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Saturday, July 22, 2017

The A40 and the Byddwn

We got 170 records for the 1km square we explored on Thursday - which did include The Byddwn BWT Nature Reserve and the A40.

By the A40 where we started was Restharrow (I did say in last blog that we must keep an eye out for it!) and later on our return Heather spotted a tiny plant by the side of the road which turned out to be a new record for the county.
Narrow-leaved Pepperwort, Pupurlys culddail or Lepidium ruderale

The Byddwn is a small reserve and you walk along the old railway track to get to it. We saw a wide range of species, the Early Purple Orchids and Cowslips being over of course, but we enjoyed:
Zigzag Clover, Meillionen igam-ogam or Trifolium medium
Wild Basil, Brenhinllys gwyllt or Clinopodium vulgare
Hawkweed Oxtongue, Tafod y llew or Picris hieracioides

There was a Common Blue resting as we got back near to our start point:

and we were asked to identify a plant that had appeared in the garden of the farm we parked at that turned out to be:
Weld, Melengu or Reseda luteola
A little way from its usual habitats but no doubt another hitchhiker on the A40 like the Narrow-leaved Pepperwort and Restharrow...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Close to home

Ray Woods told me that he had seen Common Rest-harrow near Hay Old Castle earlier in the year but I waited for its flowering time to go and see (well that's my excuse). (All of a 300 metre walk!)

Common Restharrow, Tagaradr or Ononis repens

It's even visible from the path down from the road to the old railway / tram paths but the prettier flowers shown are higher up the bank.

The BSBI Map for it's distribution shows a marked reluctance for the species to cross into Brecknock (although there are some older records) but I note it has been seen more recently in Radnorshire - we must keep our eyes out for it.

There was also one plant of:
Burnet-saxifrage, Gwreiddiriog or Pimpinella saxifraga

and plenty more to record of grassland plants.

Wet limestone

We managed to find the place in Brecknock that had rain all day and surprisingly low temperatures last Saturday but nonetheless it was rewarding on south Brecknock limestone.

One species we don't often see was only just opening its flowers so I took a small sample home to check and photographed the flower next day:
Knotted Pearlwort, Corwlyddyn clymog or Sagina nodosa

And another test for my ID skills was:
Limestone Bedstraw, Briwydd y calch or Galium sterneri

There were several Nodding or Musk Thistles including this barely opened one looking very pretty
Musk Thistle, Ysgallen bendrom or Carduus nutans

And a white patch of Thyme had us intially stumped:
Wild Thyme, Teim gwyllt or Thymus polytrichus

Carline Thistles were everywhere.
Carline Thistle, Ysgallen Siarl or Carlina vulgaris

The grazed common was quite superior with abundant Heather and Ling
Cross-leaved Heath, Grug croesddail or Erica tetralix



Thanks to Sue for most of the pictures.

Friday, July 14, 2017

I am going to have to think of a new title for "catch up"

It's a month since I posted and lots of botany has been done so here are the highlights:

Directly after the last posting we went to West Cork where the
New Zealand Holly, Llwyn-llygad-y-dydd celynnog or Olearia macrodonta

was even more abundant around Bantry than I ever remember. It likes the climate there but is, of course, an alien - and special for being a woody shrub in the Daisy Family.

Another highlight was finding one of the many Tree Ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) at Dereen gardens had Filmy Ferns on its trunk:
Wilson's Filmy-fern, Rhedynach teneuwe Wilson or Hymenophyllum wilsonii

The Navelwort was also having a good year there:
Navelwort, Deilen gron or Umbilicus rupestris

Back to Brecon and I was next at one of our very few sites for Wood Crane's-bill, finding several plants in the company of Jonathan from NRW but a little late for the flowers.
Wood Crane's-bill, Pig-yr-aran y coed or Geranium sylvaticum


This is very like the Meadow Crane's-bill currently adorning our road verges through much of the county but with a more purplish-pink coloured flower and is rare in South Wales.. The pair of species are one of the few where the serious books actually mention flower colour as a significant difference. 

Then a few of our group visited some private, RSPB-owned, meadows near Elan where we were treated to a feast of Greater Butterfly Orchids, Wood Bitter-vetch and many other choice meadow plants.
Great Burnet, Bwrned mawr or Sanguisorba officinalis near Elan

 Greater Butterfly-orchid, or Platanthera chlorantha in one of the meadows


We found
Bell Heather, Grug y mêl or Erica cinerea
near the roadside there.

More meadows were enjoyed by all at Bertlywydd farm near Ystradfellte at an open day after that with again Greater Butterfly Orchids in the delightful mix.
Berthlywydd Meadows

One of our group (Joan) made a discovery while walking between her National Plant Monitoring Scheme plots - a new site for
Sand Spurrey, Troellig arfor coch or Spergularia rubra
This adds a site for the Rare Plant Register.

Then I was off to London visiting family and brushing up on my botany identification in the Surrey chalk grasslands.
Greater Yellow-rattle, Cribell felen fawr or Rhinanthus angustifolius
and distinguishing between:
Field Scabious, Clafrllys y maes or Knautia arvensis
and
Small Scabious, Clafrllys bach or Scabiosa columbaria
(Size isn't much of a steer despite the names.)

When I got back, Chris at BWT Ystradgynlais had found a
Broad-leaved Helleborine, Y galdrist lydanddail or Epipactis helleborine
near the cycle path there.

And at Llangorse (for the Wetlands Trust Water Plant identification day) one of our number spotted a rarity for Brecknock
Hoary Plantain, Llyriad llwyd or Plantago media
right by the lake shore.

There was plenty else to see including
Lesser Bulrush, Cynffon-y-gath gulddail or Typha angustifolia

and
Hoary Willowherb, Helyglys lledlwyd or Epilobium parviflorum


and I cannot omit a picture of the
Fringed Water-lily, Lili’r-dŵr eddïog or Nymphoides peltata

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Another catch up with a surprise find

Since I last wrote...

A great day out with NRW and Welsh Water around the Grwyne Fawr Reservior to see the bog restoration work they are jointly doing there.

And we found some Cowberry in flower (not the surprise find though):
Cowberry, Llusen goch or Vaccinium vitis-idaea

And on a four 1km square recording walk we saw plenty of interesting plants including:
Leopard's-bane, Llysiau’r llewpart or Doronicum pardalianches


Not the surprise either - although it isn't that common in Brecknock. A garden escape that gets established, as here, in a hedge near Sennybridge.

and
Marsh Speedwell, Rhwyddlwyn culddail y gors or Veronica scutellata

Included because I don't think I have encountered this in Brecknock before - which is surprising and probably indicates I have missed it previously!

The BWT Biodiversity week events at Llangattock were a great success with many species recorded both for botany and also for other wildlife. We found a wide variety of plants including this in a neglected field with a past.
Weld, Melengu or Reseda luteola

But nobody was expecting to find this, known up to now in only three sites in Brecknock, right in the middle of a green track between two hedges quite near the village. (This is the surprise.)
Dwarf Elder, Danewort, Ysgawen Fair, or Sambucus ebulus


Mike Porter is checking his information about very old county records as he thinks there was a report from the 1700s of this plant "near Llangattock".

This picture is from another Brecknock site from an earlier year to show the flowers.

The name "Danewort" is preferable in my view - "Dwarf Elder" doesn't really fit such a vigorous plant. It is herbaceous unlike its cousin, Common Elder, but not really "dwarf".

According to Wikipedia (!):
"The name Danewort comes from the belief that it only grows on the sites of battles that involved the Danes. ... The plant's stems and leaves turn red in autumn and this may explain the link with blood."

And then, just before I went away for the break I am currently enjoying:

A great day out in Cwm Giedd near Ystradgynlais in the company of Chris and Sarah from the BWT office there.
Chris had yet to see Sundew in the wild so the high common duly obliged (in abundance):
Round-leaved Sundew, Gwlithlys or Drosera rotundifolia

Heath Bedstraw, Briwydd wen or Galium saxatile
(The opposite of a surprise but worth featuring.)

Mimulus or Monkeyflower, probably a hybrid of garden origin but far from any garden



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Out on the Western Fringes and Other Places

It's a quick digest with mainly pictures again!

One theme though is our repeated encounters with flowers that seem to be relishing this spring.


Just in the Range

We ventured into the SENTA range again (always with permission) but for operational reasons had to cancel our intended wet meadow and substituted a deep stream gorge. It was very productive botanically and it made our shortest walk for some time. Several hours of effort clocked up less reported activity on my Smartphone than a walk to the shops in Hay, This wasn't true...
Water Avens, Mapgoll glan y dŵr or Geum rivale

Thyme-leaved Speedwell, Rhwyddlwyn dail teim or Veronica serpyllifolia

Henallt Common

An early visit to fill the list of this botanically rich gem just above Hay.
Hairy Lady's-mantle, or Alchemilla filicaulis subsp. vestita

The displays of Sanicle were enchanting

Sanicle, Clust yr arth or Sanicula europaea

Pont ar Wysg

A long walk right on the border with Carmarthenshire just south of the Usk Reservoir.
Colt's-foot, Carn yr ebol or Tussilago farfara

Barbara told is these are static "houses" for a type of Caddisfly - abundant in the Nant Tarw

An old sheepfold that furnished one fern record to add to the list.

And on the journey back great Bluebell displays.
Bluebell, Clychau’r gog or Hyacinthoides non-scripta

More pictures from Sue and Paula of the day



Round-leaved Sundew, Gwlithlys or Drosera rotundifolia

Water-milfoil and Fool's water-cress in the Tarw
The only tree we recorded in one of the 1km squares (a Hawthorn)



And Marsh Violet on the way back to the car - another flower we have been seeing practically every outing this spring.