Sunday, August 24, 2014

Expected and Unexpected finds

The week started with the unexpected: on a walk to stretch our legs around the block in Hay last Sunday I spotted this right next to the pavement as we passed the Medical Packaging factory near the Meadows.
Autumn Lady's-tresses, Troellig yr hydref or Spiranthes spiralis

This is rarely seen in the county but I suspect may be under-recorded. Now is the time to watch out for it in short turf. But obviously the mower and sheep are its mortal enemies - there could well be places (like this in Hay) where it grows but rarely gets to present a spike for long. The insignificant rosette of basal leaves has withered by the time the flowering spike emerges.

So for my eagle-eyed helpers here is a better picture of one from Uphill near Weston-super-Mare to show what to look out for:

Then after the volunteers picnic at Allt Rhongyr (BWT reserve) we did a walk around the reserve and spotted the significant number of white-variant Devil's Bit Scabious in amongst the swards of the normal blue variety:
Devil's-bit Scabious, Tamaid y cythraul or Succisa pratensis at Allt Rhongyr

Nearly back at the cars we were very pleased to find a second site for the reserve's signature plant:
Autumn Gentian, Crwynllys yr hydref or Gentianella amarella at Allt Rhongyr

But when two of us went to Brechfa Pool to answer the question put to me by a visitor a week earlier: "what is that growing out in the deeper water", I was humbled to find that it was actually just Soft Rush with some Marsh Bedstraw amongst it. Good to establish the answer but not the "interesting sedge" my less-than youthful eyesight had me hoping for. 
Soft-rush or Juncus effusus in wetter than normal conditions

We then did a four mile circular walk through the lanes and byways around Brechfa and the common above the pool, generating a good and varied list of records including this Broad-leaved Helleborine by a roadside:
Broad-leaved Helleborine, Y galdrist lydanddail or Epipactis helleborine

And I finally got the shot I wanted of Bittersweet:
Bittersweet, Elinog or Solanum dulcamara

Finally on Friday I joined a BSBI group very much with an expectation in mind for what we should find as we were looking for the Bog Orchid near Pont ar Elan. Populations fluctuate from year to year (and are never very high).

So it was a relief after many flushes had been examined in detail high and low by a large number of BSBI botanists to finally hear the call from Gillian Foulkes that one was found. It turned out that this - with an associated non-flowering plant and one smaller spike were all we were going to see of this in the whole day.
Bog Orchid, Tegeirian bach y gors or Hammarbya paludosa
One of the tiny flowers close-up. They are upside-down compared to most orchids.
The basal leaves  with small bulbils fringing the edge.

This species does grow in Brecon (and Paul Green confirmed one site last year) but I have yet to see it in my county. It will be tricky to spot if plants are the size of the smaller (more typical ?) one we found at Elan:

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