Lichen, bog moss, and lots of training!

Lichen with handlense

Last week was a busy training week for me. First up was a lichen course with some of my colleagues at Cumbria Wildlife Trust, led by the very knowledgeable Allan Pentecost, an emeritus professor from Kings College London.

We spent some time in the classroom learning the basic lichen characteristics before heading out with our hand lenses to test our new found knowledge in nearby woodland. We might have looked a bit odd as we studied the trees (very closely!) but we were fascinated by what we found once we started looking! It was soon time to go back inside so we gathered up our samples to view under a microscope. This allowed us to identify them more accurately and see the characteristics we talked about earlier. Lichen can be seen all year round and we are hoping to organise some lichen themed events at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve in the near future.

My brain had just about absorbed that knowledge and it was time for another course. This time on Sphagnum mosses with Keith Watson, organised by our friends at the Solway Wetlands Landscape Partnership. This was a taster day that was open to members of the public but very interesting and a great introduction. We looked at samples in the classroom with a hand lens and did our best to identify them using a key. 

Once we all felt fairly confident it was time to go outside and see what we’d really learnt! It was a very different experience trying to identify species when we were wandering around a wetland, what seemed like obvious differences in the warm classroom disappeared in real field conditions! We all did quite well (in my humble opinion!) and collected samples to study more closely in the classroom if we weren’t sure. 

Keith is leading a guided walk at our Discovery Day on the 27th June; I’d highly recommend coming along, booking isn’t required and it is sure to be a really interesting event.

This week I’ve been talking to partner organisations, working on interpretation for the site, and getting on with organising events that other people can enjoy! If you’d like to receive information on our events you can sign up to our newsletter here.