Friday, March 29, 2013

Cornish Moneywort

28th March 2013
Paul Green was going to check the one Brecon Record for this (Sibthorpia europaea) so I joined him for the hunt. We both weren't expecting so much snow on the southern slopes of Mynydd Llangatwg near Brynmawr so at first the quest seemed doomed to fail.

But Paul's reputation for finding plants didn't let us down and he soon found a few leaves near the previously recorded site nestling under Juncus.

They were few and far between though here where a path crossed the Nant yr Hafod stream (although we had to admit there could be some under the quite large drifts of snow). 

Paul at about the third population found. 

We decided to follow the stream back down to the cars to see whether the plant had spread along it and this led us to areas of quite great abundance. 

Both of us were puzzled why this plant should occur in Breconshire on only this stream, in fact we were talking about this as we laboriously climbed over close parallel fences that the map showed crossing the moorland in an unusual way for common land fences. Paul had also told me earlier he met a man asking the way to the gasworks...

It turns out the fences mark the path of a gas pipeline and I passed the gasworks later returning round the mountain on the old tramway (now a road !) which is at the end of the pipeline. Could it be that pipeline worker's feet / tyres explain the Sibthorpia in this location ? 

Or is this an under-recorded plant for Brecon that also grows along similar streams ? (Or is the geology underylying this stream special ?)

By the end of the population - not far from the cars - I was spotting Sibthorpia like a pro...

Update after better "research" 1st April 20132

It can't be the gas pipeline that is responsible for Sibthorpia getting here - this was constructed between 2001 and 2004 (thanks Google Earth archive imagery !). The original record at this site was in 2000 . However there was a reservoir on the upper waters of the Nant yr Hafod constructed in the 1970s and now empty that might account for the plant being translocated by workers / their vehicles and of course there has been much construction work (tramroads etc) on the mountain since Victorian times.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

First proper meeting

But what a day ! Thanks to Vicky for joining me to look at the daffodils in Llandefaelog Wood and explore for other things we could jointly identify.

The daffodils would seem to be N. pseudonarcissus but maybe not as "pure" as those I posted last week. (Slightly flared / lobed corona on at least one of the few that were open enough to check.)

But writing down finds was becoming difficult by the time we departed (note to self - always take those fingerless mittens I bought in Bantry square a month ago). It was interesting to see so many regenerating conifers (Douglas Fir and ? obscure Abies) that must have come from parents outside the reserve. There was also a tall Larch with what we saw as largish cones very high up in our binoculars - so further investigation needed on that - maybe BWT know what it is.

I went to the "Captain's Walk" in Brecon next to look at a site where we (BWT volunteers) saw Butterbur leaves last year and lo and behold the flowers were just emerging:

Petasites hybridus, Brecon

It looks like my postponed plan for next Thursday at Abergwesyn might have to be put off again - the current long-range prediction is for 2 degrees during the day and -7 at night for that area - in other words an average below freezing !

Yesterday, on a historical heritage walk (tramways) I spotted a nice Helleborus foetidus (probably a garden escape in all honesty) in Glasbury. On the Brecon side of the Wye BUT VC 43 - Radnor - the old boundaries - aren't they wonderful ?

Helleborus foetidus, Glasbury

(Brecon hasn't had this recorded according to the current VC catalogue.)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring ?

Soon I think. In fact I felt a bit of a wimp for postponing the Abergwesyn foray planned for Thursday as I took up a long-standing offer of an introduction to Llangorse from an expert and we had a great day. It was still too early for much recording although plenty of signs of life and "places that looked potentially interesting.

 Selwyn, who took me, was a great guide and I now have met many of the landowners and know some good places to hunt for botanical interest. I did remove a layer in the midday sun but, as I had actually put on one more layer than I ever normally do I suppose I was right that Abergwesyn would have been pretty miserable... At the DoE hatchery I was shown some "probably wild" daffodils and they were - Narcissus pseudonarcissus I am sure (having checked with the very large Stace 3 key).


This hatchery is a little way away from the lake and is where Selwyn bred his voles. We saw plenty of signs of these around the lake though and I learnt that a Water Vole will always chop its reed stems (food storage) with a 45 degree cut...

A few days before that I spent some time at Betws-y-Coed on a BSBI Conifer identification course that really was excellent (And the explanation for some new confier pictures on the site.) I really feel I can cope with these now and actually a drive around the roads around Llangorse will yield some conifer records I notice.

Cones at the top of a Monkey Puzzle - a stretch for the lens I had with me but just visible

A new record for the old arboretum we were in - Araucaria araucana is regenerating there (Paul Green spotted it).