Friday, December 29, 2023

Some common mosses and liverworts

 In winter, mosses and liverworts often provide some of the most vibrant new green new plant growth: this is their season. These are a few species that I've encountered in recent weeks.


Cypress-leaved plait-moss Hypnum cupressiforme

One of the commonest and easiest-identified mosses, with leaves all curved in one direction. This one was growing on the top of a fence post in Teesdale.

Hart's-tongue thyme-moss Plagiomnium undulatum.
Unusually large leaves for a moss, with an undulating surface. Growing on the woodland floor beside the river Tees at Egglestone

Silky wall feather-moss Homalothecium sericeum
Often found growing on shady wall tops, but this specimen was on a rotting fallen tree in woodland at Egglestone in Teesdale.


Bifid crestwort Lophocolea bidentata
On a damp, shady retaining wall at Hexham in Northumberland

Greater featherwort Plagiochila asplenioides
On the woodkand floor at Egglestone in Teesdale.


Forked veilwort Metzgeria furcata
Growing on the fork of a sycamore trunk, where rain trickles down from the branches, at Egglestone in Teesdale. The bifurcating thallus has a central rib.

Crescent-cup liverwort Lunularia cruciata
Growing on concrete beside a drain on the path around our house. Moon-shaped cupules on the thallus are filled with buds (gemmae), each of which will grow into a new liverwort when washed out by rain.

Great scented liverwort aka snakewort Conocephalum conicum. The polygonal pattern on the thallus surface and raised air pores are very distinctive. On a damp, shady retaining wall at Hexham in Northumberland

Endive Pellia Pellia endiviifolia
In winter the tips of the thallus extend into branching lobes. On a damp, shady retaining wall at Hexham in Northumberland

Common liverwort Marchantia polymorpha. Cupules on the surface full of gemmae, like tiddy-winks, that are splashed out by raindrops. Growing around a drain on the edge of the footpath from the Bailey to Prebends bridge in Durham city.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Nacreous clouds delivered by storm Pia

 This was the sky at sunrise today, when we were treated to a magical display of opalescent nacreous clouds, with rainbow colours caused by light refracted through minute ice crystals. Then, at sunset .....

..... a repeat performance. A memorable day of cloudwatching.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Long-tailed tits

 Sometimes the best wildlife watching opportunities come from just standing still and waiting. Every day, someone leaves a handful of bird seed on a rock beside one of my favourite walks in the Deerness valley, then walks on. After they'd gone I stood and watched for a while and this flock of long-tailed tits arrived, totally oblivious to my presence.