Welcome to the naturalist's shack - a place to store a few pictures and links on local and global habitats from a personal perspective.
Moors for the Future have a new Community Science Project, looking for signs of mammals in the uplands, the Tails of the Uplands Survey. (Follow the link for details of how to get involved and training courses available.)
Sphagna seen on Moors for the Future training day
Along with a team of field surveyors from the MoorLIFE 2020 project, I attended a training day to identify species of Sphagnum (Bog-moss) in the field. Field surveyors will then be able to locate and map these species. This information will then be used to verify classification from remote sensors using new techniques such as multi-spectral sensors placed on UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles).
Species of Sphagnum are very important as the main species responsible for peat creation, which locks up large stores of carbon. Particularly in the Peak District, many of these mosses were badly damaged by atmospheric pollution following the industrial revolution.
As it was a beautifully sunny day on Sunday 23 April, a walk out with the camera seemed like a good idea, so I decided on a stroll along the Peak Forest Canal, starting at New Mills.
There were a few butterflies to be seen, Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines), Comma (Polygonia c-album) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria).
Sphagna are distinctive mosses found in wet habitats in the British Isles, which formed most of the peat found in blanket bogs and raised bogs. This peat forms an important store of carbon.
There are 34 species of British Sphagna, which all share a few basic features:-
- a single stem ending in a capitulum
- side branches (both hanging and spreading) coming off the stem in groups known as fascicles
- stem and branch leaves made of a network of smaller, green, living cells and larger, clear dead cells which are able to hold a lot of water
The Wildflower Key
The wild flower guide that I use most often is 'The Wildflower Key' by Francis Rose. Although it is possible to just look at the (excellent) illustrations to identify the wild flowers you find, you'll get more out of it if you use the keys to help you make the correct identification.
Keys can seem intimidating if you haven't used them before, but once you get over the initial learning curve, you quickly realise how useful they are. A key will actually make you look at the the way the flower is put together, and teach you to notice features you might otherwise overlook such as the arrangement of the leaves on the stem.
I have recently joined the New Mills Natural History Society. They hold field meetings to look at wildlife.
We visited Old Dale, a limestone dale managed by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust between Buxton and Bakewell on the Monsal Trail. This was an enjoyable walk, especially for a botanist, as the slopes of the dale support a rich and varied flora. We saw two different orchids, Jacob's-ladder (Derbyshire's county flower), several species of St John's-wort, Flea Sedge, Mossy Saxifrage, Green Spleenwort and typical grasses of calcareous grasslands such as Meadow Oat-grass.
The first two photographs above are Common Twayblade (Neottia ovata). This orchid is shown in older textbooks as Listera ovata, but more recent molecular phylogenetic studies have shown it is closely related to Bird's-nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis) and the genera have been combined.