A Moss Close-up in the UK - Observation of the Week, 11/3/19

Our Observation of the Week is this shining hookeria moss, seen in the United Kingdom by @scrappapertiger!

Note: Sonny Hallett (@scrappapertiger) is an accomplished writer and blogger and the following is written by them. Nice work, Sonny! - Tony


I’ve always been very into nature, ever since I was a little kid. I’m very short-sighted, but my eyesight allows me to focus very clearly on tiny things - I have unusually good microscopic vision. Partly because of this, I’ve always been very drawn to tiny things in nature, like insects, fungi and tiny plants. There’s a world of magical weirdness, beauty and detail around us almost all the time, just on a scale most people tend not to notice. Insects take on endearing personalities in their movements, tiny fungi, lichens and miniature plants provide a unique and alien-looking landscape.

Nature is a big part of my life. Being an illustrator, I derive a lot of inspiration from the things I see around me when I'm outdoors. I am also autistic, and while living in the noise and stress of the city can be very stressful and anxiety-inducing for many people, I think it can be particularly hard on autistic folks. Nature has always been an escape for me: the zoology, identification and classification aspect appeals a lot to the way my brain works, because I like learning categories and understanding patterns, while the quiet focus and mindfulness of just observing things around me in minute detail, looking for tiny insects, mushrooms, how a moss grows, and so on, helps to keep me in the moment and calm my anxieties. Here's a comic I made about mindfulness and beetles: https://medium.com/@sonyahallett/mindfulness-and-beetles-8fd55a2388e8 I hope that by sharing my finds, experiences and interesting information with others, more people can become more interested in and care about the richness of life around them.

The shining hookeria was introduced to me by a friend, who lives in and knows a lot about the ecology of the Celtic rainforest in Wales. He took me on a tour of a stunning watery wall of bryophytes and ferns when I went to visit, including the rare Wilson's filmy fern. I'd never really looked at mosses and liverworts very much close-up before, and I was particularly taken by how the shining hookeria has such large translucent cells, where individual cells can be seen almost with the naked eye (certainly with my eyes!). I took the picture with a macro attachment clip on my phone, which with practice has been surprisingly effective for macro detail shots.

I add finds to iNaturalist when I go out exploring, partly because it gives me a personal record of what I've found, but I like the community aspect that folks can help with and give identifications. I loved that on a recent bioblitz down south we were able to collectively find and identify an invasive eucalyptus tortoise beetle, which hadn't been recorded in that area before, and the expertise available to help verify and record. I also like looking at what others are finding in my area, or areas I visit.


(this section by Tony Iwane)

- The iNat Community Forum discusses macro clip-on lenses for smartphones, as well as other cameras, in this thread.

- iNat user @damontighe wrote a how-to for macro clip-on lenses.

- Here are all Phylum Bryophyta observations on iNat, ranked by number of faves.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, November 04, 2019 01:29

Comments

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Thanks for this gorgeous photograph and the accompanying writing! I relate to much of what you've shared and I'm appreciative of your candor. One of my favorite things to do is get my face right into a patch of mosses and lichens and enjoy seeing the tiniest of things until something pulls me back to the human-scale world. I can't really tolerate cities anymore despite being raised in NYC but when I have to be in urban environments I usually find the nearest crack in the sidewalk or hole in a cinder block and check out the biodiversity going on. Keep 'em coming!

Posted by mira_l_b 13 days ago (Flag)
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I really enjoyed this, @scrappapertiger , thanks for sharing! And I'm blown away by the magnification and detail you've managed to achieve with a phone camera and macro attachment.

Have you heard the Celtic Rainforest episode of BBC Radio 4's The Living World? (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09wpnvg) Reading your written description of your nature observations took me to a similar mental place as does listening to that podcast.

Posted by shawnodonnell 13 days ago (Flag)
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Great post! Thank you!

Posted by milliebasden 13 days ago (Flag)
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Lovely photo. I love moss, and this is so beautiful. Nice.

Posted by rozzychan 12 days ago (Flag)

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