13 February 2016

Field Trip to Glen Nant - Plantlife Leaflet Launch

This walk was timed to tie in with the launch of Plantlife's Glen Nant walk leaflet at their Celtic Rainforest event in Taynuilt.  We set out to give the leaflet a trial run prior to its launch.

Studying the Plantlife Glen Nant walk leaflet

Some of the LNHG party studying the leaflet in the car park

Bunodophoron melanocarpum

Black-eyed Susan (Bunodophoron melanocarpum) is one of the special lichens of the Glen Nant woods.  The black fruits are on the underside of the lobe ends, shown here with Jan's camera pointing from the tree base up into the sky.

Rosa canina   Fomes fomentarius on oak twig

While we're looking upwards, here are the sunny hips of a Dog Rose that had clambered to a great height among the trees.  The oddity on the right is a Hoof Fungus on an oak twig.  This tough heavy bracket normally grows on trunks or large branches.  I'd never seen it or any other bracket fungus on a twig much narrower than itself.  The twig will break if the fungus grows much bigger, particularly as it's depleting the twig by feeding on it.  But all Hoof brackets end up on the ground, where they are hard as iron.  We found several that had fallen from birch trunks, their normal host in these woods.

Ochrolechia tartarea   Thelotrema lepadinum

Two crustose lichens, Cudbear (Ochrolechia tartarea), which is common on oak in our area, and the Barnacle Lichen (Thelotrema lepadinum), an inhabitant of old woodlands, often on hazel.

Menegazzia terebrata   Stenocybe nitida

Our old friend the Flute Lichen, found by Jan on birch.  The pic on the right shows the incredibly tiny pin fungus Stenocybe nitida, growing on the liverwort Plagiochila punctata, on birch.  Andy Acton pointed it out to us and Jan captured this macro shot of the pinheads which are hardly visible even with a lens.

Though not lichenised (i.e. they have no algal component) Stenocybe species are traditionally the province of the lichenologist, not the mycologist.  S pullatula is the common "Alder Pin" which can be found on almost any horizontal alder branch you care to examine.  But I had not previously encountered S nitida, which the Lichen Flora describes as "Partially buried in old tufts of leafy liverworts (usually Plagiochila punctata), especially on old trees and rocks in damp, humid situations; rather rare" (Smith et al 2009).  P punctata is a liverwort of Atlantic woodlands.  These are the hidden treasures of the Celtic Rainforest.

Scapania gracilis   Frullania sp

Two more liverworts.  Western Earwort (Scapania gracilis) at the spot where the trail leaflet said it was, and a Frullania species, probably F dilatata, one of the first bryophytes to grow over the crustose lichens that colonise smooth bark.  As the hazel stem matures, the Frullania is itself grown over by mosses and leafy lichens, till you end up with this...

Leptogium burgessii

The Frilly-fruited Jelly Lichen, growing over a carpet of moss and other lichens on a mature hazel stem.  The sun has dried it out, causing it to lose its rich colour and gelatinous consistency; these will return when it rains.


Hymenophyllum wilsonii, fertile

The delicate Wilson's Filmy Fern, with ripe black spore-cases

Pleurotus ostreatus

Oyster Mushrooms on a holly branch, and, below, Jan's photo of one of them from underneath, in situ.

Pleurotus ostreatus, underside

The Holly tree in question was a large female still covered with berries.  A Mistle Thrush flew off from the top of it as we approached.  It is likely that this bird had been guarding the tree to prevent other birds stripping the fruit.  Apart from Mistletoe, which does not grow in our area, Holly is the favourite food of the Mistle Thrush.  In some parts of the country the bird was once known as the Holm Thrush, Holm being an old name for Holly.  (info from Saga Magazine, see also Birds and Berries by B & D Snow and Wikipedia - Mistle Thrush)

Ilex aquifolium hoard of berry remains and seed husks   Ilex aquifolium hoard of berry remains and seed husks

Whoever left this hoard was feeding on the seeds, not the fleshy part of the berries favoured by the Mistle Thrush.  We thought a Wood Mouse the most likely but cannot rule out other small mammals.  I can find no information on anything eating holly seeds.

Birds were very scarce in the wintry woods.  Apart from the Mistle Thrush we saw only a Wren and a Woodcock.

We were surprised not to see any nests of the Scottish Wood Ant as they are normally conspicuous on a walk through Glen Nant, and persist for some time after the ants have deserted them.  Their absence on this occasion was very puzzling.

Ben Cruachan from Glen Nant

Ben Cruachan through the trees, from a high point on the new Glen Nant walk route.  We all thought the route an excellent introduction to what Glen Nant has to offer.  The walk leaflet describes 12 species and shows where to find them on the map.  We found all of them except no.12, the Gillie Dhu.  But maybe if you look carefully you'll spot him hiding in one of our photos.

After the walk we went to Taynuilt Village Hall for the Plantlife leaflet launch.  The event was opened by MSP Mike Russell who is species champion for Tree Lungwort.  This was followed by Stories about the Celtic Rainforest told by Claire Hewitt to an enthusiastic young audience.  The meeting was well attended and will have helped to raise awareness of Glen Nant and other Atlantic woodlands here in the west of Scotland.

A couple more of Jan's photos to finish up with.  The moss Thuidium tamariscinum and the fungus Plicatura crispa.

Thuidium tamariscinum   Plicatura crispa


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All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  Some photos on this page are Jan Hamilton.  Mouse over photos to see credits.