Tuesday, 9 March 2021

MOSSES AND LICHENS on a dry stone wall.

This little plant (plant?) takes only a couple of square centimetres of space.
 You know that feeling of awe and joy which swells so large in your chest that it blocks your throat and you can't speak? You turn away and the world calms. Then you look back and the same thing happens. This great big bubble fills your breathing space and all you can do is smile and be happy? That happened to me this morning when I paused by a wall, rich in mosses and lichens - and caught sight of this tiny space of red filaments.

It was quite extraordinary, how many types of moss and lichen were there on that wall.

Mostly, when I come across so many things I don't know about, I start searching the internet to find their names. By the time I've found them the month has marched on and I fail to post about them. With mosses and lichens I have reached a stage of release otherwise known as 'giving up'. I will never know what they all are. I will never understand them. I will just marvel and enjoy them.


When photographing these, I didn't move a foot. So in that sense, it's a 'Stuck Foot Post'. But in another it's far short of that. There were so many mosses and lichens on these few square feet of wall, I have not shown them all. I didn't even begin to look at the other plants.

 This wall is not far from the village of Wainstalls in West Yorkshire. It's on the border between moorland and farmland. On one side of the narrow road there's rough grass and little streams. On the other there are sheep grazing in fields with dry stone walls around them - like this one - descending into the comparative lushness of a valley. It's all very steep. And this morning it was almost immersed in mist.

I'd begun higher up. But higher up was completely blanked out. Everything except an occasional small thorn tree had vanished behind whiteness. Oddly, though, I kept thinking I could see tall, bare branched trees ahead. My mind was creating them.


Lichens and mosses on this small piece of wall are packed together; intermingled. Each half stone seems to be a tiny and varied garden.


 Some of the mosses were neat and self-contained. Almost like cactuses.



 Some lichens were spread out like stars.



There were rows of elphin cups.



 And distinct circles.



 Mountain slopes on a minuscule scale.

And stark, exotic, rocky landscapes, all on a wall.

Of course, I would like to know what these lichens and mosses are so I'm hoping some of you will be able to tell me.


And I'll come full circle, returning to the wonderful red filaments which first caught my eye.

All photographs in this post were taken on 9th March 2021

21 comments:

Amanda Peters said...

I too every year go down the rabit hole of mosses and lichens, they are so wonderful and annoyingly hard to ID. But hopefully each year I learn a little more. Have posted on Facebook group and a nice man who it turns out is not far from you at Hebden bridge, says it one of the best places in Yorkshire for Bryophytes.
Love the photos, hope to have a post up tomorrow on my mossy trip to the moor.
Take care Amanda xx

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Amanda. That's interesting about Hebden Bridge. You are right, it's very close.
I'll keep an eye out for your mosses on the moor post and put a link from here.

Lisbeths Haveblog said...

I love your way of focusing on tiny things. Things that I just pass by. Wonderfull pics. Very inspiring.
Lisbeth

Laura Bloomsbury said...

your images have captured that awe and joy you felt and passed it on to the viewer. This was a fabulous trek through the miniature world which has so much to show us if only we could look and see as you do.(I've recently encountered the Australian fungi fetish man on YouTube - I forget his name - who brings many of those small marvels to light)

Flighty said...

Interesting post and photos about a fascinating subject about which I know far too little. xx

liz said...

Lucy, phenomenal photographs. Your posts always nudge me to pay closer attention to what is close by, that I may have overlooked. What a wonderful assortment of mosses and lichens. Are those stone walls close to your home? I can imagine the pastoral setting with sheep and streams and valleys. Lovely. Thank you.

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Thank you for opening my eyes once again to the wonder all around us, I really must stop and look around more than I do x

Sue Garrett said...

Mosses and lichens have always fascinated me. There's something other worldly about them

Diana Studer said...

Yours is the third blog I read, at or near Hebden Bridge. I had never heard of the place a few weeks ago.

Slowly learning bits of moss and lichen on iNaturalist. Some, like the pixie cups, are distinctive and unique.

Hollis said...

This is wonderful, Lucy! The wall is so "over"grown with mosses and lichens ... how old is it do you think?

Granny Sue said...

Lucy! I am so happy to see you blogging again. I have missed your insightful view of the world. Sounds like the very best kind of walk, one in which to lose yourself in what you see. Sending love from West Virginia.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Everyone. Sorry it's taking so long to reply.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Lisbeths. I'm glad to know that you enjoy discovering these small parts of nature along with Loose and Leafy.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Laura. I'm pleased to read that you discovered some of the joy of these tiny fungi and lichens through the text and pictures.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Flighty. There is so much to know about fungi and lichens - so much that it seems almost impossible. So much that I've decided it's all beyond me - except for delight and awe.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Liz. It depends what you mean by 'close'. It would take a bit more than an hour to get to this wall on foot but it's only ten minutes away in a car - straight up the hill I'm living on but way, way up high. It's really interesting to be living in the Pennines. The landscape, even the air, changes as you go further and further up the road. My own, immediate neighbourhood is very urban - falling down mills and terraced houses. Yet a few contours away and it's sheep and moorland. Follow the hill round and go down into the valley and it's verdant. It strikes me it would be really interesting to study just this one hill. We have everything - there's even a theatre.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Looking for Blue Sky. I think you have enough on your plate without looking for small things too so I am glad to be able to provide you with an occasional small window into the world of usually-un-noticed things.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Sue. Yes. Other worldly. Almost unnerving.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Diana. It's strange how that happens. Never hear of a thing or a place then suddenly it seems to be on every page, every screen. Hebden Bridge is a little along the Calder Valley from Halifax - about twenty minutes in a car. We share the hills and views around. It's a wonderful area.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Hollis - and these were only some of the lichens and mosses there!
Unfortunately I don't know how old the wall is and I don't know how to find out. I don't know either whether you are able to access BBC items but just in case, this link is to a short video on dry stone walling in Yorkshire.
Calderdale (where I am) is in West Yorkshire - so you get some glimpses of the scenery round here too.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/magazine-33819675

The walls round here don't have the anti-wolf topping mentioned in the presentation so they are presumably less than 700 years old. I guess there may be maps to consult . . . but maybe the only way to tell how old a wall is would be to get a lichen or moss expert to take a look, do it that way round.
I'm stuck. But it's a question I would like to know the answer to so may be one day find a way to come up with one.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Granny Sue. Thank you for your warm words. I doubt I will properly get back into regular blogging until the autumn but I will continue to post occasionally until them, either in single posts or short bursts.