Thursday, December 06, 2018

Old Railway and a Tunnel

 A few of us set out with permission (it's private land) to walk from The Byddwn Nature Reserve to the tunnel entrance on the old railway line the reserve occupies part of.

It was a good winter walk and we did record a rare-for-the-county sedge in the wet area near the tunnel so small steps at this time of year towards the Atlas recording project that mainly occupies us.

The tunnel is now a haven for bats and is locked so we obviously didn't go in.

The semi-bridge for the Mill Stream that is part of the reserve. 

I say semi-bridge as it is substantial on this side and just a culvert on the other...

The tunnel on the Hereford, Hay and Brecon Railway

This part of the railway followed the course of the 1816 Hay Railway, a tram-road worked by horses connecting the town of Hay with the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal at Brecon. This tunnel required widening and deepening for use by standard gauge trains. The original 674-yard long tunnel opened on May 7, 1816 as part of the Brecon to Hay tramway.

A peek inside - remarkable how modern cameras can pick up more than the eye can see,

And totally unrelated - a trip to Yorkshire via Hayfield has me photographing all around this very patient and still heron on the River Kinder at Hayfield...

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Mission accomplished

There are still useful botanical searches to do at this time of year, as I explained to the landowner when asking permission to go on his land (he wondered why I wasn't interested in his Hay meadow orchids - which I will be next summer).

Our target, Rough Horsetail, is wintergreen and a Rare Plant Register plant for the county. It was last seen at this site in 1992; we have a new site discovered in 2017 below Pen y Fan. There is one more potential site for re-finding it - last seen there in 1985.

It was a lovely day for a walk up Cusop Dingle, just the other side of the Welsh Border, for the walk up to the farm entrance, which immediately crosses the Dulas Brook and thus got us back into Wales.

We enjoyed discussing and recognising some of the varied leaves on the banks alongside the farm track - plenty more to record when we return in the summer! The woodland around a tributary of the Dulas was easy to access and not too bad to get through. We found what we were looking for after a few hundred yards of roughish woodland dingle walk along the stream:
Our new BSBI Welsh Officer, Barbara, photographing the Rough Horsetail after crossing the stream to see it closer. We soon found other clumps on the side we had started on.

This picture of the Dulas Brook in Cusop Dingle was taken some time go:

It was nice to see this flowering in November under the trees.
Wild Angelica, Llysiau’r angel or Angelica sylvestris

And here is the target plant:
Rough Horsetail, Marchrawnen y gaeaf or Equisetum hyemale

We returned via Offa's Dyke Path and noted more Hawthorns on that route with mistletoe than I had seen before.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

A great day out

It's not too late to be recording botany at all as we proved on the last day of October.
Joan views a Brecon Mountain Railway train with the Brecon Beacons to the left. (Picture by Sue)

The walk up to the common had been rewarding - here is another view of Corn Du, Pen y Fan and Cribyn.

And the Mountain Railway Train again!

The botany was good as well with a fairly long list for the time of year.

A couple of highlights:
Parsley-piert, Troed y dryw or Aphanes arvensis

Common Whitlowgrass (probably), Llysiau’r-bystwn ar or Erophila verna agg.

None of us photographed this - but we did see it in flower:
Mouse-ear-hawkweed, Clust y llygoden or Pilosella officinarum (Was known as Hieracium pilosella)

Always a welcome sight.

But it was cold a lot of the time (new wooly hat)
Sue's picture again

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Recent Highlights

I've been slow to update this recently so here is a mainly pictorial summary of the highlights from the last few months.
Wild Angelica, Llysiau’r angel or Angelica sylvestris from a wet woodland near Brecon.

Good hunting on the Epynt finding many plants not seen elsewhere in the 10km square.
Including this spotted very late in the season by Steph:
Flea Sedge or Carex pulicaris

And who knew what gems lay in wait alongside the apparently featureless road from the Beacons reservoir towards Penderyn. We need to explore in the middle of the year in future years.
Mossy Saxifrage and Hawkweeds on a ledge in an abandoned limestone quarry.

With great views as well...
Creeping Willow, Corhelygen or Salix repens high up above Aber flowering "out of time".

My break in Ireland

Sika Deer - common near Glengarriff in West Cork I am told (but still rarely seen).

Western Gorse, Eithinen fân or Ulex gallii which is common with us but seems to have much finer needles in West Cork.

And of course
Fuchsia, Ffiwsia or Fuchsia magellanica adorning the West Cork hedgerows.

Variegated Chestnut
I'm assuming this is a variety of Sweet Chestnut, Castanwydden bêr or Castanea sativa. In any case the warden we spoke to at the John F Kennedy Arboretum was very proud of this tree and wanted us especially to seek it out. The collection there is magnificent and this is very worthwhile place to visit in County Wexford. We have passed by for over 40 years! We also saw a Red Squirrel there.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Round up

Two of us made the climb up to Llyn Cwm Lwch under Corn Ddu - well worth it for the lake itself.

The views were great as we climbed and we saw many birches - some if which I am sure are the Iberian Birch that has only been realised to be common in Wales in the last few decades.
Iberian White Birch or Betula celtiberica

The lake had some interesting species growing around it and masses of this growing in it.
Delicate Stonewort or Chara virgata

I thought Chara vulgaris - Common Stonewort but I was wrong - thanks referee Nick Stewart for putting me right and explaining you wouldn't get that in this sort of lake. [update 3/1/19]

We collected samples of Blinks which was common and this one flowered on my windowsill. Its seeds look to be Montia fontana subs. fontana. The tiny flowers are hardly ever this well open in the wild.
Blinks, Porpin y ffynnon or Montia fontana

The next outing was to the riverside and woodland at Abercraf, yielding a long list with many ferns. eg
Borrer's Male-fern or Dryopteris borreri (Dryopteris affinis subsp. borreri)

Then by the New River in Cheshunt, north of London I noticed a population of this which is also spreading along the Brecon Canal - obviously a favoured environment for the plant.
Bristly Oxtongue, Tafod-y-llew gwrychog or Helminthotheca echioides (Picris echioides) 

Several of spent a day helping Steph survey some fields near Allt Rhongyr that are of interest and we found a long list of plants including this which isn't seen at all often in Brecknock:
Small Toadflax, Trwyn-y-llo bach or Chaenorhinum minus 

The fungi were abundant andChris, who was with us, was able to name most of them.
Blusher or Amanita rubescens

I called in at Cae Egwys reserve on my way to an area near Upper Chapel and this new species for the reserve was flowering. This is the agricultural species of Flax and probably derives from that source but may establish at the reserve, you never know.
Flax, Llin or Linum usitatissimum

My recording near Upper Chapel included a stint on this old byway - now a bridle path.

Not a lot seems to be known about this, obviously once important, route. It starts at Sarnau near Llandefaelog and ends at the border of the Epynt Army Range. But old maps from before the range was there also show it going up to the uplands and stopping so the Range isn't the reason for the ending. In the distance can be seen Ffynnon-oer (Cold Spring?) and the road carrying on round the hill that has Gaer Fach at its summit. Further south the route passes by Battle Hill.
The old route passing Gaer Fach and Ffynnon-oer

This was one quite surprising find in the valley below the area shown above.
Wood Horsetail, Marchrawnen y coed or Equisetum sylvaticum 

And this was right where I parked the car.
Red Bartsia, Gorudd or Odontites vernus 

Then, helping Steph again with Local Wildlife Sites, we saw a wide variety of wet woodland pasture plants and other gems in open pasture near Llangammarch Wells
Rostkov's Eyebright, Effros blodau mawr or Euphrasia officinalis subsp. pratensis or Euphrasia rostkoviana

Fen Bedstraw, Briwydd y fign or Galium uliginosum
Most things weren't actually flowering though but quite identifiable.

Other botanical finds recently have included:
Green Spleenwort, Duegredynen werdd or Asplenium viride
Found by Anne at Craig y Cilau - first record for the area for quite a while.

Field Scabious, Clafrllys y maes or Knautia arvensis
Not common these days in Brecknock (and very like the commoner-for-us Small Scabious found at eg Allt Rhongyr). Steph found this on the Brecon canal bank.

And lastly an oddity. This turned out to simply be the common Figwort minus flower colouring - but for a while we thought possibly something more exciting.
Common Figwort, Gwrnerth or Scrophularia nodosa - not it's usual colour at all!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Far and Wide

Back in mid July we explored near the head of Cwm Senni with a long list obtained. The highlight was probably approaching this display, which we don't often see in Brecknock.
Hedge Bedstraw, Briwydd y clawdd or Galium album (Galium mollugo as was)
There were lovely floriferous meadows near the Afon Senni itself:

Then two of us attempted a longish walk in the Rhiwnant Valley (south of Caban-coch Reservoir, Elan). The day was much hotter than forecast!

My co-recorder had already recorded this and we hoped to find further populations higher up the valley but failed on that quest.
White Beak-sedge, Corsfrwynen wen or Rhynchospora alba

But there was plenty else to see and record including Sundew in flower.
Round-leaved Sundew, Gwlithlys or Drosera rotundifolia

Then I was over to France for a week to join family but couldn't help spotting some notable flora.
Field Eryngo, Celynnen y maes or Eryngium campestre

This is very rare on our south coast but I saw it in two channel coastal locations there on road verges and the top of sea-cliffs. Obviously it is a relative of Sea Holly which is a common enough coastal sight in the British Isles.

The Foret Domaniale d'Hesdin was impressive and we would have done a longer walk in cooler (less than 35°C) conditions. It is dominated by huge Beeches with a substantial population of Hornbeam as well.
And we stumbled on this (three sites in Brecknock) delight.
Dwarf Elder, Danewort, Ysgawen Fair or Sambucus ebulus

and a Thistle I didn't know until I looked it up. It's a rare casual in the UK.
Cabbage Thistle, Ysgallen dail bresych or Cirsium oleraceum

On return a group of us did a linear walk from Pentre-bach north of Sennybridge to Llywel on the A40. It's a lovely well-marked bridle way to start with but less easy to find at the end!

With varied habitats along the route we got a good list of species. This patch of Cudweed was notable for its density.
Marsh Cudweed, Edafeddog y gors or Gnaphalium uliginosum

And right in the middle of the walk on the upland common the nearly dried up stream was supporting a large population of a Water-crowfoot that I have yet to ID properly. Hopefully my sample will produce flowers in captivity or there will be a long walk next year to see this in more normal conditions. The population we saw was notable for the complete lack of normal laminar leaves.

Common Water-crowfoot? Crafanc-y-frân y dŵr or Ranunculus aquatilis?

The next outing took us to the areas around the Afon Llia - which is the stream near the standing stone Maen Llia.
Maen Llia photographed some time ago.

Thankfully this area was not completely dry (we felt the local sheep were relatively lucky) and there were patches of this fern near the streams.
Lemon-scented Fern, Rhedynen bêr y mynydd or Oreopteris limbosperma

There was plenty to record here where we had our lunch including Alternate Water-milfoil.
But not flowering as profusely as this example from Traeth Mawr.
Alternate Water-milfoil, Myrdd-ddail blodau bob yn ail or Myriophyllum alterniflorum

We noticed these rocks with a thin algal growth and bubbles formed on them in the sun.

Right by the parking place this cropped up - it's all over the county now!
Sand Spurrey, Troellig arfor coch or Spergularia rubra

Then two of us visited Gilfach Reserve (Radnor Wildlife Trust) for a glorious day looking at lichens and doing a small amount of recording for the reserve. It's good to get out of county occasionally!

Blood-spot Lichen or Ophioparma ventosa

And a few days ago I had some time to kill in Hereford where a walk along the Wye revealed this magnificent example of Mistletoe on a Black Poplar:
Mistletoe, Uchelwydd or Viscum album