourself.

Why are the plants/flowers different and how did they come to be different?

What does solitary mean? (when I was describing describing "Solitary Bees" - Wild bees that live by themselves compared to Honey-bees that live in hives )

What does "structure" mean? - when explaining about lichens. The children "got" or at least accepted that lichens are made of fungi (like mushrooms, toadstools, mould on mouldy bread), algae (like green slime in fishponds).  .. But when I said "The fungi give lichens structure" one boy asked "What does structure mean?

I was encouraged by the teachers to talk about geology and look at the different types of rock available. So we looked at the layers of sand in the sandstone of the church.

It shows how the particles had been layed down in layers . .. in sediment. 

In looking at the church wall for these layers we noticed that the blocks in the west facing side (of the buttress) so  weathered? - the teacher was keen to use the word eroded -- which it certainly was..  I may write more about this later - I had one hypothesis then. I very much have another  now.

Time was short so we moved to the nearby gravestones - some had big crystals -black and pink others had white and pink crystals - granite.  Igneous rocks..(I wondered how much 9 year olds could take in..)  Then there was a white gravestone from a soldier who had been killed in the first world war.  I am still not sure what it was made out of but we decided to call it marble because it had a marbled pattern -  it had a rough texture (I thought marble would be polished..).

But back to the recording day:

2. The Bioblitz  In the cool of the church Mark and Clare from the North  & East Yorkshire Data Recording Centre were collecting result ready to put on iNaturalist for Churches count on Nature

Bioblitz - 117 species by 1pm


3. How to recognise rocks-- Ah that will have to wait for another day

4.  Lichens
If I can identify a few more lichens it will add to their list. I have already given Mark and Clare the list of lichens I found on the British Legion cement gravestones two years ago.

I photograph two species

This is a Caloplaca growing - on mortar lowdown on south facing church wall. C arcis or limonea? After correspondence on Twitter with Mark Powell - he suggests C limonea.

1. Because of the pale yellow colour and darker apothecial discs
2. Because C arcis just has blastidia round the edge of the areoles and limonea has soralia across the areoles - even if a lot might have been eaten off by snails here.
3. The fact that no-one has recorded it from this part of Yorkshire is probably because it is a relatively newly described species and only a few lichenologists have started recoding it so far and have not been here yet. 

(I go back to the same wall on 10th June and can't find the exact patch - but several other patches. Note - I now think nearly all the church is made of a very vase rich limestone. The eroded bits of wall and churchyard wall both give a pH of about 7.8 when mixed with BDH soil indicator)

At the back of the church in the shade of the north facing wall - but actually on the top edge of sloping west facing buttress I find what looks to me like Pertusaria albescens var corallina - Because ot looks like what I have seen on rocks in SD 86 in a couple of places 

though when I found it before it was on acid rock in a mixed acid and limestone wall.

I am fairly sure this is Pertusaria albescens subsp corallina

Mark Powell wasn't - He said it might be - but it could be other things too.

In a parallel Twitter conversation he showed someone else some Phlyctis (stains orange red with K ) and some Pertusaria amara (Stains violet fleetingly with K and Bleach.

So I went back later on the evening of 10th - complete with new bleach. 
Still no reaction with bleach - or KOH. I break off a lump of the lichen and chew it - No bitter taste  - so not P amara.

I am going to leave it as Pertusaria albescens subsp corallina

Below is a pretty species of Lecanora on vertical parts of the buttress

picture is 1.8cm across

5. Invertebrates - Spider-eating-spiders and other invertebrates

This is sometimes know at Daddy-Long-Legs Spider or Cellar Spider - Pholcus phalangioides

I go back on 10th and take better photos:

There is one waist height and one low down just inside the porch of the church. read about  Pholcus phalangioides here

Garden Carpet - my suggestion

Elephant Hawkmoth - caught by Charlie and Jill early in the morning


6. Churchyard Management - To come

7. Mosses

Atrichum undulatum Common Smoothcap

The only place I noticed Atrichum undulatum Common Smoothcap
was on this grave - so it is good that it is one
where the mound has been left on the grave
and where it is mown.

8. Grasses

Above and below: Hairy Brome  Bromopsis ramosa-
this woodland grass is easily recognisable by
the 2mm long hairs on the sheaths,
and by the big auricles
(earlike projections at the base of the blades)


Well, we have added another 60 species of higher plant since the 1pm count on the board above.

And a few more mosses and lichens

I wonder what the total number of organisms will be... come back in a few days and I will have  written the total by then

9. Characters - to come

See more about Sharow churchyard and the Open Day on Sat 5 June 2021

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