Sunday, 12 March 2017

And plantlife to date

So far I've had 60 species of flowering plants in the 1k square. The target is 375 species, which seems a lot but I managed it last time and unlike birds in particular they tend not to move, which makes things much easier.  So most of the species should still be where I had them last time. Obviously there is very little in flower at the moment and subsequently vey little worth photographing so far. There's quite a few trees in the list as I helped with the Durham Wildlife Trust Botany group last month and gathered quite a few twigs for two sessions of winter tree identification which were quite well attended. Non-tree/shrub-wise the few species so far seen in flower include Colt's-foot and  Common Whitlow-grass plus a few garden weeds such as Hairy Biittercress and Shepherd's-Purse.

Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara, the flowers appear well before the leaves, was late in flowering this year

Blackthorn Prunus spinosa - A lot has been planted, for example along the orbital road, but there are still the odd plants in many of teh hedgerows and as isolted bushes or small groups on Waldridge Fell and South Burn Wood.

I joined the newly formed DWT Botany group last year and though it's unlikely we'll ever vist the square (but never say never) I reckon it has incresed my knowledge of plants and may well help me identify a few new ones this year. We had Chris Metherell give us an excellent talk on Euphrasia (Eyebrights) last week and hopefully when they are out in June I can get around to sorting them out. I think there are two (at least) species on the fell which in the past I have just called E. nemorosa but after the talk, and a session on going through his herbarium I suspect neither are this species. We'll wait and see.

As well as flowering plants we have also done a fungus foray or two last autumn but I have hardly looked so far this year hence only 3 very common species.

Birch Polypore Piptoporus betulinus - one of the commonest and most noticable woodland fungi
Wrinkled Crust Fungi  Phlebia radiata - the pinky crust fungus common on dead trees and causing White Rot
Variable Oysterling Crepidotus variabilis - Another common species

Recently I attended a session on Sphagnum Moss identification at Stanley Moss near Tow Law, which was very informative.  Here at Wanister Bog and the adjacent Felledge Wood  there are 5 Sphagnum species. I saw 3 species last time (S. fallax, palustre and squarrosum) and with my new found knowledge relocated them surprsingly easily,  together with a 4th, S.cuspidatum,  the day after, while everything was still fresh in my mind.  That just leaves Sphagnum fibriatum, which I did see at Stanley Moss, to find here

 I had not got around to checking for much more yet and like fungi it will be getting a bit late for many species so will have to wait until later in the year to boost the numbers. Finally I managed to identify one algae so far, Trentepohlia abietina, which is the one that forms bright orange patches on tree trunks and 1 lichen, the very common Hammered Shield Lichen Parmelia sulcata

Hammered Shield Lichen Parmelia sulcata   - The lobes on this grey-green lichen have ridges and dents giving it a hammered look.
So thats the plants, fungi and there allies so far. I'll finish off tomorrow  with  the Mammals and the small number of insects and other invertebrates tomorrow then its updates as I see new spcies and plod on to the 1000 species mark.

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