25 March 2014

LNHG recording field trip along Sustrans cycle track south-east from Appin

Photos by Jan Hamilton and Carl Farmer.  Mouse over the photos for photo credits and other info.

After weeks of miserable weather the forecast was good for this outing, but very disappointingly it rained almost all the time.  Despite that it was an enjoyable walk.

Our aim was to add to the plant lists for two sections of cycle track (NM 9445 and NM 9545) which had not previously been surveyed in springtime.  We were also hoping to add to the 354 plant taxa so far recorded for the cycle track as a whole.

We added 11 new plants for the first of these sections and 6 for the second.  Just one new plant for the cycle track as a whole took the total to 355.

Rumex x pratensis

This is it - Rumex x pratensis, the hybrid between Broad-leaved Dock and Curly Dock.  It's quite common but under-recorded.

Unknown lichen

The most puzzling find of the day was this extraordinary lichen on willow.  The surface has green areas and white areas, connected by areas that are white with green dots.  The lip-shaped soralia on the lobe ends suggest Parmotrema perlatum, but the lichen lacked cilia and had virtually no rhizines, as well as having different chemical reactions from P perlatum.  If it is P perlatum it's a very odd form of it.

Unknown lichen

In places it was richly fertile with large apothetica, whose undersides were green with white dots.  I'm awaiting the opinion of an expert as to what it might be.

Crataegus monogyna

As this and the next 9 photos show, nature's artistry and Jan's photography were made for each other.

Pertusaria pertusa

The Dice Lichen, Pertusaria pertusa

Rabdophaga salicis gall on Salix cinerea   Rabdophaga rosaria gall on Salix aurita

Gall-midges in the genus Rabdophaga make a variety of galls on willow.  These two are the work of R salicis (Willow Stem Gall) and R rosaria (Willow Cabbage Gall).  The gall provides both protection and food for the growing larva.


Ramalina fastigiata   Ramalina farinacea

The three Ramalina species commonly found on Hawthorn: R fastigiata on the left (with terminal apothecia), R farinacea on the right (without apothecia but with powdery soralia along the sides), and R calicaris below (with apothecia on bends in the stem, which has a channelled appearance)

Ramalina calicaris

This specimen of R calicaris is under attack from a black ascomycete fungus which I have not yet been able to identify (it did not give spores).  R farinacea was also affected by this fungus.

Peltigera horizontalis

The Horizontal Dog Lichen, Peltigera horizontalis.

Pogonatum urnigerum with antheridia

Male "flowers" of the wall-top moss Pogonatum urnigerum.

Ilex aquifolium 'Bacciflava'

Yellow-berried Holly, a garden cultivar of the native Holly that has escaped to the cycle track verge

Cycle track

In contrast to the calcareous influence north-west of Appin, the cycle track passes through very acidic country as it goes south-east towards Creagan.  I noticed that Primrose was missing from the NM 9545 plant list, but despite the time of year and the seemingly suitable habitat we could not find one.  The track as a whole winds through a great diversity of habitats, hence the high number of plant species recorded along its length, and the very low number (currently only 2, I think) recorded from every section.

Arctium minus agg

In April signs of winter compete with signs of spring to catch the eye.  Dead Burdock heads with disused spider web.

Lobaria pulmonaria, fertile   Lobaria scrobiculata, fertile

The cycle track is new but the railway line was there over a century before it, so the strips of woodland along the sides have had time to acquire a good covering of lichens.  Here are Lobaria pulmonaria and Lobaria scrobiculata, both fertile.  In the top left of the second pic is Sticta fuliginosa infected with the lichenicolous fungus Abrothallus welwitschii.

Clinker by old railway

Jan pointed out lumps of clinker beside the track from the days of steam.

Blue quasi-lichen

More recent discards may have something to do with this bright blue lichen, new to science!

Trees by River Iola

Journey's end - Jan's photo of trees beside the river Iola, looking towards Beinn Donn.  Here the cycle track leaves the old railway and goes alongside the road for a while, making for a less interesting walk.  It also exits the second of today's target sections.  Time for a brisk hike back in the rain, looking out for anything we might have missed on the way.  Still no primrose!

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All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  Some photos on this page are Jan Hamilton