Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pwll y Wrach and Butterbur

Four of us explored this excellent Brecon Wildlife Trust Reserve. (Click here for the BWT page)

It couldn't have been a better day really - many many thanks to my companions, Joan, Wendy and Dainis for the good company, encouragement and above all the great spotting.

The newly acquired south bank side of the Ennig was a delight with carpets of Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage:

as well as substantial populations of its less common relative, Alternate-...

and contrasting carpets of Wood Anemone 

as well as Wild Garlic (not yet in flower).

Toothwort was so abundant to be considered a bit of a yawn by the end of our walk (well not really...)

So all in all it's a great place to be right at the moment. A word of warning though. Access to the other side of the Ennig is dependent on fordability of the river and not to be advised without suitable footwear in suitable weather conditions.

Earlier in the week I had to park up and investigate a population of Butterbur spotted near the Llanfaes A40 roundabout near Brecon. I thought I would like to see if there were any female plants (unlikely according to the books but an indicator of native status if found). You might think from this picture that I did (I certainly was encouraged at the site).

But no - I gather from reading several books that these will be "male" capitulae with sterile stigmas ! It's worth checking for plants, if you see this, with smaller flower heads and slender stigmas (at least that's implied by pictures I've seen in some books). But this isn't very likely here in south Wales. To cap it all Clapham Tutin and Warburg says that "only the sterile florets secrete nectar" - what is this plant trying to achieve ? (OK the answer is certainly the passing on of it's selfish genes - but in a subtle way no doubt.)

Lastly, I got this translation service from Twitter - Floralimages in Gangsta.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mundane but good

I was joined by Steph from Brecon Wildlife Trust for my trip to Cwm Claister above Llangynidr. We postponed starting until the early afternoon, after studying weather forecasts; and I arrived at the parking palace in glorious sun - only to be soaked as I tied up my boots.

But we set off nonetheless, recording as we went into the valley and trying not to get record cards too wet. The sun did return and stayed for the rest of the day so a good day was had with over 100 records in three squares - that may not be record-breaking but satisfying for botanists who struggle a bit with what were still very early signs of spring !

The valley is a lovely spot with old lost trackways lined by very mossy decaying walls:

No amazing finds but good to see Adoxa moschatellina flowering away so soon after the freeze:

Exploration of Cwm Claister Reserve (a newish one for BWT partitioned off from Forestry Commission land) gave us plenty of records - it is a diverse habitat with obviously "interesting" rocks and influenced no doubt by the limestone a little above it. But it is probably the mosses and lichens that are the most diverse - as non specialists we could only wonder at them.

At least I think I know that the last one is a Cladonia spp.

I may have used the word "mundane" in the heading but with a good intent. This is what we need to get stuck into - recording in lovely habitats and enjoying the whole experience !

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nant Irfon National Park

Disappointing not to find any Filmy Ferns - but then I only got to the first site. It was harder going underfoot than expected and ...

But the purpose of getting to know the area was served and some great scenery appreciated at the same time.

A promising looking site (to me) for Hymenophylum is the Nant Hir cascade - here viewed from the other side of the valley. And it looked to me that getting there from the north end of the reserve should be easier so a definite plan for later in the year to go that way.

Nant Hir feeding into the Irfon.

An impressive Downy Birch in the reserve

I also visited the only part of Hectad SN74 in Brecon VC:
Just the little promontory in from of where I was standing belongs to Brecon. The land across the Llyn Brianne Reservoir is in Cardiganshire.