Saturday, April 22, 2017

Through some trees and along a river

I finally got out on a little local excursion I'd meant to do since early April on Tuesday - to explore some inviting and criss-crossing footpaths not far from Hay with the promise of spring woodland.

It was well worth the effort - despite some paths not exactly conforming to the latest OS maps - but there were more rather than less so it was good to explore them. There was plenty of early woodland interest including rather few bluebells:
Bluebell, Clychau’r gog or Hyacinthoides non-scripta
a ford to negotiate,
 and the Brecknock county flower well in evidence already:
Cuckooflower, Lady's Smock, Blodyn llefrith or Cardamine pratensis
plus some great views.
(Thanks to Liz for the pictures)

Then on Thursday, Sue and I set off up the Cilieni river into restricted territory (with permission I must add).

This river arises on the Epynt and is consequently unspoilt. A warden we met told us it is good for Crayfish but we didn't see any in the very clear water. We hope to go again later in the year but there was already plenty to record:

Almost the first flower we saw was Water Avens
Water Avens, Mapgoll glan y dŵr or Geum rivale
- maybe with a touch of Wood Avens in the genetic mix for this one.

Goat Willow was flowering:

Goat Willow, Helygen ddeilgron or Salix caprea

And rather unexpectedly we found a patch of Butterbur fully in the flowing river:
Butterbur, Alan mawr or Petasites hybridus

At least that was our pretty-sure identification (aided by Sue's binoculars) after initially assuming it was Colt's-foot.

There was Lesser Pond-sedge in the ditches near the river:
Lesser Pond-sedge, Hesgen-y-dŵr fach or Carex acutiformis

The ditches were alongside the raised road by the river which started life in the 1860s as a railway embankment for the Sennybridge to Llangammarch Wells railway which never saw active service. Histories talk of a few earthworks remaining - in fact we saw them all the way up the Cilieni to not far from the source. (Shown clearly on the 1886 OS map.)

Stunted and lichen festooned Wild Plum (?) trees made an interesting display:
Wild Plum, Coeden eirin gwyllt or Prunus domestica (probably)

And Wood-sorrel was everywhere
Wood-sorrel, Suran y coed or Oxalis acetosella

Getting up to nearer the source we started to find more specialised plants not all of which I photographed (many at a very early stage) but we were delighted to come across a Marsh Violet flower:
Marsh Violet, Fioled y gors or Viola palustris

And Primroses adorned the banks up there:
Primrose, Briallen or Primula vulgaris

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Getting going

We went out as a botanical group for only the second time this year last week but first a quick catch up on some observations in between.

A reconnoitre for the Talgarth walking festival took us around Llangorse lake and up onto higher ground nearby. Not much to see botanically but this small enclosed field with snowdrops was right near the lake.
Snowdrop, Eirlys or Galanthus nivalis

And towards then end of our exploration, as we approached the common north of the lake, we saw this very wet field with more herons than I am used to seeing.

A few weeks ago Tim Rich stopped near Storey Arms on his way to a BSBI meeting in Brecon to record these daffodils in a gully above the road - certainly not native but quite far from the nearest garden as well!
Head-to-head Daffodil, Narcissus x cyclazetta or Narcissus tazetta x cyclamineus 

Tim gave us a practical session on the Whitlow-grasses in the car park near the BBNP offices over lunch and pointed out this "good specimen" of the common species. I have already featured the closely related Glabrous Whitlowgrass, Llysiau’r-bystwn llyfn or Erophila glabrescens that grows there in this blog.
Common Whitlowgrass, Llysiau’r-bystwn ar or Erophila verna sens. str.

Last week's recording day was also a reconnoitre - for Biodiversity week in June when Brecknock Wildlife Trust will have a variety of events including botanical walks near Llangattock.

We found plenty to record though even in late March and enjoyed seeing these introduced but thriving flowers in Llangattock churchyard.
Fritillary, Britheg or Fritillaria meleagris

Growing nearby was our county flower - making itself known along our verges now.
Cuckooflower or Lady's Smock, Blodyn llefrith or Cardamine pratensis

Taking the pictures...

And the canal featured a show of yellow.
Marsh-marigold, Gold y gors or Caltha palustris

Recording on the canal bank.

Above Dardy we saw a lot of this - not the woodland native but a garden escape that seems to flower less than the native subspecies while having showier leaves.
Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. argentatum
- closely related to Yellow Archangel, Marddanhadlen felen or Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. montanum that grows in our woodlands.

There were good displays of Wood anemones.
Wood Anemone, Blodyn y gwynt or Anemone nemorosa

And a rather Tolkienesque tree.

And Steph found a rather large bug.

On our return we ended up at some canal works - passing a do not enter sign the wrong way as we returned to Llangattock!

Thanks to Sue for several of the pictures and to Tim for the Daffodil picture.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

New Year Plant Hunt

Six of us set out on a very cold but sunny morning at Ystradgynlais - one of the farthest corners of Brecknock.
Gary, Heather, Arlene, Chris and Steph on the old railway path at Ystradgynlais

We walked just over 3 miles around the town and the old mining area. As usual most finds were in the built up parts but our excursion  along the old railway line through the reclaimed pit area (and BWT Nature Reserves) rewarded us with male and female Hazel flowers / catkins and Barren Strawberry in full - if rather green - flower. Many of the casuals in town were hardly open but I adopted a rule of "count it if a petal can be seen"! Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was a patch of flowering Dog's Mercury. I didn't use the App in the end as gloves were essential so conventional recording with a card was employed. For similar reasons I got my camera out very little!

The rather sorry Red Clover we found.
Red Clover, Meillionen goch or Trifolium pratense

Here is the list we got - 23 which is a good number for Brecknock at this time of year.

Annual Meadow-grass         Poa annua
Barren Strawberry           Potentilla sterilis
Common Chickweed            Stellaria media
Common Mouse-ear            Cerastium fontanum
Daisy                       Bellis perennis
Dandelion                   Taraxacum agg.
Dog's Mercury               Mercurialis perennis
Gorse                       Ulex europaeus
Groundsel                   Senecio vulgaris
Hazel                       Corylus avellana
Himalayan Honeysuckle       Leycesteria formosa
Ivy                         Hedera helix sens. lat.
Lesser Celandine            Ficaria verna
Petty Spurge                Euphorbia peplus
Pineappleweed               Matricaria discoidea
Procumbent Pearlwort        Sagina procumbens
Red Clover                  Trifolium pratense
Shepherd's-purse            Capsella bursa-pastoris
Sweet Alison                Lobularia maritima
Wall Speedwell              Veronica arvensis
Wavy Bitter-cress           Cardamine flexuosa
Wood Avens                  Geum urbanum
Yellow Crocus               Crocus x luteus

It turns out that the Himalayan Honeysuckle, Leycesteria formosa may be a first record for the 10km square (SN70). We saw it twice and it would seem to be well established in the wild around the old mining areas.

(The crocus was well established in a small green but almost certainly planted at some time.)

There were plenty of fungi to see including this, found by Chris Jones from Brecknock Wildlife Trust who told us about many of the fungi we saw:
Scarlet Elfcup or Sarcoscypha austriaca

Monday, November 14, 2016

Not just botany but studying miners

Last week the botany group joined Norman Lowe who was looking for leaf miners near Talybont Reservoir. We got a good list of botanical records (including at least one we would probably have missed if out on a solely botanical walk) and we also learnt a lot about leaf miners and their identification.

There were several that feed off Hazel leaves including these two which are, I believe, (the mines of) Stigmella floslactella and Phyllonorycter coryli
Here "we" are examining mined leaves:

Here are two more we saw and had identified for us:
Stigmella anomalella on a Rose leaf. The yellow grub is clearly visible in this case (an ID feature).

Stigmella assimilella on Aspen, Populus tremula  leaf. 

This last is the one we might have missed the host for. It was Norman who spotted the mined leaf below a large tree. This is only the fifth record for the county I think he said.

Thanks to Steph for the pictures. I was too cold / busy with my plant card to get my camera out of the bag!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Sheep, fungi and fossils (with a tiny bit of botany)

I forgot to include this picture of the new Soay sheep at Henallt Common in the last post. They introduced themselves to me when I was photographing the berries. Hopefully they will increase in number and get the common under control in the coming years...

We did find Fly Agarics when out doing some late recording on Buckland Hill where we found, but didn't photograph, one Common Centaury plant in flower, some dead but recognisable Red Bartsia and several other species well worth recording especially on the rocky outcrops there.
Fly Agaric or Amanita muscaria on Buckland Hill

Earlier I joined James Cresswell for a Geologically themed walk in the Taf Fechan valley at Merthyr Tydfil and photographed these anthills in the large quarry there:

We did see these Great Horsetails on a landslip along the valley:
Great Horsetail, Marchrawnen fawr or Equisetum telmateia

Dog Lichen or Peltigera spp.

It was hard to remember at times how close we were (for the entire walk) to busy roads and Merthyr town as we walked the secluded valley. There were only occasional glimpses of the trappings of civilisation high above us on the valley edge.
The Taf Fechan
We encountered fossil coral:

and an abundance of Maidenhair Spleenwort behind the derelict Cyrfartha Ironworks furnaces:
Maidenhair Spleenwort, Duegredynen gwallt y forwyn or Asplenium trichomanes

This is an under-appreciated gem in Merthyr:
The Pont-y-Cafnau (English: Bridge of Troughs), sometimes written Pont y Cafnau or Pontycafnau, is a 14.2-metre (47 ft) long iron truss bridge over the River Taff in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. The bridge was designed by Watkin George and built in 1793 for his employer, the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, to support both a tramway and an aqueduct to carry limestone and water into the works. A Grade II* listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument, the Pont-y-Cafnau is the world's earliest surviving iron railway bridge.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Common plants, Berries and Pools

Passing a field by the A40 nearing Sennybridge I noticed a field with a spectacular (from the road) display of a white flower. I couldn't think what is might be but about a week later had time to investigate.

The field was planted with Turnips (or similar) and turned out to have a footpath through it but the intensity of the white flowers was already waning by the time I got round to investigating. I had to get nearer than the road before the penny dropped - Yarrow!
Yarrow, Milddail or Achillea millefolium

But it was good to realise how a good stand of this can be quite stunning. Better botanists I know could have identified it from the road (at speed)...
Some of the Yarrow in the field

But it turned out to make a good circular walk through varying habitats as I continued on the path to loop back to the car by a different route - and a definite route for recording next summer as the route passes through four 1km squares all in the same tetrad (a bit for a first for awkward Brecknock) in an area not recently recorded.

Next I went to Henallt Common in search mainly for the Fly Agaric I have been told can be abundant there. It was too early for them but there was an abundance of berries on several different trees and shrubs - a cold winter due? How could they tell?
Holly, Celynnen or Ilex aquifolium
Hawthorn, Draenen wen or Crataegus monogyna
Rowan, Criafolen or Sorbus aucuparia
...Somewhat past its best the last one.

Then two of us set out on a cold day to search for Pillwort in pools on Llandefalle Common. We didn't find any but there was lots of other interest and we found this which I hadn't seen for a while in a rather dried up pool:
Marsh Speedwell, Rhwyddlwyn culddail y gors or Veronica scutellata

This pool was the most water-filled but still had no Pillwort. It is abundant in a pool not far away at all on Brechfa Common.

And here is some Pillwort I photographed (much) earlier:
Pillwort, Pelenllys gronynnog or Pilularia globulifera

You can tell it's a fern from the way the fronds unfurl...