Friday, August 30, 2013

Pottering about

A week of minor activities. Cantref Pond was interesting - it needs some management which is why the residents who co-own it wanted advice from Brecknock Wildlife Trust but the flora is an odd mixture. The pond is old (on 1800's maps) but has presumably been through some changes of management style over the years.

 Steph examining the fauna
 Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani, Grey Club-rush (probably)
A water scorpion

The botanical survey revealed Lemna trisulca amongst a small variety of water plants and also the Schoenoplectus species pictured above that hadn't read the book and hence is a little uncertain. Probably as labelled though.

On Tuesday Steph and I visited several RVNRs looking for their notable species (and finding all but an elusive Hairy Saint John's Wort). We then popped into Llangasty to brush up on Persicarias - resulting in some updated pictures for last week's blog.

And then on Wednesday I "popped" into Allt Rhongyr Nature Reserve to be treated to a really good display from over 100 Autumn Gentians:

(And see picture at the head of this post.)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Llangors Lake (Llyn Syfaddon)

It was the largest lake in Wales before Lake Bala's level being raised by Thomas Telford so we could not hope to cover the whole shoreline on Thursday but we did get to explore a restricted area, thanks to permission from the Brecon Beacons Park Authority.

This proved to be well worth doing as we found one new species for the county and re-found several that are not often seen.

It was also our best turnout this year (a joint meeting with BWT and my recording group) so we split into two groups each with a really good botanist as Paul Green and Mike Porter were both with us.

In all we found 220 different species and made 333 records. We were treated to a great show of the Knotweed family with five species of Persicaria all in close association and including Persicaria mitis, or Tasteless Water-pepper* Persicaria minor, Small Water-pepper which has not been seen there since 1975. It was Paul who spotted this and the rest of us then were able to find more plants once we "had our eye in". I am doubtful we would have spotted this otherwise (Mike was in the other group !). Heather confirmed for us that is was indeed tasteless.
Persicaria minor, Small Water-pepper
Again, Persicaria minor, Small Water-pepper

Here are some of the others:
Redshank, Persicaria maculosa

Water-pepper, Persicaria hydropiper

Another good find was Needle Spike Rush, Eleocharis acicularis:

Among other highlights were finding five different Duckweeds (aided by Paul's expertise):
Lemna gibba, Fat Duckweed
Lemna minuta, Least Duckweed
Lemna trisulca, Ivy-leaved Duckweed
Lemna turionifera, Red Duckweed and
Spirodela polyrhiza, Greater Duckweed

Lemna gibba, Fat Duckweed (not taken on Thursday)

* Yes there was a blunder in the original identification. Anyone who cares to ask can have the gory details - it wasn't typical P. minor but then it wasn't P. mitis either. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mainly wet places

Here are two more pictures from Traeth Mawr the week before. Thanks to Joan Millard for these !

Three short site visits this week. On Monday I went to the tip of Llangors lake where the Llnfi flows in and saw an abundance of good marginal plants. One was Golden Dock:

Scutellaria galericulata, Skullcap was also abundant but that has been featured here already...

I went to Traeth Bach on Tuesday to see if I could add to the previous Thursday's records from this smaller mire in the same 1km square as Traeth Mawr. So it was good to find Ragged Robin which we hadn't seen the week before as well as very abundant Marsh Cinquefoil at this site and a few other extras. So it was well worth exploring and getting a feel for this area.

I came across one of the springs that feed the bog and filmed it:

Then today, in view of the weather forecast I decided to stay close to home and went up to a site just under Hay Bluff where Pillwort has been recorded in the past. I found three pools with varying amounts of this strange little fern - one of them more lush with it than I have seen before:

The light green sward is Pillwort

In this close up you can just see in the background a leaf unfurling in characteristic fern style...

Other highlights included:

Common heather abundant in less grazed grass

and Lesser Skullcap amongst the Gorse

Friday, August 09, 2013

Plants you don't see often

Early in the week I revisited Talybont reservoir to check some records and extend the area covered. It was a pleasant surprise therefore to find something new in a cleared area by the shore. Climbing Corydalis, Ceratocapnos claviculata isn't rare really but it also isn't something you see every day:
Then we had a good attendance for our Wildflower Society sponsored day at the Brecon Beacons Visitor Centre. We had a good morning at the raised mire - Traeth Mawr nearby seeing several plants you don't see every day in Brecknockshire and three that grow only there in the county. 

This picture from Owen sums up a great day for botanists well:

And here are the plant pictures:
Few-flowered Spike-rush, Eleocharis quinqueflora
Great Fen-sedge, Cladium mariscus
Marsh Pennywort, Hydrocotyle vulgaris - flowers of this common plant which are not so often seen
We missed flowering of the Baldellia ranunculoides but even the fruits are photogenic
A reminder of the flower from an earlier blog post.
We spent the afternoon examining specimens under microscopes provided by Brecon Wildlife Trust and the Biodiversity Information Service (BIS) and confirming identifications using a range of books. 

Friday, August 02, 2013

Rare plants and reservoirs

On Tuesday I joined Jon and Stephen to look for Serrated Wintergreen at Craig Cerrig-gleisiad. I needed their experience and expertise as it is tricky to find in an environment requiring great care:

Be assured we were careful but it was exhausting and it wasn't until we had almost given up that Stephen found it and cautiously took us to it:

Orthila secunda, Serrated Wintergreen somewhat past its best.

It's good to confirm it is still there as it is the only site in Breconshire - or indeed for some area around. This year has been a difficult one for predicting flowering - with many species late and this one early as it turned out.

Stephen Marshall also photographed some other choice plants in the area:
 Parsley fern, Cryptogramma crispa
 Welsh Stonecrop, Sedum forsterianum
Lesser Meadow-rue, Thalictrum minus

Then on Thursday several of us joined Steph on the hottest day of the week for a rewarding continuation of the ongoing examination of the south end of Talybont reservoir. It was a great day for plants with many unexpected ones turning up on the banks of the stream flowing into the reservoir - no doubt because it was bringing limestone influenced water down from above.

See the pictures:
Amphibious Bistort where the Caerfanell enters the reservoir
Small Cudweed
Skullcap - the bigger relative of last week's Lesser Skullcap
Carline Thistle
Upland Enchanter's Nightshade
and finally
... a Foxglove with a serious growth anomaly...