12 March 2011

Pennard Burrows

Racomitrium canescens (Hoary Fringe-moss)
A recent CCW report of the bryophytes of Pennard Valley SSSI, carried out by Sam Bosanquet, inspired me to look for one of the 115 species recorded last year; this being the Nationally Scarce Hoary Fringe-moss (Racomitrium canescens), a conspicuous component of the dune-heath community at Pennard.
Unfortunately the recent dry weather meant that the leaves were crisped, rather than in their more attractive spreading state when wet, but the size and extent of the population made patches easy to spot. Drifts of this moss were also recorded over 1km to the east of the SSSI in amongst a rich mosaic of other dune-heath species, with lichens also well represented.
Racomitrium canescens (Hoary Fringe-moss) detail
On the cliffs there were patches of turf with abundant Early-purple Orchid (Orchis mascula) shoots, with over 200 estimated in just one 3m x3m patch. I guess Rabbits and molluscs will take their toll, but there could be a very good showing of orchids on the cliffs this spring.
Early-purple Orchid shoots
Nationally Scarce mosses were also noted on the cliffs including Round-fruited Grimmia (Grimmia orbicularis) and Side-fruited Crisp-moss (Pleurochaete squarrosa), though again highly crisped. After tonight's rain, these mosses will take on a completely different look tomorrow.
Side-fruited Crisp-moss (Pleurochaete squarrosa)
More at from this site at http://moonmoths.blogspot.com/2011/03/pennard-dune-heath-mosses.html
Pictures and content by Barry Stewart

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