Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A lot of botany for the time of year

So a bit of a pictorial summary...

The hottest day of the year so far saw myself and Paul, the BSBI Welsh Officer having a very pleasant walk near Abergwesyn. It was not a botanically rich landscape at all but, with Paul to spot things I wouldn't dream of naming with certainty, we managed a list of 104 records.

We got to 494m at Pen Carreg-dan.

The view

And on the way back Cae Pwll y Bo Reserve was looking all tidy and trim ready for splendid Globeflower display (I am sure) later (soon) this year.

Then yesterday the group went to The Byddwn Reserve for a morning recording the early plants there and around. Right by the gate was this unusual Primrose.
Primrose, Briallen Fair or Primula vulgaris forma caulescens

The Celandines were abundant in the reserve (as well as road verges all about the county).
Lesser Celandine, Llygad Ebrill or Ficaria verna (Ranunculus ficaria)

And Cowslips at their best.
Cowslip, Briallen Fair or Primula veris

In the afternoon we called in a Llangorse to re-find the Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage previously recorded there. My hunch where to look was right (again!) and we saw it within a few metres of stepping off the path into this wet woodland by the shore of the lake.

This may be my best picture yet of the two side-by-side. Opposite-leaved on the left.

And I finish off with an Artichoke Gall from the Byddwn.
Yellow Gall Midge, Artichoke Gall (Yew) or Taxomyia taxi (I think!)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Setting a Challenge

Last week's outing was notable for finding Alternate-leaved Golden-saxifrage at a site not recorded for some time and this prompted me to set a challenge for members of our botany group to re-find it at sites in the six 10 km squares in Brecknock that so far have no 21st Century records for the plant.

But one of those squares being my home one, and the site where last seen (in 1982) only a short distance from home, I soon realised I had better take up my own challenge.

And I was successful... It was still in the 1km square recorded in 1982 and my hunch where to look paid off. A stream crossing the Offa's Dyke path did indeed have a population within sight of the path.

Alternate-leaved Golden-saxifrage, Eglyn bob yn eilddail or Chrysosplenium alternifolium

Of course this species is much easier to find while flowering and also I had my eye in from last week!

Five 10 km squares to go now!

And what was this just emerging on the way back?
White Bryony, Bloneg y ddaear or Bryonia dioica

Friday, April 13, 2018

Walked straight into it

Sessile Oak, Derwen mes di-goes or Quercus petraea

I was anticipating some laborious searching but, for once, we found the target species right on our path as soon as we entered the "zone of expectation".

The reasons to explore this area on the Dulas Brook near Felin Fach were:
  1. to re-find the Alternate-leaved Golden-saxifrage last recorded there in 1999 and
  2. that it is an area of geological interest with samples held in Cardiff Museum of an unsuccessful mining operation near there.
Most of my searches for this species involve a lot of peering at stream edges and seeing an awful lot of the commoner Opposite-leaved species before, if I am lucky, finding one small patch of the quarry. In this case, although we did see Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage first as we came down the steep path to the stream, no sooner were we at the water's edge than I nearly trod on a patch of the one we were looking for.
Alternate-leaved Golden-saxifrage, Eglyn bob yn eilddail or Chrysosplenium alternifolium
Both the Golden-saxifrages are in this picture - they seem to grow happily together without forming a hybrid.

Crouching down to photograph soon led to discussion about other leaves we were seeing and soon flowering Moschatel was found near a tree base. The search for this and other things in the whole area soon revealed that Alternate-leaved ... was actually quite abundant in the whole area.
Moschatel, Mwsglys or Adoxa moschatellina

So we ended up with a good list for the time of year - bolstered by the casuals and neophytes adorning Maes y Berllan Chapel Graveyard.

Other species we photographed:
Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage, Eglyn cyferbynddail or Chrysosplenium oppositifolium

Common Bistort, Llysiau’r neidr or Persicaria bistorta

Dog's Mercury, Bresychen y cŵn or Mercurialis perennis

Wood Anemone, Blodyn y gwynt or Anemone nemorosa

We were helped on our way by a local lady who lived near the Chapel and told us about some early Purple Orchids growing on the verge nearby.
Early-purple Orchid, Tegeirian coch y gwanwyn or Orchis mascula

She told us to aim for the Oak pictured at the head of this blog to find the path - at the time it was dimly visible in the morning mist!

Other delights included many lichens (and knowledgeable company about them), tree-creeper, woodpecker, nuthatch and several interesting fungi including:
Witches' Butter or Exidia glandulosa

And the weather was kinder than expected..

Friday, March 30, 2018

Cold, Wet and Snowy but Worth It

Even though we failed to find any Hutchinsia our visit to the Llangattock Escarpment and Craig y Cilau Reserve yesterday was well worth it.

What we didn't find:
Hutchinsia, Beryn y graig or Hornungia petraea

This was known as Hutchinsia petraea but, unusually, has been given a "Common Name" to preserve the older Latin species designation which honours the first Irish woman botanist. Of course it isn't really a common name and it's not a very common plant.

And difficult to spot - thank goodness the intrepid bryophyte hunters of South Wales have recorded it for me - but I do want to see it in Brecknock for myself one day...

What we did find:
Rue-leaved Saxifrage, Tormaen tribys or Saxifraga tridactylites
(Photo Anne Griffiths)

I had in fact seen this further west in the reserve in 2014 so we have now confirmed it for three monads in the area as we saw it in two squares yesterday. I'm slightly surprised to be the first recorder for this since my colleague, Mike, recorded it there in 1998!

Colt's-foot, Carn yr ebol or Tussilago farfara
Just coming into flower near Eglwys Faen.

And above the cave entrance we found Mistletoe which I thought rather remarkable but it was only on checking the BSBI database on return that I found this is a first record for the reserve and may be the highest altitude at which this plant has yet been recorded in the UK.

Mistletoe, Uchelwydd or Viscum album on Hawthorn
 at about 380m altitude
By the time we returned to our cars it was snowing...

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Almost Adlestrop

There was a station and nothing much happened but at least we raised the count of plant species in and around Llanwrtyd Wells since the year 2000 from 4 to 77 on a colder than expected day this week.

It had occurred to me that the Crickhowell New Year Plant Hunt this year demonstrated that botanising at this time of year can yield significant and useful results, So why not make a start in the Llanwrtyd Wells area with the town itself in the same way (except for not caring if the plants were in flower).

No pictures were taken - despite taking our cameras around the whole route and nothing startling was found but several species probably won't be seen later in the year when we visit areas around the town to make more records. We were basically very cold!

But Andy was able to show us where one of the plants that has been recorded since 2000 might be seen later in the year, right by the main bridge in town.

Hieracium subminutidens, Llanwrtyd Hawkweed  grows only in this area of the Irfon Valley - to quote from Tim Rich's Paper in Watsonia:

"Hieracium subminutidens (Zahn) Pugsley (Asteraceae), Llanwrytyd Hawkweed, is a rare Welsh endemic, known from the River Irfon catchment at Llanwrytyd and Abergwesyn..."

This complex genus is best left to the real experts like Tim but it is good to know about them and see them when you have been told what you are seeing!

The other records since 2000 for the area are also for Hawkweeds:

Hieracium sabaudum , Autumn Hawkweed by Hanson, Gordon in 2014
Hieracium consociatum, Sociable Hawkweed (!) by Tim Rich and Mike Shewring in 2008

and interestingly the oldest record on the BSBI database for the area is this:

Hieracium argillaceum, Southern Hawkweed by Miles, BA in 1955

Our best find ? Possibly Arum italicum subsp. italicum, Italian Lords-and-Ladies which we probably should have photographed. Here is one I took (much) earlier:
Italian Lords-and-Ladies or Arum italicum subsp. italicum

(2006 at Watery Combe, Chewton Mendip)

We were glad to repair to the Neuadd Arms for excellent beer and some lunch after our efforts in the hail!

Yes. I remember Adlestrop
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat, the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire

Edward Thomas

Friday, January 05, 2018

New Year Plant Hunt 2018

What a way to start our botanical year! Crickhowell proved to be a good choice of venue for this year's hunt and we found 53 plants in flower which could reasonably be said to be wild-growing.

Lesser Celandine or Llygad Ebrill, Ficaria verna subsp. fertilis (Ranunculus ficaria subsp. ficaria)

We set off in the right direction, it turned out, going east from the car park and rapidly collecting many records as we passed the allotments and went out onto the A40 towards the edge of the county. This is clearly the route that adventurous plants are taking into Brecknock.

Common Fumitory or Mwg-y-ddaear cyffredin, Fumaria officinalis

After a good lunch at the Bear we agreed to finish our three hour search, significantly increasing our total, but finds were much more sparse going west. It was also much windier so we were relieved to get back to our cars when time was up.

We saw plenty of Geranium robertianum all the way around Crickhowell but it was by the car park entrance that Anne finally spotted a flower  - making the last addition to our total of 53 flowering plants seen.
Musk-mallow, Hocysen fwsg or Malva moschata

In fact everyone tried very hard - we had to examine our specimen of Knotgrass pretty closely to find one tiny flower and many other plants had a profusion of leaves but only one tiny flower.

This grass had me stumped - it's a new entrant to the county - via Cardiff Docks and Monmouth...

Water Bent, Barfwellt y dŵr or Polypogon viridis

(picture by Sue)

We never saw a single Holly flower (too early) or Ivy (too late) and, if the Box in the churchyard had managed to open one of its prolific buds I would have had a dilemma whether to record it - probably not as certainly not native and almost certainly planted.

Oxford Ragwort, or Creulys Rhydychen, Senecio squalidus

Garden Pansy, Trilliw’r gerddi or Viola x wittrockiana

There was little rain but a lovely rainbow.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A walk along the Wye

We got permission to explore some of the Wye bank near Llyswen yesterday and found several interesting and not-often-recorded species there and also on the field edges nearby.

 Photographing Pale Toadflax by the Wye
Pale Toadflax, Llin-y-llyffant gwelw or Linaria repens
The map of recent records for this in Brecknock is distinctly sparse so we were glad to spot it.

There aren't many more records for this either - but we should probably look on more arable field edges!
Field Pansy, Trilliw'r tir âr or Viola arvensis

Common Ramping-fumitory, Mwg-y-ddaear amrywiol or Fumaria muralis amongst Beet

We saw this all along the river:
Marsh Ragwort, Creulys y gors or Senecio aquaticus

Bracket fungi (very old) on a very cracked Crack-willow

Thanks to Sue for most of the photos