Monday, 27 February 2012

Bryophytes in the garden

After Saturdays field trip with the British Bryological Society, yesterday was mainly spent trying to put what I learnt into practice. The field trip was very enjoyable, and with there being only five attendees there was plenty of time to learn quite a bit about the commoner urban mosses and liverworts. The plan was to survey the 1km square (now called a monad) around Ilford road Metro station. It included a corner of Newcastle town moor, South Gosforth Park and many, many walls. An hour after we started we still hadn't progressed beyond the confines of the station, and were on our hands and knees looking through magnifying glasses at mosses, much to the amazement of commuters I may add. One was even taking photographs us.  Like I said, very enjoyable and we managed to find & identify 32 species, all common urban ones but excellent learning for a beginner like me.
So yesterday saw me in the garden most of the day slowly identifying the bryophytes on the lawn, on stones,  fence-posts and in the greenhouse guttering. Eventually I was happy after checking them through the microscope and field guide to fairly confidently claim the following.
Rough-stalked Feather-moss (Brachythecium rutabulum)
Common Feather-moss (Kindbergia praelonga)
Redshank Moss (Ceratodon purpureus)
Grey-cushioned Grimmia (Grimmia pulvinata)
Common Liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha)
Crescent-cup Liverwort (Lunularia cruciata).

Six species, took me quite some time to wade through but it's a start.

Three Mosses (top to bottom)

Grey-cushioned Grimmia
Crescent-cup Liverwort
Rough-stalked Feather-moss

I did have a short walk in the afternoon through South Burn Wood but I generally left the mosses there for another day. Several Willow Tit and a Nuthatch were the best birds of the day with the now seemingly ubiquitous flock of Long-tailed Tit. My first Lesser Celandine flower of the year here at Waldridge (its been in flower since early January in Sunderland) was present, as was the small group of naturalised, for 10+ years at least, Winter Aconite.

The most unusual sight was a group of 7 male Greenfinch perched in a 2 metre tall Sycamore. They were all singing and doing short song-flighting despite the lack of a female and there was no sign of any territorial behaviour. They reminded me of a group of lads on a street corner, just hanging about and showing off to each other.

The Wood Mouse in the garden continues to perform well on the  lawn under the bird table. I say the, this morning there were two of them feeding and chasing each other, and completely ignoring the Blackbirds, Robin, Dunnock and Chaffinch feeding on the ground nearby.


  1. Bet the Mosses are a lot easier to photograph than they are to identify, Keith. Saying that though, i`ve never had a go at them, either way.

  2. Dean, Too true. I learnt a lot but I still can't say they are now easier to id. The things I (thought I) knew before hand have been I somewhat greyed as there are so many variables (and splits) to consider as well as everything else. But like you say at least they don't move. Give it a go, one good thing is you can do it during the dark winter months.