Saturday, July 30, 2016

Not the Welsh AGM!

Although the BSBI Welsh AGM (see blog post) has dominated my thinking up to mid July, the botany group have found time for other activities.

With one of my children now living near Caterham we found ourselves on Farthing Downs on a rather wet day in June but I couldn't resist photographing locally abundant (but nationally rare) Greater Yellow-rattle. There is a lot more to be seen in the area when I have time...
Greater Yellow-rattle, Cribell felen fawr or Rhinanthus angustifolius

Also in June, the botany group did some exploration high above the Nant Irfon on Abergwesn Common (National Trust land) where we enjoyed wonderful views and also made a good set of records in this relatively unexplored area.

Galium saxatile and Veronica officinale. Heath Speedwell and Heath Bedstraw making a nice show on Abergwesyn Common

In the recent hot weather we went to Craig y Nos for a relatively cool woodland walk where I took the opportunity to photograph a "Brecon" Meadow Crane's-bill in the meadows there:
Meadow Crane's-bill, Pig-yr-aran y weirglodd or Geranium pratense

And we also escaped the heat by going to the Black Mountain Quarry area. This is over in neighbouring Carmarthenshire but I had always wanted to see this "other side" of our big hill in the south west of the county.

Thyme was abundant in the grass.
Wild Thyme, Teim gwyllt or Thymus polytrichus

And here is a picture of the flowers of "Motherwort" - not really wild but then the owner of the garden didn't plant / sow it either. Seen near Hay up on the Black Mountains.
Motherwort, Mamlys or Leonurus cardiaca

And recently we did a survey on some Woodland Trust meadows near Sarnau just north of Brecon, finding a rich variety of species and learning our botany as we went from one sampling site to the next. (We did 70 quadrats in all in the day.)

Lunch between doing field 1 and field 2.

And exploring Craig y Cilau for a suitable route for a forthcoming U3A Geology group trip we found this excellent example of eroded Glacial Till just where it was marked on the Geological map. Unfortunately the paths to go this way were not suitable for the meeting itself.

Most recently I joined Phil Sutton of Brecknock Wildlife Trust surveying the Cae Eglwys Reserve (near the Woodland Trust site above as it happens). This reserve is coming on well and results showed a good improvement in the "right" species. I didn't take photographs that day but photographed this Fleabane there a few years back:
Common Fleabane, Cedowydd or Pulicaria dysenterica

Phil photographed this Marsh Orchid there earlier in the year:

BSBI Welsh AGM at Brecon

The Welsh section of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland holds an AGM Field meeting every year somewhere in Wales and this year was the first occasion for some time that the Brecknock area was host. (The formal business is soon dealt with and most of the meeting is about botanists getting together, field meetings and food.)

 I'll start with a couple of the pictures I took while out with members of the botany group checking the routes of the proposed field visits.

Llangorse was a natural choice for a field visit - it has a large proportion of our rarer species growing in and around it and always has surprises in store for a visiting botanist.

Joan and I were surprised to see a lot of Veronica catenata all around the periphery of the lake. It's normally found there somewhere but not usually in great abundance or, for that matter, particularity large plants. This year was different.
Pink Water-Speedwell, Graeanllys-y-dwr rhosliw or Veronica catenata
Here showing swollen fruits (galls) caused by Gymnetron villosulum beetle larvae.

We also saw Celery-leaved Buttercup
Celery-leaved Buttercup, Crafanc yr eryr or Ranunculus sceleratus

The meeting proper started on the Tuesday afternoon but some arrived early and explored the area around the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu National Nature Reserve high up above Craig y Nos and Penwyllt where the limestone pavement supports some rare communities of plants. They first found Green Spleenwort there:

and later found it was a relatively common plant in the limestone.

Green Spleenwort, Duegredynen werdd or Asplenium viride

Here Martyn is pointing out a Lily of the Valley plant deep in a limestone "gryke". This is just one of the rather unexpected species to be found in the area.

Lily-of-the-valley, Lili'r dyffrynnoedd or Convallaria majalis

Meanwhile several of the visitors were setting up their exhibits at The Barn at Brynich - our venue for the meeting.

Andy Shaw in particular had an impressive display of the many rare plants he has in cultivation.

With this tray having some particularly difficult to find in the wild specimens:

Perhaps the star being this fern found only at a few South Western coastal sites.
Small Adder's-tongue, Tafod-y-neidr bach or Ophioglossum azoricum

The next day (after the formalities of the AGM in the early morning) groups set out to explore Vicarage Meadows, Cwm Cadlan and Stanner Rocks.

Here are some pictures of the group at Vicarage Meadows.

Walking through the abundant Dyer's Greenweed

Dyer's Greenweed, Melynog y waun or Genista tinctoria

(The group who went to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu National Nature Reserve saw this much more rare close relative on the Tuesday)
Hairy Greenweed, Corfanhadlen flewog or Genista pilosa

(I don't have pictures of the Cwm cadlan and Stanner vists but plenty was seen at both.)

On the Thursday most of the delegates went to Llangorse (the few exceptions mentioned below...)

And some of those went out on boats to sample the plants growing in the water.

The "professional boat"

The "amateur" boat (including myself taking the picture).

We saw:
Ivy-leaved Duckweed, Llinad dail eiddew or Lemna trisulca
Yellow Water-lily, Lili'r-dwr felen or Nuphar lutea
with, in the background:
Fringed Water-lily, Lili’r-dŵr eddïog or Nymphoides peltata
(The White water lily was also seen.)

But some serious work was done, finding two Charophytes and a variety of the leafy pond-weeds.

Shining Pondweed, Dyfrllys disglair or Potamogeton lucens

And we had a distant view of the other small party up on Cribyn and Pen y Fan seeing the Attenborough's Hawkweed and other gems on  the steep cliffs. (They are not quite visible in the picture below...)

(Taken from the boat when the party would have been on Cribyn - they had perfect weather as we did.)
Ray Woods came along later to join the land party at Llangorse but didn't catch up with them. He did however re-find this which had not been recorded since the 1990s.
Mare's-tail, Rhawn y gaseg or Hippuris vulgaris

Over the four days 1150 records for the county were made by BSBI botanists - a welcome contribution to our recording effort especially as the list included species we local recorders had missed. Amongst these records are 35 updated since before 2000 and 11 that had not been seen before in the area*.

Many thanks to the photographers who contributed many of the pictures above.
*Hectad or 10km square