Getting close and personal

… To moss. My hand lens has finally arrived all the way from China. This fact also means it was very cheap but it’s of good quality, despite the writing rubbing off immediately!


This little piece of kit has opened a whole new world to me, probably a few new worlds but I’ve only discovered one of them thus far. This is the minute details in different species of moss!

It’s also made me able to follow keys, as previously the details that they were mentioning were unseeable to my eyes. Now however… Here’s a run-through of a sphagnum that I picked up from a wee patch of bog that I stumbled upon.

  • Stem cortex conspicuous, thickness about 1/3 of stem radius; branch leaf apices hooded >>>

>>> Key 1: Section Sphagnum

  1. At least some leaves, in capitula or on spreading branches, red or pink, or with hint of flecks of red or pink >>>

>>> 2. Pinkish-orange or brick-red colour present in capitula and possibly some branches; capitula a different colour from and darker than branches; stem green or brown; spreading branches long and tapering. Common and widespread, not usually on bogs

= Sphagnum palustre.

Whilst some of these features aren’t quite fitting (not very red/pink, found by bog), this species fits best, plus, the fact it’s shaded by the conifers means it doesn’t develop such bright, obvious colours. Also, S. palustre does occur on bogs, more typically at the edge,  in a ditch or woodland and not typical on intact bog. This fits my wee patch of bog as it’s only about 10m across, has Downy Birch Betula pubescens growing in it, and is in the middle of a conifer plantation! Still an ace wee patch of habitat that I’m going to keep my eye on…

I’ve done a lot of keying over today and yesterday. Here are most of the mosses that I think I’ve managed to ID correctly…

Some help was had from the Bryophytes of Britain and Ireland Facebook group and also on Twitter so check those out.

Whilst out looking at the ground, I inevitably end up spotting other things. These have included Crossbills, a Woodcock, a Harvestman, a (so far) unidentified spider, and some victims of Storm Gertrude.

Another thing I found yesterday when showing a couple course-mates around West Woods and Tyrebagger Forest, was this huge pile of Norway Spruce Picea abies cone remains below, who’d have guessed, a Norway Spruce. This could only have been the work of one animal …


… and today I was fortunate enough to have a pretty close encounter with said creature!


Sciurus vulgaris, the Red Squirrel

I know I’ve already seen Red Squirrel this year, but this one felt far more special than the many we saw in Carnie Woods as they’re fed and pretty tame and all that. So this squirrel was appreciated far more. I actually stood there for about 5 mins just having a wee stare-off with it. The squirrel won as I decided to leave it be.

I’m hoping that at some point I’ll be able to confirm whether there are Pine Martens Martes martes in West Woods/Tyrebagger Forest, almost certainly with a trail camera. Speaking of Pine Martens, we managed to get “our” campus marten into the Press and Journal! I didn’t know it was happening but nice that it has!


A rhetorical question to finish off with, how great was Winterwatch?

Norway Spruce, Picea abies
Getting close and personal

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