16 October 2018 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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Back in August we were lucky enough to be invited to assist with bryophyte (moss and liverwort) recording on the Woodland Trust Glen Finglas estate. The recording day was instigated and lead by Jane Jones (Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland) and Gwen Raes (Woodland Trust Estate Ranger). We were also joined by Jack Ravenscroft (Woodland Trust Ecological Research volunteer) and bryophyte expert Gordon Rothero (British Bryological Society).
Gwen skilfully drove us along the long, steep track north east of Glen Finglas reservoir to Creagan nan Sgiath and the lower slopes of Ben Vane, which would otherwise have been a 27km round trip on foot from the Glen Finglas car park! I have experienced this particular walk (otherwise known as the Mell circuit) on a previous jaunt and can vouch it is long and gruelling and would certainly leave limited opportunity to search the upper crags for bryological treasures….although I was treated to spectacular close views of a golden eagle on that occasion…swings and roundabouts!
Getting a lift to the site meant we could focus our efforts on recording our target location…the calcareous montane crags Creagan nan Sgiath, where we recorded 99 species of moss and liverwort at heights of 450m to 650m a.s.l. The most interest was present on the highest calcareous crags where nationally scarce Encalypta ciliata, Scapania cuspiduligera, Scapania degenii and Bryum dixonii were recorded. The bryophytes recorded overall are a distinctive and reasonably diverse group which are localised but fairly typical of this habitat type - upland calcareous crags. There are frequent cushions of Grimmia funalis and occasionally occurring Anoectangium aestivum, Molendoa warburgii, Ditrichum gracile, Orthothecium intricatum, Thuidium delicatulum, Mnium marginatum and Plagiobryum zieri. One species, Racomitrium elongatum, was recognised as being a first for the vice county in which the site occurs (West Perthshire). This was recorded on gravelly soil on the lower slopes.
With a little time to spare on the drive back round the Mell circuit we climbed up towards a small incised ravine on the lower slopes beneath Creag a Mhadaidh north west of Ben Vane. The greatest interest was recorded in flushes below the ravine, not least from a splendid display of dozens of peacock butterflies amongst rushes and devil’s bit scabious, but with the addition of an assemblage of base demanding species including Campylium stellatum, Scorpidium cossonii, Scorpidium revolvens, Sphagnum contortum and Sphagnum inundatum. Their presence which indicates some base rich flushing spurred us on with promise for potentially interesting species in the ravine, but alas it would only be the precipitous climb into the ravine that got my heart going!
A good day of recording thanks to the team. There is still more scope for further recording in the glen with more unexplored crags to conquer!