Challenging Habitat Blog

Damp ferns glistening.

I very much enjoyed the 12 weeks of near- uninterrupted sunshine in Cornwall. It made lockdown bearable.

But soils dried and despite watering, some of the new woodland trees, planted for my carbon footprint offset, failed.

Finally, sustained summer rain that will make a difference to vegetation.

Not only that: drops glitter like pretty gems on leaves…

…and fungi emerged from woodland soils overnight where I walked just yesterday on dry ground.

Water is life!

Back on Dartmoor!

The expanse of valleys and tors, a distant glimmer of the sea.

What a treat!

An ancient stand of oak amidst boulders, moss and lichen.

The call of a cockoo.

Swathes, no, ‘fields’ of cotton grass like I’ve never seen before.

A sheep-free zone and freedom for my dog.

Crossing a water course, getting soaked knee-deep.

A good workout climbing out of the valley.

Buffeted by a sharp wind on top of tors. Time to put on a woolly hat!


Evocative names on the map: Devil’s Tor, Foxholes, Tinner’s Hut, Beardown Tor, Crow Tor…

Torrents cascading over large rocks in a beechwood valley.

Uplifting. Restorative. Magic.

Moss, giddy with drink, after another night of rain.

Weeks and weeks of dry weather had desiccated its fronds, stifled growth, dulled appearance.

Delightful is a closer look: glossy fresh greens and great diversity of shapes and sizes among other epiphytes on trees, boulders and walls.



Encrusting and branching lichens on granite on the Cornish coast. Photo C Braungardt 2009

If epiphytes were people, we would call them clever strategists. I guess this holds true for any organism that manages to occupy a hostile corner, but I am fascinated by life forms that grow on toxic substrates. In this context, epiphytes (or air plants) are the pioneers that prepare the terrain for the arrival of other organisms.
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