After Friday’s storm and Saturday’s heavy showers most of the bryophytes looked in good condition for the Lothian Bryophyte Group’s first meeting of 2022/23 season. We took two hours to reach our main destination, a raised bog on the edge of Armadale about a quarter of a mile away from the meeting place. Before setting off David Chamberlain drew our attention to Tortula truncata in fruit around a manhole cover. Then some time was spent looking at epiphytes on an oak where the experts debated the identity of tufts of Ulota which may include Ulota intermedia. However the main reason for our slow pace was the rich bryophyte interest on the sides of a deep ditch in which we found Fossombronia pusillus and an abundance of pale green Pohlia wahlenbergii as well as Blasia pusilla and Pseudephemerum nitidum.
David Chamberlain then ventured onto the mat of wet moss at a deep pool described as a curling pond and produced Calliergon cordifolium. On the fringing willows was Ulota phyllantha, the only member of this genus which most of us could name with confidence (and now known as Plenogemma phyllantha). The final stop before reaching Black Moss was to investigate the bryophytes on some young aspen.
The eastern half of Black Moss is a town nature reserve with a boundary path on three sides, while the western half is private land with fewer signs of active management. We crossed a fallen fence to look at Sphagnum species around a wet pool in the western half. Liz Kungu checked our wilder identification attempts and the species recorded were S fallax, S palustre, S tenellum S cuspidatum, S capillifolium ssp rubellum, S squarrosum and, thanks to Zoe Gardner, S medium (formerly S magellanicum). Abundant Polytrichum strictum suggested that the peat was deep at this part of the Moss.
After lunch we followed the fence dividing the two halves of Black Moss, moving through three monads, and then took northern boundary path past Armadale Academy until we reached the edge of the town. Andreaea rupestris and Racomitrium affine were found on large boulders between the path and the Moss. Liz, David, and Vladimir left us to work on the Urban Flora project while Lyn Jones and myself explored the eastern fringe of Black Moss. Drainage barriers were in place to help restore this part of the raised bog and Lyn found Gymnocolea inflata in some of the wetter pools. Some of the Sphagna seen earlier were also present here, including S medium.
At one point our group was watched by 7 roe deer, curious to know what we were doing. Sarah saw a snipe and many meadow pipits, and there were still some summer insects such as Noon Fly Mesembrina meridiana basking in the sunshine. The weather was kind to us and, as usual, there were plenty of bryological surprises to help make the outing enjoyable and interesting.