Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)
Mon 24 Nov 2008 Allt Mhuic Nature Reserve, Loch Arkaig.
A lichen course run by the Native Woodlands Discussion Group. Leaders were Andy Acton, Anna Griffith and Brian Coppins. The course lasted the weekend but only on the Monday morning was it dry enough for photos.
The wooded part of the reserve consists mostly of oak and birch trees which are home to many scarce lichens. The photos show some of these and also some commoner ones that we found.
Starting off with species on Birch. Melanelixia fuliginosa ssp glabratula is common but I think this is the first photo we've had of it. Pyrrhospora quernea, looking like gold leaf, is rarer, being mainly a southern species.
Graphis elegans, a script lichen similar to the common G scripta. Lecanactis abietina is a pinkish crustose lichen with thickly pruinose fruits, usually found on the drier side of acid trees such as Birch, in cracks between the bark.
It's always a great moment when you first see live something that's often caught your eye in the books. This is Bryoria fuscescens, rather like an Usnea only dark brown. It's supposed to be quite common on Birch so I guess it's just a matter of knowing what to look for.
Cladonia diversa on Birch, we've previously had it from dry stone walls. The whitish crust to its left is Ochrolechia androgyna. The golden speckles in the RH pic are Japewia subaurifera.
These are two species associated with ancient pine/birch woods, both here on birch. The first is Protoparmelia ochrococca, the brown one in the picture - I did take closer views but they didn't come out well. The second is Arthonia leucopellaea, with a pink-tinged thallus and rather irregularly-shaped black fruits.
Mycoblastus sanguinarius, or Bleeding-heart Lichen, shows bright red when you scratch the surface. Ochrolechia androgyna (2nd pic) has greenish soralia and is very common on the trunks of trees, as is O tartarea which is has apothecia instead of soralia and appears below O androgyna in the third picture. (O androgyna can sometimes have apothecia too). The poor-quality pics are probably due to my hands being very cold.
One of the party found this extraordinary brain-like mutation on Ochrolechia tartarea. Not sure what tree it was on. Moving on to lichens on Rowan, which, like Hazel, supports lichens of the Lobarion community, we start with the jelly lichen Leptogium brebissonii
Lobaria amplissima, seen here in its wet, green, state. It's pale blue-grey when dry. It's the least common of the 4 Lobaria species and is here surrounded by Nephroma parile, a species of ancient woodland, seen in close-up in the second picture.
More than once we came across all four Lobaria species on a single tree.
Loxospora elatina is another old woodland indicator, seen here on Oak. Its greenish soralia join together to form a continuous covering. Sticta fuliginosa, also on Oak, is fond of old mossy trees.
Pertusaria multipuncta on Hazel. The apothecia are covered with soralia. Pertusaria amara, in the RH pic, is recognised by the bitter taste of its soralia. It normally lacks apothecia.
We also saw signs of Wild Boar which are loose in the area, but
did not see the animals themselves.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer