Lichens of Kempton Nature Reserve

First off, I have some very exciting news; I have be offered a 3 month placement this summer July-September on Skokholm Island, located off the south-west coast of Pembrokeshire, where I will be working alongside the wardens maintaining the island, greeting visitors and surveying and ringing puffins, manx shearwaters and storm petrels among other wonderful things! I am very excited and grateful for this opportunity 😀

Apart from it’s seabirds, Skokholm is known for its amazing array of lichens. This got me thinking about the lichens I have previously noticed in one particular area of Kempton Nature Reserve. So I went back to have a proper look and ended up spending a lovely sunny afternoon on my knees half way up a gravelly lichen-covered bank with my face and hand lens to the ground…. An afternoon well spent I think! I am definitely no lichenologist, but  I had a good stab at identifying what I found. And had a lot of fun along the way! As always feel free to correct me.

Cladonia portentosa

Cladonia portentosa

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Cladonia pyxidata

Cladonia pyxidata

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Cladonia pyxidata with C. portentosa

C. pyxidata with C. portentosa

Peltigera hymenina

Peltigera hymenina

Peltigera hymenina, showing the pale rhizines

Peltigera hymenina, showing the pale underside and rhizines

IMG_4143Next task is to get stuck in to the bryophytes…. That might require more than one afternoon though 😉

Green Sandpiper, Pixie-cup Lichen and Kempton Nature Reserve Open Day

Hi all!

I’ve managed to do a bit of birding lately and hope to do a lot more as the months turn colder. I love Autumn!

This afternoon I got a great view of a lovely Green sandpiper at Kempton NR!

I’ve been told my camera is unfixable and I will need to purchase a new body, not something I will be able to afford any time soon! So apologises for the appalling photo but you get the idea.

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Can you spot him (or her)?

I also saw a Snipe and a Grey wagtail in the same spot last week. And I’m 99% sure a Clouded yellow butterfly flitted past and off in to the distance! Pretty unmistakable but I didn’t get a decent view before it disappeared, never to be seen again despite my persistent searching. I know that one was spotted earlier this year in this area and apparently they can still be seen on the wing as late as November!

There has been a number of Jack snipe sightings at London WWT so I went to have a look after volunteering last Friday but no luck! But I did see a couple of Snipe, a Stonechat and lots of Wigeon and Teal. Can’t complain!

I also wanted to share with you my favourite lichen.

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Cladonia pyxidata

As part of my Masters I had to make a lower plant collection and, as much as I appreciate mosses and liverworts some of them are, to be blunt, a pain in the arse to identify! So much of my collection was made up of lichens, and I grew to really love them.

Apart from the ones that grow on stone, they rival the mosses and liverworts when it comes to difficult identification. Plus they aren’t quite as pleasing to the eye.

This one is Cladonia pyxidata or ‘pixie-cup lichen’ said to be used by pixies as cups to sip the morning dew from……. Well, I like to think so any way 😉

Cladonia pyxidata

Cladonia pyxidata

In fact all the Cladonia species are pretty impressive! If you look at the left of that last photo you can see Cladonia rangiferina or ‘reindeer lichen’.

You can come and see these lovely lichens for yourself at Kempton Nature Reserve open day on the 26th of October and help celebrate the opening of the new hide! Which is definitely worth celebrating – it is gorgeous!

And in case you were wondering, so is the view.

View from the new hide at Kempton NR

View from the new hide at Kempton NR

Membership is £20 for 3 years (a steal!) but on this day it is open to the public so come along and get a taste of this beautiful wetland…. Apparently there will also be some ‘autumnal activities’!

More info here if you are interested and this is the official flyer!