Monday, October 31, 2016

Sheep, fungi and fossils (with a tiny bit of botany)

I forgot to include this picture of the new Soay sheep at Henallt Common in the last post. They introduced themselves to me when I was photographing the berries. Hopefully they will increase in number and get the common under control in the coming years...

We did find Fly Agarics when out doing some late recording on Buckland Hill where we found, but didn't photograph, one Common Centaury plant in flower, some dead but recognisable Red Bartsia and several other species well worth recording especially on the rocky outcrops there.
Fly Agaric or Amanita muscaria on Buckland Hill

Earlier I joined James Cresswell for a Geologically themed walk in the Taf Fechan valley at Merthyr Tydfil and photographed these anthills in the large quarry there:

We did see these Great Horsetails on a landslip along the valley:
Great Horsetail, Marchrawnen fawr or Equisetum telmateia

Dog Lichen or Peltigera spp.

It was hard to remember at times how close we were (for the entire walk) to busy roads and Merthyr town as we walked the secluded valley. There were only occasional glimpses of the trappings of civilisation high above us on the valley edge.
The Taf Fechan
We encountered fossil coral:

and an abundance of Maidenhair Spleenwort behind the derelict Cyrfartha Ironworks furnaces:
Maidenhair Spleenwort, Duegredynen gwallt y forwyn or Asplenium trichomanes

This is an under-appreciated gem in Merthyr:
The Pont-y-Cafnau (English: Bridge of Troughs), sometimes written Pont y Cafnau or Pontycafnau, is a 14.2-metre (47 ft) long iron truss bridge over the River Taff in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. The bridge was designed by Watkin George and built in 1793 for his employer, the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, to support both a tramway and an aqueduct to carry limestone and water into the works. A Grade II* listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument, the Pont-y-Cafnau is the world's earliest surviving iron railway bridge.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Common plants, Berries and Pools

Passing a field by the A40 nearing Sennybridge I noticed a field with a spectacular (from the road) display of a white flower. I couldn't think what is might be but about a week later had time to investigate.

The field was planted with Turnips (or similar) and turned out to have a footpath through it but the intensity of the white flowers was already waning by the time I got round to investigating. I had to get nearer than the road before the penny dropped - Yarrow!
Yarrow, Milddail or Achillea millefolium

But it was good to realise how a good stand of this can be quite stunning. Better botanists I know could have identified it from the road (at speed)...
Some of the Yarrow in the field

But it turned out to make a good circular walk through varying habitats as I continued on the path to loop back to the car by a different route - and a definite route for recording next summer as the route passes through four 1km squares all in the same tetrad (a bit for a first for awkward Brecknock) in an area not recently recorded.

Next I went to Henallt Common in search mainly for the Fly Agaric I have been told can be abundant there. It was too early for them but there was an abundance of berries on several different trees and shrubs - a cold winter due? How could they tell?
Holly, Celynnen or Ilex aquifolium
Hawthorn, Draenen wen or Crataegus monogyna
Rowan, Criafolen or Sorbus aucuparia
...Somewhat past its best the last one.

Then two of us set out on a cold day to search for Pillwort in pools on Llandefalle Common. We didn't find any but there was lots of other interest and we found this which I hadn't seen for a while in a rather dried up pool:
Marsh Speedwell, Rhwyddlwyn culddail y gors or Veronica scutellata

This pool was the most water-filled but still had no Pillwort. It is abundant in a pool not far away at all on Brechfa Common.

And here is some Pillwort I photographed (much) earlier:
Pillwort, Pelenllys gronynnog or Pilularia globulifera

You can tell it's a fern from the way the fronds unfurl...