Mossing in Preston

More moss-based adventures!  Phil is taking the much-respected Biological Recording Course at MMU and had decided to do his project on epiphytic bryophytes.  As you do.  Having discovered they weren’t quite as easy to ID as he had hoped, he did the sensible thing and asked for help from local expert Des Callaghan, a member of North West Naturalists’ Union.  Des invited along a few extra pairs of eyes and hey presto an outing to Preston to look at moss on trees was in the offing 🙂

epiphytic mossesWe began by inspecting trees in the cemetery at Ribbleton while it poured with rain.  I know what you’re thinking.  Yes.  Glamorous.  We bryologists are style icons with our anoraks and fogged-up hand lenses.  But it was worth it FOR SCIENCE because the last bryophyte atlas of the area recorded absolutely no Orthotrichum species on trees in that grid square and we found six within a couple of hours of searching.  Not bad, eh !  Shows how much the air quality has improved in Preston in the last few decades.

fashion icons

Buoyed by our success we trooped off to visit ancient woodland at Lower Brockholes which was looking lovely with loads of bluebells, wild garlic and even rough horsetail (Nice!).

wild garlic

Equisetum hyemale

The bryophytes also proved splendid with lots more Orthotrichum to play with and plenty of diversity to marvel at.  After scrambling up and down steep leaf-littery banks we eventually found our way out of the woodland by various routes having managed to get separated from each other.  By this time it had stopped raining so we decided to mooch over the motorway to see what could be found at Brockholes Nature Reserve.  Mostly alder leaf beetles looking hungry….

alder leaf beetle

It was a mossy adventure and the moral of the story is always swap phone numbers with each other and carry a map and GPS/ smartphone  in case you get separated from your group only to find yourself squeezing through a scally gap in a fence and roaming some random housing estate looking for where you left the car TRUE STORY



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