Sunday 27 August 2023

25a June 2023: Sunday - Evening at Eycott Hill & Penruddock A66 after Blencathra Grasses & Sedges Course: - Carex spicata and some limestone species

I had a full and interested set of adults on my Grasses and Sedges course at Blencathra  24-25 June - and we covered a lot in the 14 hours available. Read about it here 24th and here 25th

I continued tidying and my mobile phone said 7pm when I finally left the centre.

My 70 mile journey was to be back east 22 miles along the fast A66 to Penrith then south down the M6 for 35 miles, then east along A65.  But soon after the Field Centre I took a detour and turned onto minor roads left towards Berrier and Eycott Hill. 

I will be returning to run a grasses course in September and I wanted to see if i could to find some base-rich loving grasses in the road verge that I remember I had once seen. 
I failed to find any. Not by looking through the car window anyway.  The adjacent fields were mostly recently reseeded with ryegrass monoculture. I continued up to Eycott - that I had visited 20 years ago with a Grasses course and 10 years ago with a Cumbria Bryologists trip (see my blog post). This is now a Cumbria Wildlife Trust Reserve, with a little car park and very helpful boards - explaining the geology. 


YES, the car park and this tip of the reserve IS limestone - with a row of sinkholes to prove it!

View from Carpark into the reserve - the limestone area is in the foreground.

View from the Car park 

Another view from the carpark

Sweet Vernal-grass  with Common Bent ( just behind right of it) and Meadow Foxtail  (behind left). The Flowerhead often looks a bit "dandruffy" with the remains of the stigmas and sometimes the stamen filaments.

I walked in the field of long grass, the blades still holding water droplets from this afternoon's downpours.  My waterproof running shoes became wet inside and out, and the bottom of my trouser legs drenched. Yellow Oat-grass - Trisetum flavescens  greeted me just inside the reserve from the Gate entrance, its silky golden heads glinting in odd shafts of late evening sun. In my grassland survey work days in East Yorkshire Trisetum flavescens had been an indicator species for botanically good neutral grassland. Timothy-grass and Meadow Foxtail added to the variety.

Yellow Oat-grass

Most of the grass in the field was getting very long.  I wonder what the history of the vegetation is? It did not seem to have suffered from the drought. I walked to the brow of the shake holes where the grass was much shorter - There were no interesting grasses. This did not have a history as a species rich traditional hay-meadow. No Quaking grass or Meadow Oat-grass or Crested Hair-grass  or Downy Meadow Oat-grass that are found in the good bits of the Limestone Yorkshire Dales.  

(I wait for some reader of the blog to say "Hey you missed.... so and so!)

I returned to the car then explored the road side verge. It had quite varied vegetation including  a little Trisetum too. Trouble is, if I come back in September, Trisetum with its very fine stems is extremely difficult to find this once it has been cut or grazed.

I continued in the car towards Penrith, wondering if I should visit my friend Colin there. But as I descended from Penruddock back onto the A66  at the corner I saw lots of short grass (not rank grass as on many road verges) and tall Ox-eye Daisies.

I parked and got out with camera - To find Glaucous Sedge Carex flacca, and tufts of Prickly Sedge Carex spicata . A wide stretch of land had been left next to the A66. -possibly for making into future  dual carriage-way.
Glaucous Sedge (Carex flacca)

Prickly sedge (Carex spicata)

Prickly Sedge (Carex spicata) It is tufted

View of the A66 - as twilight.. and thunder-clouds descend

Prickly Sedge (Carex spicata)

Ox - eye Daisies and Mallow


Limestone outcrop

Hedge Bedstraw

With the top soil removed and cutting through a limestone area, there was a wide variety of plants - from Northern Dock to Mallow. A delightful area.

It was now nearly 9pm. The traffic though hurtling past at high speed, was at least intermittent at this time of evening. It was a privilege to be there.  In the daytime, even though a tarmac footpath is available I suspect the traffic will be noisy.

The clouds gathered and a new thunder storm drove me back to the car. It was too late to visit Colin - so I carried on home.  

Ready to put away my papers and books the next day until my next course - and to sort my photographs with happy memories. (See  here 24th and here 25th.)

Maybe I will visit Eycott on 23-24 September when I run the "Grass identification using vegetative features" course - Or maybe we will have enough grasses to keep us busy in and near the Centre grounds, and a short visit to woodland for woodland species. 

Monday 7 August 2023

Old Garden Wall - Preston Montford Field Centre - Day 3 Late Afternoon of British Lichen Society field Meeting in Shropshire

Having returned  from the Long Mynd early, it is a good opportunity to explore the local surroundings of Preston Montford Field Centre. David Hill takes us to this long brick wall. It is 13 July 2023.

This is Lecanora antiqua.   It grows on mortar and turns C yellow
(It keys out quickly in Dobson. Also from Dobson: Usually very fertile with the apothecia closely grouped. Apothecia to 0.8mm diam, often pruinose. Disc dreamy brown to brown, margin becoming crenulate, excluded when old. Thallus and apothecia C+ yellow (discs deeper orange)

Diploicia canescens

Diploicia canescens

Belonia nidarosiensis

Diplotomma alboatrum

Diplotomma alboatrum

Diplotomma alboatrum  picture 5 mm wide

Diplotomma alboatrum  - picture 5 mm wide

Rinodina olea

Rinodina olea - close up 5mm across

In a copse to the left of the wall was an Oak tree. In cracks in the trunk we found Chaenotheca hispida.  We had to look very very very hard as they are very very tiny.

Chaenotheca hispida

Chaenotheca hispida

THe other went back but I wandered round the grounds a little more. In the field was an Elder bush - femonstarting the high nitrogen of the area

In the garden was a raised bed edge with some Cladonia, probably fimbriata

On some paving flags hosting a drying pole were various lichens including Lecanora muralis - rather simliar to the lichen we had found in the morning on the rock outcrop
Lecanora muralis

On the cement kirb edge in front of our lab is Lecidella stigmatea -foreground

Lecidella stigmatea

Lecidella stigmatea   (Copied from Dobson 2018) : Thallus variable  pale grey green, reddish borwon, or white, areolate cracked or almost evanescent. Apothecia sessile up to 1.5mm diam, Discs plane occasionally becoming convex, very dark brown or black with glossy margins which become excluded.
Epithecium purplish brown. Exciple green in section. Hypothecium colourless to straw coloured.  K+ yellow or K -  . Common on calcareous rocks, cement and mortar.
Often confused with Clausadea monticola which has only orange brown pigment in section, including a dark hypothecium.

This is common over UK.. so I really need to start checking it off in my home square of SD86.

The courtyard / pond outside our sleeping quarters was not useful for lichens but..

... the week we were there the raspberries were just perfect.

 Thank you to the Staff at Preston Montford including the cooks and cleaners for making us welcome and providing good food and space.  

Next morning we looked at specimens for a little while, then packed our bags. With torrential solid rain forecast that morning we postponed the planned last morning visit for another year maybe, and made a good start to our respective journeys home.
See more about the British Lichen Society here

Sunday 6 August 2023

Jonathon's Hollow, Long Mynd - Day 3 of British Lichen Society Field Meeting in Shropshire

Shropshire a county between the Midlands and Wales  has some amazing geology, and this in turn produces fascinating lichens.

Yesterday we were at Nipstone Rock at the end of the Stiperstones

Today, Thursday 13 July 2023, we are going to the Long Mynd. We drive through Church Stretton and park on a narrow road above Jonathon's Hollow. (The steep sided valleys are called hollows, and/or batches)

(Please tell me if I have misnamed any of these species - especially those of you who came on the field meeting. )

The Long Mynd is approximately 7 miles (11 km) long by 3 miles (5 km) wide, The highest point on the Long Mynd is Pole Bank (1,693 ft, 516 m)

Here we are  just starting to descend into Jonathon's Hollow

On the rocks just behind me from where I am taking this photo Eric and Mary showed us the Umbilicaria hirsuta which he had been delighted with when he first found it. (And still is) - It was a new record for England when he discovered it!

Umbilicaria hirsuta

Xanthoparmelia verruculifera -
The crinkles in the thallus lobes  apparently look like Nora Batty's Stockings

(I find and compare Xanthoparmelia verruculifera and  X loxodes later on this blogpost)

For those not familiar with the longest ever running Sit-com "Last of the Summer Wine" set in Holmfirth,  see Nora Batty   There were 295 episodes and 31 series between 1973 and 2010 and Nora featured in 245 of them.
This brown Parmelia has wrinkles on the thallus lobes, and isidia in warts (But not cauliflower like warts as in X loxodes) The medulla is supposed to be KC+ pink or KC- (unlike X loxodes whose medulla is KC red-orange.  It's is much darker brown than X loxodes.

Somewhere uphill there must be a golf course...

??? not sure what this is

I wonder if this is Lecanora membranacea

Umbilicaria hirsuta

2m below me the others in our slow ( more thorough? ) party are having coffee...

A walking couple come past us and tell us how they had been working with other volunteers the week before, removing scrub (gorse scrub) from some of these outcrops to allow space for the  grayling butterfly (Hipparchia semele

Meanwhile much of the party have walked down - maybe only 1/8 mile, but (with wide angle picture) it looks a long way.

The bracken is causing problems.  
The bracken is growing on the thicker soil.

Paul, Steve, Alastair

Top left of the picture, though at the bottom of the hill
is a rock outcrop we look at after lunch

Lasallia pustulata (centre) grows on the rocks too.

This might be Varicellaria lactea - but do not have chance to test to see if the soralia go pink-red with C

Eric takes me higher up the ridge to a flush with Bog Pimpernel and a Red Waxcap

The flush

Bog Pimpernel

A Small Copper butterfly on Marsh Thistle


On the way back down  to the others - Can you see Fred? 

I meet Fred at "the summit" of the rock outcrop above the path

The yellow on the rock at the summit is Xanthoria ucrainica and Candelariella coraliza

We then spend a long time puzzling over this lecanorine type lichen.. - which bottom right corner of this picture  actually appears to have a lobed thallus - what dark pink apothecial discs it has! And the rims are a bit crenulate

More lobes here (top centre)..
In spite of its dramatic location at the top of this rock, later that evening we decide  that it must just be the (common) Lecanora muralis Protoparmeliopsis muralis. - Chewing Gum Lichen that can grow on tarmac and cement paving stones as well as on acid siliceous mountain roks

Next is lunch, beside a pleasant narrow stream at the bottom of the valley.  On short turf with encroaching bracken.  Happy memories of picking up pebbles in the stream. Paul C. finds three aquatic Verrucarias .. and takes them back. No photographs.

I press on and catch up with David Hill and others at a big outcrop where the stream in Jonathon's Hollow and the other Batch meet (referred to earlier in this post.)

Here there is some Lecidea fusco-atra
Lecidea fusco-atra - goes red with C (bleach)

Considering this is the third time  I have seen it I should be getting able to recognise it - previously with the Cumbria group at Kirkstone Pass with John Douglas, and at Carrifran near Moffat with Caz and Brian earlier in April.

The BLS map for L fusco-atra shows it occurs over most of the UK   ... So why haven't I noticed it in SD86 yet? (my home hectad) .. I must try using bleach more often on some of the possibilities that I find.

This is Xanthoparmelia verruculifera -   it is darker brown than some X loxodes we find close by.

David thinks this lichen might be Varicellaria hemispherica even though it usually grows on trees. - red with C  

This turns out to be all Lecanora gangalodes

This looks like a cup fungus to me, but David Hill suggests it is only Lecanora polytropa. The picture is just 5mm across

Lecanora polytropa 

On a flatter, more soily area at the edge of this outcrop we find 

Cladonia uncialis  uncialis

Time to go back to the centre. and we arrive there early - in time to go for a short walk in the centre grounds .. see next post.