Mosses & Liverworts of Whiteknights: 3. Saxicolous Mosses

Abundant acrocarps on concrete: Orthotrichum cupulatum, O. diaphinum, Grimmia pulvinata, Tortula muralis, Bryum argenteum, B. dichotomum

A selection of acrocarps growing on concrete: Orthotrichum cupulatum, O. diaphinum, Grimmia pulvinata, Tortula muralis, Syntrichia montana, Bryum argenteum and B. dichotomum. Image by D. Morris

3. Saxicolous Mosses

This is the fourth in a series of posts exploring the mosses and liverworts (bryophytes) of Whiteknights campus. My first three posts described the rich flora of bryophytes growing on trees (epiphytes) on campus. In this post attention is turned to mosses growing on stone, including walls and other man-made rock-like surfaces. Continue reading

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Mosses & Liverworts of Whiteknights: 2. Epiphytic Liverworts

A mat of the very common thalloid liverwort Metzgeria furcata. Image by D. Morris

A mat of the very common thalloid liverwort Metzgeria furcata. Image by D. Morris

2. Epiphytic Liverworts

This is the third in a series of posts exploring the mosses and liverworts (bryophytes) of the Whiteknights campus. My first two posts introduced some common and not so common mosses of trees (epiphytes), and this post will address the liverworts to be found in association with these on campus. Liverworts are not very well represented in most parts of lowland England so one need not fear being overwhelmed by species. Continue reading

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Winter Tree Identification

To the majority of people trees are hard enough to identify in the summer, let alone in the winter. Take away the leaves and you would be forgiven for saying they all look the same. However the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) decided that it was time to change this view by hosting a winter tree identification workshop open to Reading University students.

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Mosses and Liverworts of Whiteknights: More Epiphytic Mosses

This is the second in a series of posts exploring the mosses and liverworts (bryophytes) of Whiteknights campus. My first post covered epiphytic mosses and I promised there to introduce liverworts next. However, having found four more epiphytic mosses I have gotten myself much too excited to be able to finish with mosses just yet. Once these are off my chest I shall be able to get on with liverworts. Continue reading

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Mosses & Liverworts of Whiteknights: 1. Epiphytic Mosses

Epiphytes

Epiphytes growing on an oak branch: Cryphaea heteromalla and Orthotrichum affine. Image by D. Morris

1. Epiphytic Mosses

Since the onset of winter I have been out with my nose to trees and paths looking at the moss and liverwort flora of Whiteknights. This is the first in a series of blog posts describing some of the species I have found according to where they grow. I have not aimed to write an identification guide to our commonest species (e.g. Brachythecium rutabulum and Kindbergia praelonga), but to provide a glimpse of the fascinating biology and ecology of mosses and liverworts (bryophytes) as exampled by those occurring on campus. I have written this with the lay reader especially in mind, and so shall introduce any terminology and taxonomy as it becomes necessary. More information is available on Dr Jonathan Mitchley’s blog and in the BBS field guide. I hope that after reading these posts you will be curious enough to take a closer look at bryophytes, and if not learn how to name them at least to appreciate their varied beauty. Continue reading

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Bird Tracking

Black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus,) by Whiteknights Lake, December 2014.

Black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus,) by Whiteknights Lake, December 2014.

On December 12th a colour-ringed black-headed gull, white 26L1, was spotted on Whiteknights Lake by dedicated campus birdwatcher Peter Gipson. Pleasingly, it proved to have been ringed as part of the Berkshire gull scheme run by Tim Ball’s Reading and Basingstoke ringing group. The scheme has been running at a number of Berkshire black-headed gull breeding colonies since 2007. So far, most birds have been ringed at Hosehill Lake, just to the southwest of Reading near Junction 12 of the M4, with smaller numbers at Lea Farm Gravel Pit to the east and Moor Green Lakes to the southeast (where the project initially began).

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New Year’s Hunt at Whiteknights

The BSBI New Year’s Hunt takes place in the period 1st to 4th January this year. I went out on the 2nd which was sunny but not particularly warm. Even searching the sunniest banks I could find, I was still disappointed with my count: Only 20 species. Maybe I should have spent more time in the open grassland areas. Last year Dr M and his students found 38 species. Most of the species on their list that I didn’t find were meadow species still flowering from the previous year. Continue reading

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