Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mainly Geology

My only outing last week was actually one with Hay U3A Geology Group. But we were at Craig y Cilau so there was plenty of botany to see and I even made a few records.

One such record was for this:
Autumn Gentian, Crwynllys yr hydref or Gentianella amarella

Just where we stopped to look at a this geological feature way below us:
Eroded glacial till at Craig y Cilau

The gentian would certainly be expected there - on the tramway in limestone rich grassland below the cliffs - but hasn't actually been officially recorded recently so it was useful to confirm its presence.

Senior Reserve manager, Jon, told me that it "is actually fairly widespread on the limestone but rarely (easily) visible if there are a lot of sheep about - for obvious reasons.  It appears to be more common than was previously thought, largely due to a decrease in sheep numbers over the last few years."

It also occurs at this time of year at Allt Rhongyr BWT reserve and on Gilwern Hill - always on our Limestone band.

We also saw:
Dwarf Thistle, Ysgallen ddigoes or Cirsium acaule

Fairy Flax, Llin y tylwyth teg or Linum catharticum

And plenty more that I didn't photograph. This picture was taken a while back but from roughly where we saw the Autumn Gentian:

Friday, August 12, 2016

Revisiting the backup plan

One of the excursions for the recent AGM Meeting involved scaling Cribyn and Pen y Fan and, given the weather history of the Brecon Beacons, there needed to be a backup plan for this one. In the event the day was glorious and many interesting species were seen at around 800m altitude on the steep cliffs.

So yesterday the botany group went to see the backup: meadows within woodland on the banks of the Nant Sere lower down the valley - the Sere rises on Pen y Fan.

We spent a lot of the time in a clearing which obviously is often very wet indeed. Yesterday it was still very damp but the tussocks were more of an impediment to progress than the water.

The highlight was probably a good population of:
Meadow Thistle, Ysgallen y ddôl or Cirsium dissectum

What we first spotted was these distinctive seed heads but when we go to the area there were plenty of the flowers as well as shown above.

There were few places suitable for lunch but we found one.

Sneezewort, Ystrewlys or Achillea ptarmica

Thanks to Sue for most of the pictures - only the one with her in it and the flower head of Meadow Thistle are mine.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

BSBI Welsh AGM part 2

A few more pictures have come in from the Field excursions in the mid-July BSBI get together in Brecon.

First Stanner Rocks

Where the Spiked Speedwell was magnificent. 
Spiked Speedwell, Rhwyddlwyn pigfain or Veronica spicata

And a real rarity - only found at Stanner in the UK
Perennial Knawel, Dinodd parhaol Maesyfed or Scleranthus perennis subsp. perennis

Cwm Cadlan - updated (thanks Stephen)

Andy Jones addressing the key features of Juncus x kernreichgeltii

Broad-leaved Cottongrass, Plu’r gweunydd llydanddail or Eriophorum latifolium (the less common one - habitat)
Where Marsh Helleborines were abundant
Marsh Helleborine, Caldrist y gors or Epipactis palustris

Next, the intrepid exploration of the cliffs below Cribyn and Pen y Fan
The way up

On the cliffs

Some of the special plants found up on the north slopes of the Fans
Spring Sandwort or Minuartia verna

Roseroot, Pren y ddannoedd or Sedum rosea

Sea Campion or Silene uniflora (a long way from the sea!)

And the recently named Hieracium attenboroughianum, Attenborough's Hawkweed being shown by it's discoverer, Tim Rich:

On the way down
Wilson's Filmy-fern, Rhedynach teneuwe Wilson or Hymenophyllum wilsonii

And the idyllic and remote Cwm Sere to explore on the way back.

Thanks go to all those who sent me pictures - Julian, Andy, Stephen, Emily and Polly

Plantains and Mallow - and more

I start with the Plantago coronopus that recently found its way into the county. These pictures are taken of my plant which I grew on from a small identification sample. It's fascinating to see how Plantains (at least this one) behave.

The flowers are not, as we all know, very showy most of the time - apart from when you happen upon Common Plantains that have anthers deployed.

My Buck's-horn in captivity suddenly put out these long styles a fortnight ago - ready to receive pollen.
Buck's-horn Plantain, Llyriad corn carw or Plantago coronopus

Then almost exactly a week later the anthers appeared. This will be a mechanism to encourage cross-pollination - the styles have a whole week to receive pollen from other plants that might be a little ahead.

I went back to a previously botanised area near Tretower to check on some plants I wasn't quite sure of the exact identification of in May and also found several we hadn't seen then like this Figwort:
Water Figwort, Gwrnerth y dŵr or Scrophularia auriculata

There was as great show of Marsh Woundwort in the area near the watercourses as well - we had seen leaves in May we thought were Stachys but hadn't been sure which one. In the event both this and Hedge Woundwort were evident in the area.
Marsh Woundwort, Briwlys y gors or Stachys palustris

And I called in to photograph a plant first found by my colleague, Mike, several year's ago - still there by Cwmdu wall and we don't have many records for it.
Dwarf Mallow, Corhocysen or Malva neglecta
Maybe there is a clue in the Latin name - "neglecta" certainly suggests a plant that gets overlooked.

And finally to Allt Rhongyr for some recording in the vicinity and then to help with a survey to assess the condition of the reserve helped by volunteers. We did one transect and recorded the species present in two fixed quadrats. My impression was that the reserve is coming on nicely and we certainly found plenty of good indicator species in the transect quadrats and few of the more negative ones.
Working on a fixed quadrat on the limestone.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Not the Welsh AGM!

Although the BSBI Welsh AGM (see blog post) has dominated my thinking up to mid July, the botany group have found time for other activities.

With one of my children now living near Caterham we found ourselves on Farthing Downs on a rather wet day in June but I couldn't resist photographing locally abundant (but nationally rare) Greater Yellow-rattle. There is a lot more to be seen in the area when I have time...
Greater Yellow-rattle, Cribell felen fawr or Rhinanthus angustifolius

Also in June, the botany group did some exploration high above the Nant Irfon on Abergwesn Common (National Trust land) where we enjoyed wonderful views and also made a good set of records in this relatively unexplored area.

Galium saxatile and Veronica officinale. Heath Speedwell and Heath Bedstraw making a nice show on Abergwesyn Common

In the recent hot weather we went to Craig y Nos for a relatively cool woodland walk where I took the opportunity to photograph a "Brecon" Meadow Crane's-bill in the meadows there:
Meadow Crane's-bill, Pig-yr-aran y weirglodd or Geranium pratense

And we also escaped the heat by going to the Black Mountain Quarry area. This is over in neighbouring Carmarthenshire but I had always wanted to see this "other side" of our big hill in the south west of the county.

Thyme was abundant in the grass.
Wild Thyme, Teim gwyllt or Thymus polytrichus

And here is a picture of the flowers of "Motherwort" - not really wild but then the owner of the garden didn't plant / sow it either. Seen near Hay up on the Black Mountains.
Motherwort, Mamlys or Leonurus cardiaca

And recently we did a survey on some Woodland Trust meadows near Sarnau just north of Brecon, finding a rich variety of species and learning our botany as we went from one sampling site to the next. (We did 70 quadrats in all in the day.)

Lunch between doing field 1 and field 2.

And exploring Craig y Cilau for a suitable route for a forthcoming U3A Geology group trip we found this excellent example of eroded Glacial Till just where it was marked on the Geological map. Unfortunately the paths to go this way were not suitable for the meeting itself.

Most recently I joined Phil Sutton of Brecknock Wildlife Trust surveying the Cae Eglwys Reserve (near the Woodland Trust site above as it happens). This reserve is coming on well and results showed a good improvement in the "right" species. I didn't take photographs that day but photographed this Fleabane there a few years back:
Common Fleabane, Cedowydd or Pulicaria dysenterica

Phil photographed this Marsh Orchid there earlier in the year: