Friday, July 26, 2013

This and that

The orchid verge on the A438 near Brecon is probably quite well known now - and the display of Common spotted orchids has been impressive even from a passing car again this year - but how many have stopped (parking carefully) to visit the Marsh Hellborines?

They were looking perfect last Tuesday as I did my stint recording this verge for the RVNR scheme. The ground was superficially quite parched but I imagine there must be ground water available in the bank for them to cope with this situation so well:

Epipactis palustris, Marsh Helleborine by the A438

There is true Wild Parsnip on the opposite verge also:

Pastinaca sativa, Wild Parsnip - also on the A438

Then on Wednesday I revisited the area of one of my first blog posts this year when Paul Green helped me find (well found) the only known population of Cornish Moneywort in Brecknockshire:

A tiny flower but worth seeing. Sibthorpia europaea, Cornish Moneywort.

The area was quite interesting for other species also - with the tiniest examples of Lesser Skullcap I have ever seen:

Scutellaria minor, Lesser Skullcap
Bog Asphodel nearby
And Sundew in flower.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A hot week

... So several small excursions and one attempt at a major one !

I started the week with a quick check of an RVNR (Roadside Verge nature Reserve) for its volunteer - mainly to help with grasses which meant a full bag of specimens and a session with the books and lens / microscope when I got back as my grass identification isn't that instant yet. It was nice to see Wild Basil flowering there (near Bwlch):

It wasn't far from there to a known Brecon site for Dwarf Elder so I called in to see this:

Remember, this is something to watch out for in your local lanes.

Then I went to Berthlwyd Farm - the site of Brecon's Coronation meadow and not generally open to the public - where I spent an enjoyable morning in a damp meadow with a wealth of interesting species but no Globeflower that I could find. This might well be somewhere on the farm though and has been seen in the past. We are hoping to arrange a recording day there next year. It was good to see Sedum telephium, Orpine in a hedgerow there:

Not flowering yet but an unmistakeable stately plant.

Then on Friday, Andy Jones - rare plant expert at [what was CCW] - came along to Llangors Lake with me to see and check the Juncus compressus, Round-fruited rush that grows near Llangasty:

There was Ivy-leaved duckweed there also - a first for me:

Lemna trisulca

...and the grass sward along the lake side was carpeted with the Creeping-jenny, Lysimachia nummularia that I featured last week. There was plenty of interest here for our meeting in August.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Here and There and Learning

On Tuesday Steph Coates and I met up with Selwyn Eagle to have a look at the Llynfi flowing out of Llangors Lake. There is plenty of interest (and more to come hopefully) there for our planned meeting in August.

One elusive plant for me has been Creeping Jenny, the big sister of  Yellow Pimpernel that adorns so many of our woodland rides in spring. I must have overlooked it before now but there was an unmistakeable patch flowering well for my first properly recognised sighting.

Creeping-jenny, Lysimachia nummularia

There was Oenanthe fistulosa or Tubular Water-dropwort in the not-very-wet-at-this-time meadow as well - a good reminder for us of the look and feel of this one.

Then I took a catch up trip to Vicarage Meadows to just get the Small-white orchid before its flowers had completely disappeared:

Good to see that but also to have the opportunity to take a leisurely lunch in a meadow with abundant other orchids as well as Wood Bitter-vetch and Dyer's Greenweed.

Here is an example of a Greater Butterfly orchid "among" some Wood Bitter-vetch.

Then on Thursday four of us set out to explore the limestone above Ystradfellte. We all agreed it was an ideal place for the weather and we saw great views and recorded many species. Maybe nothing very spectacular (and the grazing is heavy on this common) but plenty of conundrums to take home and work out. It's all about learning and there is always more to discover - like the fact that Fairy Flax can grow low down in the grass under grazing pressure in a way that looks for all the world like a particularly pretty Sagina. (Pearlworts / Sagina are not renowned for this!) Then there were the mystery leaves in the turf we couldn't identify at first that turned out the be Harebell. We did see one flower of this in the whole expedition.

I took pictures only of the landscape:

 An erratic amongst limestone
 Limestone pavement
Looking towards Corn Du

Friday, July 05, 2013

A Busy Week

The RVNR scheme is a good way to get involved with botany in your county and helping Gareth with his stretch of road delivered some good finds and a splendid showing of Green Alkanet. We also had both Bryonies and some struggling Long-stalked Cranesbill.
Pentaglottis sempervirens, Green Alkanet

Then showing a colleague around at Traeth Mawr (part of Daudraeth Illtyd Nature Reserve) the best of many interesting finds was Baldellia ranunculoides, Lesser Water-plantain:

Baldellia ranunculoides, Lesser Water-plantain

And then, on Thursday a good session at Brechfa Pool turned up a good list of notable species and this horror:
New Zealand Pigmyweed, Crassula helmsii
- which was starting to form large mats that have the potential to choke out the rare plants. Rest assured that BWT will be on the case.

The cage installed earlier in the year had brought on some nice Marsh Foxtail plants but wasn't working for the Pennyroyal - another cage will be put in at another location where there is less grass competition to continue the experiment to allow the plant to develop better. 

We found some Mudwort - quite a rare plant and plenty of Pillwort as well as strong Pennyroyal plants and also were treated, under Mike Porter's expert guidance, to an in-the-field Water-crowfoot identification class. (many nectaries were looked at through a lens and discussed.)

Pond Water-crowfoot

Common Water-crowfoot

Ivy-leaved Crowfoot

Round-leaved Crowfoot (Not photographed last week but it was present at Brechfa)