Saturday 28 September 2019

Searching the pool margins for bryophytes at Brown Moss SSSI

Our last field meeting of the year was at Brown Moss SSSI, near Whitchurch today.  The small group, welcomed a new member and we all benefited from Martin Godfrey's tremendous bryophyte knowledge.  The whole site was quieter than expected with most of the dog walkers staying home, perhaps afraid of what the weather might do.  We had a lovely, mainly sunny, few hours of mooching about the wetlands, with an occasional foray into the woods.

We were hoping to find the rare Riccia canaliculata, Channelled Crystalwort, but recent rains had covered any exposed mud, which is its favoured habitat.  The remainder of the drawdown zone was already colonised by aquatic plants for which Brown Moss is well known.  

There was plentiful Lythrum portula, Water Purslane which has clearly had a good year.  

Amongst the Water Purslane was Persicaria mitis, Tasteless Water-Pepper and abundant Ranunculus peltatus.
When examining bryophytes through the hand lens you never know what invertebrate might enter your field of view.  On a young oak tree on the 'island' we came across this Yellow Tail moth caterpillar.  They feed on various deciduous trees and will overwinter as a larvae to resume development next year.  It was crawling on Metzgeria furcata and Ulota crispa.

It was a good end to the 2019 field season and we shall now be finalising next year's programme.