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Friday, October 25, 2013

Wet Pasture, Weird Plants and Fungi

Ben Mullen discovered a strange Devil's-bit Scabious at the new Cae Lynden reserve a few weeks back. It reminded me of the Foxglove we saw at Talybont Reservoir at the beginning of August. Both seemed to have proliferating bracts where a flower should be without any sign of a flower. The Devil's-bit Scabious has now managed to flower and I went to see this earlier in the week:
The new reserve looks like a great place to explore next Spring / Summer !

Here is a normal flower from a plant nearby for comparison:

I took a winding route back for several odd jobs (not all botanical) and found roads and sights at this edge of Brecknockshire I still have to explore, ending up at Cwmdu where there was quite of display of Spindle fruits in a hedgerow:
One of the great Autumn sights in my view

Last Sunday was the appointed day for a Brecknock Wildlife Trust Fungal Foray led by David Mitchel. Althouygh always very near Brecon (in Priory Woods and the Cathedral Close) a wide array of species was found (mainly by David).
Oak Bracket, Inonotus dryadeus

Beefsteak fungus, Fistulina hepatica (the holder was going to take it home and cook it)

Dead Man's Fingers, Xylaria polymorpha

White Coral, Ramariopsis kunzei

Finally; I did get out a record a little - while my car was having a disc brake transplant in Builth Wells. Builth Castle mound is fascinating - if not the best botanical habitat known to man - so no pictures of plants - just this view of the Wye. (But all recording is good recording...)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Totting up

I've been reviewing and collecting statistics while I sort out my records for the year. 33 people accompanied me on a botanical field survey at least once and 9 of them came along 3 or more times. If the support continues then recording the vascular plants of Brecon for the next atlas update should be secure (if still a challenge !). It's not just the company or even the extra botanical expertise - having more eyes in the team results in more species recorded I am sure.

We recorded 3300 individual records of about 600 different species in the period from march through to a few weeks ago. In addition records are still coming in from individual efforts - this is especially welcome.

Meanwhile I haven't entirely stopped botanising. These unusual ferns on the Hay Railway path needed to be properly identified:
This it turns out is a Shaggy Shield Fern, Dryopteris cycadina

Also known as Black Wood Fern and certainly escaped from a garden. It's well-established and holding its own against the general scrub. The species is native to northern India, China, Taiwan and Japan but grows well and is popular in British gardens. I am grateful to Dr Fred Rumsey for identifying this.

Fortune's cyrtomium, Cyrtomium fortunei var. fortunei

Also known as Japanese holly fern, this is more commonly found established in the wild and again is from the Far East. I had noticed both these ferns back in 2011 and thought this one might be this species but again Dr Fred Rumsey confirmed that it really was and added the "var".

I am a little more sure of my native ferns now and noticed a fine stand of Soft-shield fern nearby:
Soft Shield-fern, Polystichum setiferum

The same again underneath the fronds.

Ferns are just one of the groups I can continue to seek out during the winter...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Preparing for next year and wallking

Steph and I visited a farm in the Nedd Valley where we will be holding a botanical recording meeting next year in association with the National Trust who own it. We were more focussed on searching out habitats to visit than recording botany - and we did find a most amazing variation of habitat types from wet pasture to classic unspoilt hay meadows and limestone pavement. 

There were some varied fungi on display.
 This is I think a Geoglossum or Trichoglossum
 Some waxcaps
 and, as Steph observed ironically, "maybe a coprophilous fungus"
This at first glance seemed like a nice soft cushion to sit on and observe the Nedd gorge below, which would not have been a safe thing to try as it is a mat of a brittle lichen.
And we had our lunch sitting on these massive limestone pavement boulders in woodland on a higher part of the farm.
We saw Small-leaved lime growing natively sprouting from the rocks of the gorge and also some Wych Elm (not pictured) with very large leaves.
The Lime trunks corresponding to the photograph above.

Then yesterday Martin Wibberly and I reprised our "History and Flora of the Digedi Valley" walk for the Hay Walking Festival. This time the weather looked good on the forecast as well as when we set out only to deteriorate to about the level we had last year from a very wet start. This led to some philosophising on weather and walking - it somehow seemed more disappointing to be sheltering just where we did last year for lunch having set out hoping to do so on the common under Hay Bluff. But it went well with Martin, as usual, full of fascinating anecdotes as well as hard facts about the history of this area and the fate of the farms. I managed as before to find just enough visible botany go get by in a difficult month !


Friday, October 04, 2013

Still plenty to find

I was drawn to a particular area near Erwood today by an old record of Campanula patula - the flower that has been seen again this year in that locality. I didn't find any but there was still plenty to identify and record in the area.

There were also some great fungi - including this one I cannot identify:


I'd been mildly chastising myself for failing to record several common species this year so far - high on the list was the bindweeds - and lo and behold both common Calystegia species presented themselves today within about 100 yards.


This is Calystegia silvatica, Large Bindweed with bracts that entirely hide the sepals behind the flower. The Calystegia sepium, Hedge Bindweed I saw wasn't in a photogenic state. Of course when I was a gardener I hardly cared which species they were as I zapped them !

I was also pleased to see both common and water Figwort in the area.

Scrophularia nodosa, Common Figwort fruits

It helps enormously to keep at the botanical recording regularly making it possible to identify several species from leaves and stems alone, having got familiar with them earlier in the year when in flower. So there's a reason to carry on through the winter !