Last Saturday, 25th January, the Mosses and Liverworts walk went ahead in Hardcastle Crags. There were 5 of us on the walk including an employee of English Nature invited by Johnny Turner, the Brylogist who was leading us. (Johnny has recently been welcomed as a member of Halifax Scientific Society.)
A liverwort – Plagiochila asplenioides
Liverworts were not my favourite plants for many years as a gardener, having to weed them from the compost around plants in pots, until I learned that many of them are as attractive as mosses, and all grow in their own particular habitat. The one above carpets rocks in damp, shady woodland. It needs slightly less acid rocks. I didn’t realise how frequent these are in Hardcastle Crags.
The moss – Dicranum majus – the one I find most attractive of the many we saw. This one was at the base of the top dam at Gibson Mill.
Johnny uses common names whenever they exist, for instance Catherine’s Moss, which was also there, named after Catherine the Great of Russia, who claimed it was her favourite moss.
Among birds we saw were the reliable Dipper on the top dam, along with 8 Mallards, which never used to frequent Hardcastle Crags. Perhaps they are trying to escape the mink of lower waters.
At the two Heron’s nests high above Midgehole Road I witnessed a change-over on the nest as I walked up from Hebden Bridge, showing that at least one pair are incubating eggs already.
We passed by a large and beautiful Tsuga, probably Tsuga heterophylla, the Western Hemlock, a conifer from North America, I had never noticed before, at the top side of Hebden Hey. It was raining heavily by then, so I didn’t take a photograph.
It was a brilliant field meeting despite the rain that came on at the end, and a subject I think many people would get a lot of satisfaction from, with a good introduction as we had, and a little study.