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.

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.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Back by the Nant Sere

Last August when we visited this woodland in Cwm Sere we could not access the Nant Sere stream or the meadows nearer it because of the dense bracken on the route we took so we returned early this year to have a further look.

The Meadow Thistles were small but delightfully furry and discretely barbed:
Meadow Thistle, Ysgallen y ddôl or Cirsium dissectum

We got the stream quite easily this time - through carpets of Bluebells and enjoyed lunch by it with this solitary Great Horsetail nearby:
Great Horsetail, Marchrawnen fawr or Equisetum telmateia and lunch

Bluebell, Clychau’r gog or Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Picture: Sue

We saw several good patches of Beech Fern
Beech Fern, Rhedynen gorniog or Phegopteris connectilis

The participants - quite a crowd for Brecknock Botany!
On the way in
and again
Pictures: Sue

On our way back we encountered a very tall Crab Apple
Crab Apple, Coeden afalau surion or Malus sylvestris

Out onto the common again...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Revisiting Buckland Hill

Our outing last week ended with this tree hug. Nearly 7m girth we decided for this pollarded Sweet Chestnut on an old boundary in the now-forested area of the hill we were re-visiting after a late October look last year.

It was a day for reminding ourselves about species distinctions that were rather hazy (in at least my mind) after the long winter and late spring.

Lunch near a patch of Slender Parsley-piert.

We saw:
Heath Milkwort, Amlaethai’r waun or Polygala serpyllifolia
Much of it pure white (a new experience for some in the group) or very light blue as above.

Spanish Bluebell, Clychau’r-gog Sbaenaidd or Hyacinthoides hispanica
- a white example.

And the area being much planted for wood not a total surprise to find a display of Douglas Fir cones and "flowers".
Douglas Fir, Ffynidwydden Douglas or Pseudotsuga menziesii

On the way back along a forest ride we saw these two Speedwells beside each other - set up for a compare and contrast session...
Heath Speedwell, Rhwyddlwyn meddygol or Veronica officinalis
Thyme-leaved Speedwell, Rhwyddlwyn dail teim or Veronica serpyllifolia

And getting back near the cars we found the magnificent Chestnut:
Sweet Chestnut, Castanwydden bêr or Castanea sativa

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Another encounter with Marsh Violet and other walks

It may be the right time of year but was certainly a surprise to me to find flowers of Marsh Violet for the second time in a week when we went up through woodland to get onto Carngafallt Nature Reserve near Elan. It was Sue who first suggested we were seeing leaves of this but I was unsure - having not encountered it in woodland before - but the flowers we then found in relative abundance higher up confirmed it. It isn't a species I expect to find in woodland so maybe I have been missing it in the past.
Marsh Violet, Fioled y gors or Viola palustris

There plenty else to record and admire in the wood (a 1970s arboretum planting that has gone wild and is now managed by the Woodland Trust) including this delicate plant firmly expected in woodland and even named to say so.
Wood Horsetail, Marchrawnen y coed or Equisetum sylvaticum

We reached the common for lunch and  started exploring there.

- encountering plenty of Bilberry
Bilberry, Llusen or Vaccinium myrtillus

and then in a very boggy area a variety of wet specialist plants including:
Hare's-tail Cottongrass, Plu’r gweunydd unben or Eriophorum vaginatum

Steph's eagle eyes found the minute threads of Cranberry and this picture is of a flower in bud held in her mitt.
Cranberry, Llygaeren or Vaccinium oxycoccos

The blanket bog was too deep and quaky to fully explore to its centre - and we were told by a farmer that he had lost a cow there.

This view is taken on our way down and shows the A470 following the Wye down from Rhayader.

Then I went with Hay U3A Geology group to Pwll y Wrach Nature Reserve where we had the geology trail very well explained by Wendy and also saw the Wild Service Trees there just coming into leaf.
Wild Service-tree, Cerddinen wyllt or Sorbus torminalis

The reserve was dryer than any of us can remeber ( a relief) and looking quite stunning.

Other plants encountered included:
Toothwort, Deintlys or Lathraea squamaria
Early-purple Orchid, Tegeirian coch y gwanwyn or Orchis mascula
These two pictures by Martin

And then I led a walk at the Talgarth Walking Festival around Llangorse lake and up onto Pen y Comin for a moderate climb to a superb view:

where the group took their lunch.