Looking for a spore capsule in a bog wood

Flanders Moss NNR

Yesterday we were out in the wonderfully wild and wet west end of Flanders Moss in Ballengrew wood looking for evidence of the green shield-moss (Buxbaumia viridis). Enthusiastic followers of this blog might remember that last year there was great excitement in the moss and liverwort world when a shriveled spore capsule of this very rare and endangered moss was found at Flanders Moss (read here)  about 80 miles further south of the limit of its previous range.

The best time to look for this moss is now, in the winter. It has tiny leaves that are virtually invisible in the field but it’s 1cm high, bright green spore capsule is visible with a bit of searching. So on a bright but bitterly cold day Rory Whytock of the British Bryological Society and myself set ourselves the task of searching rotten logs on the west edge of Flanders. Well, to keep it brief we didn’t find any. Four hours of searching but no bright green spore capsules. This wasn’t a complete surprise because in other surveys for this plant further north it was found that surveyors had to walk an average 25 km for every plant found.  There are an awful lot of rotten trees in the woods at Flanders but very few with the perfect state of rottenness for Buxbaumia.

But we won’t give up, we will keep looking this winter and in future years but for yesterday it was a day to just enjoy the shape and form of the miniature world of the small stuff. I don’t know the names of most of these but that didn’t matter, it was just a pleasure spending some time looking at them.

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