As faithful readers of this blog will know, I have spent some years looking at birds (and still do) but a few days ago was distracetd by a splendid Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) dragonfly in the garden – see previous post for photographs – and thought “here’s a new avenue to explore”, since when I have been supplied with encouraging offers of help and support from Odonata-ologists of my acquaintance. However, even Odes have to be hunted down and that’s just too enervating on a too hot weekend like this and so …

… during the winter I found myself reading about and becoming interested in mosses. Those un-flashy green mats in shady corners that nobody really looks at. I think that they are perhaps the perfect subject for an ageing wildlifer like me – they present interesting ID challenges (and how!), they are not mobile, you dn’t have to get up at dawn to see them at their best and they live in the shade. What’s not to like for a bio-nerd? I already had the book – see picture below – J bought me a professional mossologist’s achromatic hand lens and today I headed out to finally work out what that green stuff beside the bird-magnet waterfall in the garden might be.

What it might be – and I stress might – is Philonotis fontana or Fountain moss. What I have determined is that moss identification is on a higher plane altogether than birds and insects. Basically, mosses all look pretty much the same unless you have the magic hand lens … and even then they stay just as confusing except that now you can see more confusing detail. Are they acrocarpal, pleurocarpal or peat mosses? Are the 1mm long leaves lanceolate or hair-like or ovate or sickle shaped or perhaps they don’t have leaves at all.Do they have midribs? Does this tyro mossologist need to lie down with a stiff drink?

Anyway – if there are any mossologists out there who know their stuff I’d like to hear your thoughts on the photos that follow. Either way, I rather think this moss business, small and portable and cool as it is, might become quite the thing in the years to come.

Note to self – do NOT even think about looking at lichens.

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