Thursday, September 08, 2022

Chasing Wild Geese

 It was a little late in the season to catch Llyn y Fan Fawr with a low water level but, spurred on by the news that its Carmarthenshire counterpart (Llyn y Fan Fach) had revealed some exciting finds when its level dropped dramatically this year, we decided to try.

At least the weather was reasonably kind to us and we found Quillwort or Isoetes lacustris which hasn't been recorded there since 1972. 

Luck played a part but also having shore bound colleagues pointing out where to go helped a lot (they could see better than I could from above). I didn't even need to feet my feet wet (just) as I waded in my Wellingtons beyond where the common Shoreweed grew.

The only picture I have is from my microscope showing the characteristic division of the leaf cross section into four compartments so here is a drawing from an old book:

And my cross-sections:

I didn't photograph the lake but the upper reaches of the Tawe, which we followed from it's source on the way back made for some nice snaps.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Half a year gone

 And we have been active.

Members of the botany group were invited to update our records for Townhall Clock - Adoxa moschatellina from early March.

Adoxa moschatellina at Pwll y Wrach Nature Reserve, Talgarth

Results are pretty much now in (it is hard to spot and record from now on and often completely died back).

It was refound in 21 of the target monads (1km squares) with Gaye and Lynne finding the longest "lost" population near Crickhowell (last seen 1957). (All the updates were for squares where it had not been seen since 1999.)

There were records from 34 squares where the species had never before been recorded. Other records stretched from near Craig y nos (the species peters out to the south west there) to Cilmery near Builth Wells.

Click here for the full results.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

A welcome find

In October I received a report from Julie of Stag's-horn Clubmoss on Llangoed common. Several members of the recording group got there to check this out before I did and my group was initially dumbfounded to discover that we couldn't find it despite having good grid references. So after a while we decided to give up at one of the couple of  locations reported and set off for another only for Claire, who was leading, to call back that she had found it not 100m from where we had given up. Either the satellites were wonky that day or on the day of the earlier reports and we had been focussing too much on exact grid refs and managing to miss the populations while toing and froing!

Stag's-horn Clubmoss, Cnwp-fwsogl corn carw or Lycopodium clavatum
at Llangoed common

Never mind - once found and with our "eye's in" we established that the population was very large - certainly a more established and abundant population than had been found in such a habitat in this county for many years.

The common itself is a delight and very carefully managed - the Bracken control (which was active at the time of discovery) being very effective at creating conditions for the Clubmoss to thrive.

And on the opposite bank of the stream the grassland was home to many wonderful Waxcaps - it's a well we had Ray with us to name them all.

Scarlet waxcap or Hygrocybe coccinea at Llangoed common

Steph, who visited later on, found native White-clawed crayfish in the stream - adding to the good habitat rating for the area.

This picture alludes to our initial confusion!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Botany 2021 - part 2

The group have been very active in the latter part of the year, in many cases without my active participation.

On 25th June, we visited the Carex limosa site on the Vice County border previously discovered by Barry Stewart in 2001. This is at least 50km as the crow flies from the nearest other known sites near Swansea.

Bog-sedge or Hesgen eurwerdd, Carex limosa on a Peat bog on Llangattock Mountain

Needless the say the whole area was interesting and we also saw Cranberry in some profusion.

Cranberry or Llygaeren, Vaccinium oxycoccos in a flush near the Carex

The beginning of July saw a group of us undertake a couple of days botanising in the remote north-west of the county, staying at the hostel at Dolgoch. It was a very wet weekend but we were delighted to encounter a field high up under Craig Carreg-fan with abundant Viola lutea.

Mountain Pansy or Trilliw y mynydd, Viola lutea

We climbed up higher and this view back just shows (centre lowdown) the zigzag path through bracken by which we approached the rocks above.

The group excursion outside the county this year took us to Cors Fochno just inland at Borth to see the Irish Ladies Tresses that now have settled there. It was agreat day and we enjoyed the other bog plants as well.

Irish Lady's-tresses or Troellig Wyddelig, Spiranthes romanzoffiana at Cors Fochno

A few other highlights:

Lunch time at the edge of the Epynt

Blue Fleabane or Amrhydlwyd glas, Erigeron acris (Erigeron acer) on Gilwern Hill 
(Picture Anne Griffiths)

Yellow Bird's-nest or Cytwf, Hypopitys monotropa (Monotropa hypopitys) at Cwm Clydach
(Picture Anne Griffiths)

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Botany 2021 in Brecknock

The Botany Group has not been entirely inactive with a lot of individual work proceeding from early on (within guidelines) and more recently we have done some group surveys.

Here are a few highlights so far.

Primroses on the canal

Common Whitlowgrass, Llysiau’r-bystwn ar or Erophila verna was abundant around Brecon and Hay

We found Hay-scented Buckler-fern, Marchredynen bêr or Dryopteris aemula near the Pyrddin river

Bird's-nest Orchid, Tegeirian nyth aderyn or Neottia nidus-avis
found in some quantity near Builth by R Gibbins

A Hybrid Sedge, Carex x prolixa or Carex acuta x elata found in wet Alder wood.

Choke disease, Epichloe typhina (probably) on Poa in the same woodland.

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Too long for botany

Three of us set out on a long walk last Sunday from a car park near Abergwesyn to the Llyn Brianne Reservoir. Abergwesyn itself seems remote in our county and the drive between our start point and the place where we met the road again is a long one of over 10 miles over the "Devil's staircase". The walk up Cwm Culent and down Cwm Garach was "only" about 3 miles. I say only as it was quite tough going at times with much boggy and tussocky ground.

We returned through forestry and past the Cefn Fanog trig point (lost in the trees). This return route may have been a greater climb but was actually easier - thankfully.

(The trig point has been photographed by Trig Point baggers - see this, but we didn't bother visiting it!)

There was plenty to see including this very tall and flowering Bush Vetch. There was similarly robust Meadow Vetchling nearby.

Bush Vetch, Ffacbysen y cloddiau or Vicia sepium

There were several abandoned homesteads in the valleys and anthill meadows like this.

Anthills on Nant Culent near Abegwesyn

As can be seen the conditions were not good to start with.

Steph noticed some Bell-heather sheltering from grazing under Gorse:

Bell Heather, Grug y mêl or Erica cinerea

This species is surprisingly uncommon in the county and this record has added a green dot to this map:

We saw a fogbow as the mist started clearing around us.

Below Cefn Fanog

(A fog bow, sometimes called a white rainbow, is a similar phenomenon to a rainbow; however, as its name suggests, it appears as a bow in fog rather than rain. Because of the very small size of water droplets that cause fog—smaller than 0.05 millimeters the fog bow has only very weak colors.)

This is the view back from where we came once we got to the reservoir road.

From the Llyn Brianne reservoir road

Llyn Brianne reservoir from our lunch spot.

Looking down from Cefn Fanog on the way back.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

And recently...

Outings in November have been walks with occasional records - to scout out habitats for more attention next year (we hope!)

The first was to Craig y Cilau, the cliffs and old quarries above Llangattock. The area is particularly botanically rich and we though we might just catch a very young Hutchinsia plant - they are flowering by March. 

Hutchinsia, Beryn y graig or Hornungia petraea (was known as Hutchinsia petraea) Avon Gorge

 - We didn't.

 But Alan did spot a small patch of this - not previously recorded there:

Ivy-leaved Bellflower, Clychlys dail eiddew or Wahlenbergia hederacea (Abergwesyn 2018)

and we identified several areas for exploration next year.

A week later saw us up between the Nedd Fechan and Afon Llia on the high ground, exploring an area known as Plas y Gors. The two rivers both get water from this watershed - and eventually meet up again at Pontneddfechan.

The forestry there used to cover a known Roman Fort site so it was good to see that area had been cleared and apparently not replanted (other areas near the fort had been). Whether the outline of the fort will eventually become clear again was uncertain !

 We soon passed the Maen Madoc standing stone.

The Maen Madoc or Maen Madog stone is adjacent to the Roman road Sarn Helen that runs across the Brecon Beacons.

It is thought to mark a Christian burial – the stone is inscribed on one side, the Latin inscription reading DERVAC(IVS) FILIVS IVSTI (H)IC IACIT – "Of Dervacus, Son of Justus. He lies here".

There was a dwelling called Plas y Gors and these are the ruins. We had managed to get through the bog referenced in the name by the time we saw it. It is difficult to imagine the existence supporting such a relatively grand dwelling. There is more information about the ruined farmstead, thought to be 18th or 19th century, on Coflein.

The bog to the left of it certainly is worth a summer visit and has yielded reports of quite rare plants in the 1990s. We saw that the trees that used to surround the bog have been felled which is good news for its future. 

Our most recent visit was to the Nant yr Hafod stream which comes off the southern slopes of Mynydd Llangatwg. It is our only site for Cornish Moneywort which I last saw in 2013. We were glad to find it still thriving there.
Cwm Nant yr Hafod
At the top of the Cwm the view to the east shows the just-discernible wall of the Cairn-Mound Reservoir dating from 1880 and abandoned by Welsh Water in 2005. This reservoir collected water destined for the Nant yr Hafod. To the right of the picture the remains of the Disgwlfa Tramroad crossing of the Nant yr Hafod can be seen.
Bing maps shows the reservoir very clearly from above:

We walked back down over the mountain with glorious views towards Llanelly Hill.

and came upon this inscribed stone which it took us a while to decipher:

The Hafod Inscribed Stones
(Go to the link for full details).

These Inscribed Stones that are found near Nant yr Hafod on the southern slopes of Mynydd Llangatwg above the Hafod Road/Cymro Road.

They were done by Jack Rushton. He was born in 1920 who was an upholsterer by trade.

The stone we saw is inscribed: "HE THAT SINNETH IS OF THE DEVIL BE YE HOLY”. There appear to me more letters beneath but we couldn't decipher them. We did manage to read almost all of the above.

There are many more similar stones to be found up there! 

Cornish Moneywort, Deilen gron Cernyw or Sibthorpia europaea
 and flowering in July 2013:


 Parrot Waxcaps back near the cars:

Parrot Waxcap or Hygrocybe psittacina