Thursday, 16 February 2017

A Promise of Spring

Just a quick whizz out and about today. Spent a short while on the beach and found a couple of extra bits - Chainweed Catenella caespitosa fringing the base of a large rock near the high water mark, growing beneath Serrated Wrack just like it says in the book. Also managed some better pics of the marine lichen Verrucaria mucosa, these showing a nice olive colouration

A far better background than yesterday's image!
And although this next image will make your focus swim, this was the best I could manage of the tiny Lichina confinis, one I've not seen before. Very similar to Lichina pygmaea but found below the mid-water mark as opposed to the upper levels. It still seems really weird to me that we have marine lichens, until recently I had always assumed they'd simply die if immersed in saltwater. In the spray zone yes, but truly marine? Nope, just seems intrinsically wrong. 

Yeah I know - crap! Grey lichen on grey rock taken on a grey day, what d'ya expect?
This also was new to me but definitely dead and hence not countable (despite everything that this article says!) This is Snail Fur Hydractinia echinata, an encrusting hydroid that settles on whelk shells inhabited by hermit crabs. Can't wait to find both living animals!

Very dead colony of "the immortal"  Snail Fur Hyrdactinia echinata on a washed-up whelk shell
Leaving the beach I headed into Uig Woods. I had an explore at the back of the community centre car park and found a flourishing patch of variegated Yellow Archangel, presumably originating from garden throw-out material

Should look amazing when in flower, despite undoubtedly being of garden origin
The woodland floor is absolutely erupting with green life. Large areas are carpeted in thousands upon thousands of Ground-elder seedlings, Common Nettles and Broad-leaved Docks are also starting to push through. Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage is abundant here, I can hardly envision how absolutely stunning it's going to look here when they start flowering! The stream has had a sudden flush of life too, this was just bare mud last week

Marsh Marigold - I love this plant, it's just so great for insects!
Last thing of note was Ramularia gei, a micro-fungus that infects the living leaves of Wood Avens. The purple border isn't always conspicuous, or even present, but it shows well here. This has been visible all through the winter, I just kept missing it until today.

Ramularia gei - a new one for me
Outside of NG3963 I found patches of Scytinium (Leptogium) gelatinosum growing on top of a low wall. It's a bizarre lichen, with a jelly-like quality (hence the name) and it took me a while to decide that it really was a lichen rather than Nostoc or an alga. I carelessly neglected to take a pic of it in situ, so here's a poor pic of a piece I brought home

Scytinium (Leptogium) gelatinosum - weird green gloopy gunky stuff
Regards my 1000 species in a 1km square challenge I'm up to 340 species for the year. So that's the first third of the 1000 species under the belt. Should go a bit slower for the next month or so before the inverts burst into action - then it'll all go mental for a few months! I'm well ahead of my 2013 tally for the 7th week of the year. In 2013 I reached 300 species on 26th February and 400 on 17th April. Hopefully I'll hit 400 before March is out this year. Scytinium gelatinosum doesn't make it onto that list seeing as it was from an adjacent square. Just have to go find it closer to home...


  1. It's a hydroid! Still a mystery group to me, more or less. Snail fur. Well, well. It may be dead but it is now the only recorded grazing substrate of the springtail Anurida denisi in Scotland :)

  2. p.s. there's a tiny bivalve that is said to live in Lichina colonies, though I haven't seen it yet

  3. And THIS is what I love about PSL blogging - we're always learning off of each other. I bet there's stuff even Dave Gibbs and Jonty Denton can learn from us :)