26 July 2013

Craig-y-Llyn revisited

Llyn Fawr from Craig-y- Llyn
David Barden, Julian Woodman and myself carried out another search for Serrated Wintergreen (Orthilia secunda) along the cliffs at Craig-y-Llyn (the Rhondda Cynon Taff section) on the 24th. Unfortunately, as with Ian and Nigel’s visit last month [see here], we were again unsuccessful, but the hike up the slopes wasn’t without reward. Vascular plants of note included Beech Fern (Phegopteris connectilis), Fir Clubmoss (Huperzia selago), Grey-leaved Whitebeam (Sorbus porrigentiformis), Lesser Meadow-rue (Thalictrum minus subsp. minus), Mountain Male-fern (Dryopteris oreades) and much Roseroot (Sedum rosea). A 2m x 2m patch of Mossy Saxifrage (Saxifraga hypnoides) & a few plants of Cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) were perhaps the best finds of the day.

Julian on one of the more gentle slopes 
Grey-leaved Whitebeam (left) and location of Mossy Saxifrage near the very top of the cliff (non-flowering patch in bottom right of picture)
Lesser Meadow-rue
Mountain Male-fern
Mosses and liverworts were very prominent and diverse, with species worthy of mention including Straight-leaved Apple-moss (Bartramia ithyphylla), Micheli's Least Pouncewort (Lejeunea cavifolia ­to be confirmed) and Sharp-leaved Blindia (Blindia acuta), but most impressive were the sheets of Robust Rustwort (Marsupella emarginata var. aquatic) on the normally dripping rock faces.
Straight-leaved Apple-moss
(plucked shoot showing silvery leaf sheath)
Robust Rustwort
Robust Rustwort (detail)

Moths were very prominent with well over 100 Northern Spinach being disturbed from the Bilberry and Heather along with smaller quantities of Apotomis sauciana, Green Carpet, Grey Mountain Carpet, Common Carpet, July Highflyer, Twin-spot Carpet, Holly Tortrix and Smoky Wave. A single Dark Green Fritillary was seen on the wing and the mines of Mompha raschkiella were plentiful on Rosebay Willowherb, locally frequent at the base of cliffs where cliff falls had created disturbed ground. Birds noted included singing Lesser Redpolls, Reed Bunting and Grasshopper Warbler at the base of the scree slopes. On the way up and down a large patch of Ivy-leaved Bellflower (Wahlenbergia hederacea) with white flowers was noted, the flowers are normally blue. Very many thanks to Julian for organising this excellent visit.
white-flowered Ivy-leaved Bellflower


Ian Morgan said...

A good try Barry & Julian....and an interesting general list of goodies.

Charles Hipkin said...

It would be really nice to relocate Orthilia secunda in VC 41. As Ian pointed out however, it is often shy to flower and the bilberry-like leaves would not be particularly conspicuous on those cliffs. I believe it has been seen relatively recently at Craig Cerrig-gleisiad, in itself an incredibly disjunct location in Britain (the most southern location by a long way). There is also an old record for Fan Nedd (Brecs)which has not been confirmed in recent times - possibly grazed out in that location. But, if its any concelation guys, in global terms, Saxifraga hypnoides (a local oceanic-boreal species) is far more important to UK biodiversity than O. secunda, which is a common circumboreal species - reatively abundant in sub-alpine areas of Europe, Asia and America.

Barry Stewart said...

Seeing your photograph Charles it's not difficult to imagine that we could have overlooked this species, especially so if non-flowering. A prize should be awarded to the person(s) who ever manage to relocate it.