Friday, May 24, 2013

Talybont reservoir and Brechfa

There were several of us at the far end of the reservoir for this botanical exploration and it was a great environment to spend a day in.

Once again - many eyes made for more records; we all learnt stuff we didn't know before and made a contribution to the development of this area as a local nature reserve.

I brushed up on my Sedges with a few I couldn't identify straight away such as Carex disticha, Brown Sedge.

This was Greater Tussock-sedge, Carex paniculata

Then on Thursday I met Phil Sutton of Brecon Wildlife Trust at Brechfa Pool for the setting up of a small cage for an experiment with restricting grazing on one of the rarer plants there. 

The damp grass around the pool was peppered with Blinks in flower - a delightful sight of an overlooked little plant.

Montia fontana subsp. chondrosperma (Blinks)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A verge and a wood

I joined Steph Coates and several of our (Brecon Botanical Recording) number on Wednesday to take a first (?) look at a RVNR high up above Llangors lake. These Brecon road verges can be very botanically diverse and rewarding to explore and this was no exception.

The most unexpected find was "Hidcote Comfrey" well-established in the wild:

But we also saw good populations of Common Dog-violet, Cowslips, Moschatel and much more. (More than 70 species).

Goldilocks buttercup was found as expected on the lower verge - it seems to be a good spring for this species, which I gather from Stace is like the Dandelions in reproducing asexually and, on the continent botanist have over 100 micro-species to determine (if they wish). No wonder Nigel Farage wants us out of Europe !
Goldilocks, Ranunculus auricomus, the upper leaves are characteristic and many flowers are imperfect in most populations - with a petal or more missing.

I also came across a good crop of Goldilocks on the path up the Login brook to Hay common the next day. I've passed there many times at different times of year and never noticed it before. It was in bud and just about to flower then so now is the time to go if you want to see this. It's only just past the graveyard where you go into the Login cwm.

I was on my way to Rook wood and this route looked promising. There were some lovely views.

This path brought me to the top end of the wood so I was able to record the marginal trees as I walked along the fence. It turns out there is no proper entrance though until you come well down the far side so it's not the ideal route to the wood as it turns out. I spent a good time in the wood, not finding anything very special but seeing many good woodland species and noting that there is a fair population of tall Wild Cherry tress all through the wood from the flowers strewn below.

Wild Cherry, Prunus avium - it's only "Bird Cherry" in Latin !

It was also good to sit next to a very fresh Arum flower and listen to and observe all the trapped insects inside:

The bluebells here were probably about a week before their best - and already very impressive.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Limestone pavement - mainly

My education about the landscape of Brecon continues - in the sense of actually seeing what I vaguely knew about in this case.

Conditions looked rather better than forecast when Joan and I set out from Penwyllt to go into the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu National Nature reserve. (This was to change but a good start.)

Green spleenwort

We got to an enclosed area of limestone pavement and did find Convallaria majalis as well as plentiful Geranium lucidum (uncertain at first because I was unused to such lush growth as we saw). Little was flowering yet though (apart from Carex flacca, Wood Anemones, Dog's Mercury  and Cowslips) and its definitely a place to go later in the year (and explore a wider area). We were too soon encouraged to make our way down again though by descending cloud that would have made straying off the paths (old tramways) unwise in any case.

Lily of the Valley in an unexpected habitat

I had intended to go further to a site for Antennaria dioica - that will have to wait - but realised when I got back that it should have been around near where we were - either we missed it or no flowering spikes yet - it may even be that some vegetative growth I surmised to be Mouse-ear Hawkweed was in fact the Antennaria? (My off-season vegetative skills have a little way to go but studying Poland - Vegetative key after excursions is helping me here.)

Antennaria dioica in the Burren

And I nearly forgot - Joan found a plentiful population of Saxifraga hypnoides when we were slightly off the main path (finding our way) soon after we set off.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Builth, Cwmdu and Gilfach

It took a few minutes for me to realise what I had encountered here on the Brecon bank of the Wye at Builth Wells on Monday:

But Black Poplar emerged as the answer eventually. I reasoned from the available evidence that this is a true native Populus nigra subsp. betulifolia so it was encouraging to find that Mike Porter has already determined it as such !

A grand tree anyway:

Then Sue and Joan came along to Paramor orchard near Cwmdu to explore the habitat and we were rewarded with a sight of the two "Dog-violets" both flowering in the copse.

A topical lesson then
Viola riviniana, Common Dog-violet with lighter spur (and notched) and just visible behind, substantial "sepal appendages" as Stace has it. (That is bits of sepal growing backwards - does that help?).
And Viola Reichenbachiana, Early Dog-violet with a darker spur (still a little notched - that isn't a very reliable character ?) and minimal "sepal appendages".

Hope that helps !

And yesterday I was at Gilfach for a joint Radnor / Brecon Roadside Verge scheme day. A great location in great weather and, thanks to the recent weather plenty of rather young conundrums to determine around the site.