Friday, June 28, 2013

Assessing and recording

I joined Steph Coates of BWT on Tuesday to help assess two candidate RVNRs (Road Verge Nature reserves). Both were sites spotted last year where Giant Bellflower grows.

The first, near Llanigon, was where I photographed the Bellflowers mixed with Meadow Cranesbill:

But the second, nearer Felindre, proved to be the most diverse for other species, including Wood Melick and more:

Melica uniflora, Wood Melick

We will see what decisions are taken ! But this is an opportunity to plug the RVNR scheme. Adopting a verge is a great way to get into some botanical recording - do contact BWT if you would be interested. I can offer assistance as you get started - as can the Trust itself.

Allt Rhongyr

A great day recording at this new reserve yesterday - and eight of us turned out for a mostly dry and pleasant day. 127 species were recorded but I took no photographs (too busy recalling Latin names and recording them !) - so refer to the BWT Facebook page for the pictures. Many thanks to the others for telling me what was there as I noted them down.

Focus - stacking

See this picture on my website - I've been growing Foxglove in the garden since discovering this technique - you take several photographs each focussed a little further back along the flower and clever software knits it together so that all is in focus.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A wet and windy weekend

... and firm commitments made to be outdoors botanising ! (Click here for earlier in the week)

Saturday saw the Brecon Wildlife Trust Circular walk to Darren Fawr start from Merthyr Golf Course car park for a walk through very varied and interesting terrain. (The walk was in partnership with the Brecon Beacons Park Society. .) Eight of us were brave enough to start out and condition were not too bad until after lunch but very windy and wet conditions prevented us doing a good exploration of the Darren fawr reserve (being gustily blown onto the slope isn't much better than the opposite). But the woodland along the Taf Fechan was well worth the effort with abundant Water Avens and its hybrid with Wood Avens:

Geum rivale / urbanum hybrid - both parents were nearby.

I managed to record fairly comprehensively for the first 1km square - much helped by others in the group - but we fell behind the schedule for time and so I was relieved to just enjoy the walk after that as we picked up speed.

Lunch on an old trackway on the common.

Then on Sunday I went to a BSBI meeting just over our northern border into Radnorshire at Elan where we saw some lovely meadows abundant with Vicia orobus before deciding to move indoors to chat as the weather deteriorated. 
Vicia orobus, Wood Bitter-vetch

Then later Ray Woods was able to show us a meadow with many gems near Newbridge on Wye (again on the Radnor side).

More Adder's tongue than I have ever seen in one place before !
Genista anglica, Petty Whin

Postscript, seen at Hereford on the 19th June:
Picture taken at dusk on my phone: River Water-crowfoot?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Back in Brecknockshire

I've been to the BSBI AGM at Beaumaris so didn't update this blog last week but am now back and recording in Brecknockshire.

On Tuesday I met Sue on her RVNR (Roadside Verge Nature Reserve - there are still reserves looking for volunteers to monitor them !) to see the population of Carex divulsa subspecies divulsa:

It's not a species I am familiar with and if, like me, you are familiar with Carex remota (Remote sedge) in woodland then this is very similar - except for the lack (almost entirely) of bracts (leaves to you and me) just below the spikes.

Remote Sedge

There is also one patch of Long-stalked Cranesbill in this reserve which was looking good:

The long stalk is the pedicel of the flower. This is a rare case where the common name is actually helpful !

Then on Thursday I had signalled in my email that I wouldn't be doing anything ambitious and the weather forecast for the day got steadily worse as it approached. But Joan joined me for the least worst part of the day as advertised by the Met Office and actually we had no rain at Llandefalle. We did get wet though in the churchyard undergrowth and were rewarded by confirmation of the "rare for Brecon" Dwarf  Elder. Not yet in flower but easy to spot once you knew what to look for. Helpfully the locality provided both Ground-elder and Elder to compare !

Sambucus ebulus, Dwarf Elder

We also found some Monkshood (almost certainly a garden escape but well established in woodland).

Aconitum napellus, Monkshood

To see other species I encountered in Anglesey go to my website - recent changes page.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Searching high and low

A good week of ideal botanical weather. For the walk at Darren Fawr Steph and I were joined by Paul Green (BSBI Welsh officer) and Mike Porter for what turned out to be a very enjoyable walk and also a great educational day for the two less-experienced of us. So many more records were noted by me for two one kilometre squares than would otherwise have been.

An example was a patch of Trifolium micranthum (Slender Trefoil) spotted by Paul - who was able to point out the rather deeper yellow colour compared to the common Lesser Trefoil and the small notches on the standard of the flower.

(This picture of Slender Trefoil wasn't taken last week...)

We were hoping to see some of the rare Whitebeams up there but missed those - however we did find the one site in Breconshire for Rigid Buckler-fern, Dryopteris submontana, a close relative of the woodland Male-fern.
Paul Green with Dryopteris submontana

This fern is covered with tiny glands on both leaf surfaces

Then yesterday I visited a very wet meadow in the Ewood area where one of my recording group has found Globeflowers and other interesting plants such as American Skunk-cabbage, Lysichiton americanus:

Not from yesterday as it was past flowering

Globeflowers near Erwood

Much of this meadow was dominated by Oenanthe crocata, Hemlock Water-dropwort which must make quite a sight when it comes into flower. I've never seen so much in one place.

Hemlock Water-dropwort in Somerset

Earlier in the week I was on a much needed grass identification course courtesy of BIS. A very valuable two days for me with excellent instruction from Sarah Watson-Jones. While looking at meadow grasses in Craig-y-nos country park we encountered this Marsh-orchid:

Saturday, June 01, 2013

"Mixed Tussocky Moorland, Alder Carr Woodland and Meadows"

Well the full "promise" from Steph and myself was "We will walk up through some mixed tussocky moorland, Alder Carr woodland and meadows before returning on the footpath from Nant y Beudy".

In the end we couldn't quite achieve this - being frustrated by a new deer fence of which we were unaware. The going was hard, we had to turn back eventually and go by car to the final meadow but boy was it worth it !

The prettiest of the Horsetails, Equisetum sylvaticum, abundant near Crai

The estate had been assessed by Steph in 2007 and was well worth a return visit (with permission of course - this is private land). The difficult going is partly due to grazing by cattle and the wet local climate but it made for interesting botany and quite some challenges for us to identify things not as far advanced as would have hoped.
An example would be the Lousewort we encountered that appeared to have the diagnostic "second pair of lateral teeth" on the flowers to make it Marsh Lousewort but proved on further examination to be the common species. Only to encounter rosettes we are fairly sure are of the Marsh species later on:
Marsh Lousewort - yet to flower

In all we managed to record about 80 species we could identify with certainty - a rich area.
But then the deer fence problem thwarted us and we elected to retrace our steps and use the car to get to Steph's meadow from 2007 with "some" Globeflower. My expectation of "some Globeflower", based on experience (with the honourable exception of speciality reserves like Cae Pwll y Bo) is not  for what we found:
Globeflowers near Crai

Our conservative count of plants gave a figure of at least 110. So all in all an exhausting but rewarding day for me and I hope for my companions.