Friday, May 29, 2015

Vicarage Meadows

This reserve is just a lovely place to be in even if you don't find what you are looking for:

Bluebells still at their best here near Abergwesyn and peppering the open meadow.

Another woodland plant that enjoys this meadow: Wood Anemone, Blodyn y gwynt or Anemone nemorosa

And the first Heath Spotted-orchids, Tegeirian brych y rhos or Dactylorhiza maculata also dotted around.

But no sign yet of the Small White Orchid. We did think we had found some developing Butterfly and Fragrant Orchids though which will be giving a good display we hope by the time of the meeting there on 13th June.

Update 12th June

The meeting has had to be cancelled as it transpires the "Man versus Horse" event at Llanwyrtyd will make access very difficult. But the orchids are late anyway - as reported in the new blog post. (Previously they have been seen flowering on 5th June 2014 and 13th June 2013 - it's been a cold early Summer up at Abergwesyn.)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Geology, Botany and Finding a Wood

We knew where the wood was - but how to get in ?

I had memories of being shown a route some years back and permission from the owner to go and explore for plants but in the event we had trouble finding a fence we could scale without damage (or getting ourselves soaking). The wood was in the general area of Llangorse and we made of on the lanes and through commons, circling around our goal and finding some good records on the way.

Water Avens in hedgerows (and its cross with Wood Avens) was one of the delights.
Water Avens, Mapgoll glan y dwr or Geum rivale
(not from last week)

When we stopped for lunch, Mike noticed that we had the true Spanish Bluebell alongside us - not actually that common "in the wild" unlike the cross between it and our native:
Spanish Bluebell, Clychau’r-gog Sbaenaidd or Hyacinthoides hispanica

In the wood I photographed:
Greater Stitchwort, Serenllys mawr or Stellaria holostea

Marsh Valerian, Triaglog y gors or Valeriana dioica
(a female plant in this case)

and there were several very good specimens of:
Early-purple Orchid, Tegeirian coch y gwanwyn or Orchis mascula

Earlier in the week I had been on a geological walk organised by James Cresswell of Geoworld Travel and we visited Bwlch Quarry to see the signs of an ancient river profile in the Old Red Sandstone rockface:
Bwlch Quarry (long out of use)

But what was also interesting was the evidence all around us that Old Red Sandstone is not devoid of lime-rich layers which had contributed to a rich flora on the old quarry floor:

Mouse-ear-hawkweed, Clust y llygoden or Pilosella officinarum

There was a lot besides - mostly not flowering - including many Carline Thistles and it was nice to see:
Rustyback, Duegredynen gefngoch or Asplenium ceterach

- growing in a rock face which, even if still man-made, was more like its natural habitat than the usual stone walls it is found on.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A busy week

The Digedi valley was my first outing last week - to take a group on the old route up towards Gospel Pass to see some of the remains of the days when it was "a busy highway" with a plant nursery and a school as well as to see some of the varied flora along the route. 

In the event it was too early for the Meadow Saxifrage and the Bladdernut that has presumably been there since the days of the nursery was cut down to the ground in clearing operations around the ford. There were signs of regeneration though. 

Bladdernut (fruits), Cneuen godog or Staphylea pinnata in 2012

At Penyrwrlod Serth (a deserted farmstead) we had a view of the daffodils being cultivated high in the Black Mountains. Presumably part of the ongoing trial for production of galantamine. Higher yields come from growing the bulbs in the more stressful (for the plants) conditions here.

Then I set out to chase up one or two things I wanted to see like this Solomon's Seal growing by the hedge outside Trefecca:
Garden Solomon's-seal, Llysiau-Solomon yr ardd or Polygonatum x hybridum 

and then further west in the county to see this flowering:
Soft-leaved Sedge, Hesgen feddal or Carex montana

Soft-leaved Sedge isn't found in many parts of the the British Isles but we have good populations in Brecknock.

In Cae Bryntywarch Nature Reserve Lousewort was dotted everywhere.
Lousewort, Melog y cwn or Pedicularis sylvatica

Then I joined a Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales walk right on our borders - we walked out in Brecknock, went round the source of the Usk and returned through Carmarthenshire. It's wild country and I made some records of the more obvious species seen but it was mainly about stone circles, sheepfolds and other relics of the past.
The young Usk

A deserted stone sheepfold

Lichen encrusted rock - part of an alignment

Close up

And little streams like this to go back and explore more...

Monday, May 04, 2015

Talgarth Walking Festival

Having agreed to lead a walk up from Talgarth to Trewalkin Meadow Nature Reserve for the festival we set out to do some route checking (and plant recording) earlier in the week.

On the old railway line near Talgarth (private land with special access permission for the Festival) we found a large patch of Goldilocks Buttercup, an annual with a distinctive stance and, usually, rather imperfect flowers with missing petals. These however were mostly well-formed - clearly a superior Brecknockshire form!
Goldilocks Buttercup, Blodyn-ymenyn peneuraid or Ranunculus auricomus

There was plenty of native Yellow Archangel and also some of this garden form in the area:
Yellow Archangel (Garden form), Marddanhadlen felen or Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. argentatum
The main difference of this form is the leaves with silvery-white blotches.

When exploring the railway line some of us took the old Tramway route, others the old railway and the two intrepid members of the group the high ground in between at this point:

Up at the reserve on the day of the walk it was early for many things like Greater Burnet (although we found one plant starting to send up flowering spikes). But Water Avens (and its hybrid with Wood Avens) was already abundant - and reminded us that we were lucky to be able to get around so easily and even picnic in what is normally a very wet place.
Water Avens, Mapgoll glan y dwr or Geum rivale

In the wooded area there was Wood Spurge as well as a ground carpet of Sanicle, Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage and more. There was even one just-starting-to-flower Early Purple Orchid, spotted by Bev from the Wildlife Trust.
Wood Spurge, Llaethlys y coed or Euphorbia amygdaloides

Picnicking in Trewalkin meadow isn't always this easy!