Thursday, July 24, 2014

Catching up

... with reporting what we have been doing. "We" are the Brecnockshire Botanical Recording Group and it's a busy time. So taking my pictures in order:

Two weeks ago we met up with the Monmouthshire Botanical Recording  Group to explore our common border at Tarren yr Esgob (near Capel y Ffin, which means "Chapel on the border"). It was quite a climb / scramble to get up to the botanically-rich crags where the rare Sorbus (Whitebeam) shared by only our two counties grows:
Llanthony Whitebeam or Cerddin Ewyas, Sorbus stenophylla

This is also one of only two Sorbus species so far discovered that are pentaploid (have five sets of chromosomes per cell) - the other grows at Craig y Cilau, also in Brecknockshire.

Up there we encountered many lime-loving plants - in an area where the Geological map does not mark any limestone but there are "calcrete" layers marked nearby. Anyway the vegetation speaks for itself and is finding the water seeping out of the rocks to its taste. This included a fine selection of the more delicate ferns:
Beech Fern or Rhedynen gorniog, Phegopteris connectilis
Limestone Fern or Rhedynen y calchfaen, Gymnocarpium robertianum
(Note these two are growing together in this instance.)
Oak Fern or Rhedynen dridarn, Gymnocarpium dryopteris
... actually seen only in Monmouthshire at Tarren yr Esgob - but this picture is from the Grwyne Fawr Valley in Brecknock which I visited two days later.

And we were pushing our way through large swards of this:
Lemon-scented Fern, Oreopteris limbosperma

Then last week we went to a farm on the banks of the Wye near Hay to walk part of an old railway line and look at some ponds. The species I photographed were:
Welted Thistle or Ysgallen grech, Carduus crispus
I've only knowingly seen this a few times. I suspect I will be recognising it more in the future after Mike Porter pointed this one out.
Blue Water-Speedwell or Graeanllys y dwr, Veronica anagallis-aquatica
(Or maybe a hybrid of the same - Mike Porter is working on that one.)
Chicory or Ysgellog, Cichorium intybus
A solitary plant on the side of a field.
Scentless Mayweed or Amranwen ddi-sawr, Tripleurospermum inodorum
Edging a field planted with a fodder mix.
Slender Knapweed, Centaurea debeauxii
(A newly segregated species that we are only just starting to get to grips with.)
Rigid Hornwort or Cyrnddail caled, Ceratophyllum demersum
In one of the ponds.

... Many more were seen and recorded.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Meadows of all types and a parasite

Last week two of us set out to explore and record at Cwm Cadlan National Nature Reserve - with ambitious plans to go through the reserve; out onto the common and back by another route.

In the event we had hardly got 200 yards from the car by lunchtime - there was so much to spend time on and investigate.

The marshy grassland found at Cwm Cadlan is unusual as lime-rich spring water flows through the reserve, creating alkaline habitats in amongst the more acid ones.

Marsh Lousewort or Melog y waun, Pedicularis palustris was present in the marshy meadow near the entrance in grater numb ers than I have ever seen before. (This isn't a picture from Thursday...)

And we were just in time to catch the last of the Fragrant Orchids - which are also plentiful there:

Fragrant Orchid or Tegeirian pêr, Gymnadenia conopsea - approaching the airfield after a sortie... (this picture was taken on the reserve)

Then on a higher meadow (just below the common) we found several different species of Marsh Orchid, some a little past their best including:
Southern Marsh-orchid or Tegeirian-y-gors deheuol, Dactylorhiza praetermissa.

Many other species were recorded; we covered a third (or less) of the reserve and repeat visits to the area are definitely required.

Then on Friday, Mike alerted me to a good stand of Ivy Broom-rape right in the centre of Brecon which I visited on the way back from our meeting at Berthlwyd Farm on Saturday:
Ivy Broomrape or Gorfanhadlen eiddew, Orobanche hederae in the trees between Brecon Hospital Car Park and the main road.

The joint BSBI / BWT meeting at Berthlwyd Farm went well with 16 of us botanising in meadows full of, in particular, Great Butterfly Orchids.

Picture by Steph Coates

A good list of species was recorded and five of us went to the New Inn in Ystradfellte for Cream Tea afterwards. Some went on to see waterfalls. A great area of the county for all these pursuits.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Grwyne Fechan

Tal-y-maes Bridge
This valley is really well worth a visit if you haven't already and I set out for my first time for me on Thursday in pretty much perfect weather to explore the botany there.

The bridge above is on McNamara's road, which the eponymous landowner apparently had built for better access to the house he had built for his mistress in the valley...

The walk took me through varied country so I saw a good variety of species with at least one that had not been recorded before.

Flush - with scattered Bog Pimpernel, Gwlyddyn-Mair y gors or Anagallis tenella

And this is for members of my recording group who probably feel they are always recording Veronica beccabunga without ever seeing flowers.

I don't often see Sambucus nigra, Elder as a real tree - in fact a tree book I had once disdained the species as "not a true tree".

On other days, apart from wading around in Brecfa Pool (helping control Crassula helmsii - New Zealand Pigmyweed or Corchwyn Seland Newydd), I was mostly photographing the lovely Orchids we are seeing in meadows around Brecknock this year: