Saturday, September 27, 2014


Botany is not really my priority for a while as we enjoy excellent weather in Bantry Bay. Also I don't have my photo-processing software here so these are out of the camera preview pictures which I will update when I have them topped and tailed at home.

A quick stop on the way over at the old Chetwynd viaduct near Cork that last carried a train in 1950s. There's a cafe...

Bere Island - once a defence station for the UK and still inhabited
A shopping trolley joins three cars (one mine) on the ferry
A British gun still in place
Rocks covered in lichen and Sea-spurrey / Thrift
Gateposts that have lost their way
Golden Rod - still a delight in the lanes

I saw lots of botany but little in get-the-camera-out state as it is so dry. It took me a while to recognise dessicated Purple Loose-strife - everywhere in ground that must normally be wet but isn't now.

At the heritage centre I saw and purchased a new book - "The Wild Plants of Bere, Dursey, Whiddy and other islands in Bantry Bay" which will be a great stimulus for further exploration here. Pleased to see that I had spotted many of the featured species for Bere - even if dessicated and past flowering.

Plantago coronopus - Buck's Horn Plantain rosette 
Golden Rod and DBS in the lanes
There were five cars / vans going back - just possible and hemming me in my drivers seat as "the one in middle". You reverse onto this ferry - which is just something you pick up from observation !

Then yesterday we got to Whiddy Island just near Bantry where I chased up a site from the book - Asplenium onopteris - Irish Spleenwort which is rare in Ireland and "one of 16" species that occur in Ireland and not Great Britain. There is some doubt about the true identity of this population I gather and I haven't got a fern book with me but this looks like the thing. There were some plants that seemed like Black Spleenwort (which we do have) nearby.

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Reserve and a Long Walk

Early last week we assembled to explore the southern part of the new Ystradfawr BWT reserve. There was plenty to see and determine, including two species of Cotoneaster that had established themselves in the wet woodland.

The marshy grassland also had plenty to see including a relative rarity for the county:
Smooth Tare, Ffacbysen lefn or Vicia tetrasperma

And, on an old mining spoil heap we encountered a large population of a plant new to all of us:
Pearly Everlasting Edafeddog hirhoedlog Anaphalis margaritacea

It's where we had lunch - enjoying the view and speculating what it might be. It wasn't in any of the books we had with us but we felt sure was a close relative of the daisy family members like Cudweed and Mountain Everlasting. It turned out, after I had made the identification back home, that Mike Porter had found and identified it in the area in 1970...

There were severl Rose Galls to marvel at as well:
Bedeguar gall, Robin's Pin Cushion or Diplolepis rosae

Then on Thursday three of us set out from the end of a narrow road north from Gurnos to explore a little one of the remotest areas of the county (indeed of England and Wales). This, of necessity, meant striding out to get our target location and not adopting the usual botanists 0.01 mph for the first 100m but we soon encountered some wet ground that required a short stop to take in Square-stalked St John's Wort and Marsh Violet. Then later, crossing the Gwys Fach a longer stop was required to record several species including Lesser Skullcap and Ivy-leaved Bellflower. So by the time we had reached the upper Gwys Fawr valley, over some very tussocky ground for parts of the way, there wasn't a lot of time for the thorough scouring of the square we had planned. But we extended the list quite a bit here before turning back to reach the car in good time for dusk.
The Gwys Fawr Valley and headwaters

The Gwys Fawr Stream (photo by Sue Goodhead)

Round-leaved Sundew, Gwlithlys or Drosera rotundifolia (photo by Sue Goodhead)

Ivy-leaved Bellflower, Clychlys dail eiddew or Wahlenbergia hederacea

All in all it was a good day for our first venture into the area (which is the very broad "back" of the Black Mountain). In a future year we need to plan a long day in midsummer for more exploration of the area and the hope of confirming even more that hasn't been recorded since the 1980s.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Here and there

Several outings last week with still plenty to see and record.

First I took a visitor to Cae Pwll y Bo and Vicarage Meadows BWT Reserves. Cae Pwll y Bo had been cut but evidence of the Globeflower population wasn't hard to find among the cut herbage. And around the edge several other species were in evidence including this Hemp-nettle:
Common Hemp-nettle or Y benboeth hollt, Galeopsis tetrahit

More usually the flower background colour is white in my experience so this was a showier example but still the common species as labelled above. The less common "Bifid Hemp-nettle" has the darker markings in the centre extending to the edge of the lip.

The in Vicarage Meadows there was plenty to see, but not all of the species flowering. However this was:
Saw-wort or Dant y pysgodyn, Serratula tinctoria

Then a tour around several sites that required various checks - at the Digedi Valley Road Verge Nature Reserve we saw abundant Hairy St John's-wort along a good stretch of the road (outside the reserve are as well as in) together with a good show of Wild Basil.
Wild Basil or Brenhinllys gwyllt, Clinopodium vulgare

Hairy St John's-wort or Eurinllys blewog, Hypericum hirsutum
(Not photographed last week - they had finished flowering.)

Nearby at another RVNR the "Autumn Crocus" was putting on a very good show. The verge mowing apparently being exactly to specifications for this plant. It's not a crocus so the "correct" common name is given below. It is also known as "Naked Ladies".
Meadow Saffron or Saffrwm y ddôl, Colchicum autumnale

Then on the morning of the BWT 50th anniversary celebrations a group of BWT members met up for a guided walk at Allty Rhongyr where the timing would normally be spot on for seeing flowering Autumn Gentian but this was well-over at both sites where it is now known at the reserve.

We did make a new species record for the reserve though:
Entire-leaved Cotoneaster Cotoneaster cyfanddail Cotoneaster integrifolius

Not a happy find as this can become a real nuisance in limestone scree habitats such as this so this will have to be dug up! 

One of the participants particularly wanted to see the Rock-rose that grows at Allt Rhongyr. We soon found plentiful plants to show but it took a long a little longer to find the one solitary flower still showing !
Common Rock-rose or Cor-rosyn cyffredin, Helianthemum nummularium