Saturday, 13 March 2010

Wallingford Mosses

I joined a local Natural History group tour of Wallingford town centre investigating the inconspicuous mosses and liverworts that at other times of the year are often overlooked. For a report on all that the group found please look here. The onset of Spring continued with a much milder feel to the weather. The trip proved a good excuse to use the 'super macro' facility of my camera and capture some of the micro-marvels of nature. We saw a good range of mosses, lichens and other wildlife.

There were architectural ones on walls.

moss

'Hairy' ones on churchyard gravestones.

moss

Tiny ones, looking like they are in bud or bunches of asparagus.

moss

Mosses are normally a boring shade of green but when they dry out, a wider colour palette is on show.

moss

Some are delicate tiny pin cushions of dense leaves

moss

While others turn bark into a 'forest'

moss

Although the focus was on the mosses, while I had the hand lens and camera out, lichens caught my attention too. A church wall had a fine collection of 'pixie cups' (Cladonia chlorophaea) where the lichens fruiting body form these 'alien' structures (with a few mosses too).

lichen

The afternoon sun broke through and lit up this healthy group of lichen on a branch.

lichen

The river Thames has a number of alders growing along its banks. The catkins were just out, this close-up shows how the surface of the catkin opens up to release the pollen.

alder,catkins

There were a number of birds around, including a lucky glimpse of two kingfishers flying up and down the river. Stock doves were seen as well as a red kite as well as the usuals. On the Thames, this Great Crested Grebe was making an unusually large amount of noise.

grebe,great crested grebe,bird

Finally we ended up at the main and ancient bridge over the Thames leading back into the ancient town of Wallingford.

wallingford,bridge