Saturday, July 14, 2018

Hotter and hotter

The hot weather had started when we went to waterfall country so thankfully we had some cover a lot of the time from trees and occasionally got near enough the waterfalls to feel their cooling effect. A good and varied list was obtained. Cow-wheat perhaps being a highlight in the woodland:
Common Cow-wheat, Gliniogai or Melampyrum pratense

And we found this one Helleborine - unfortunately snapped off before flowering...
Broad-leaved Helleborine, Y galdrist lydanddail or Epipactis helleborine

And the Sgwd Clun-gwyn waterfall had an out of reach display of, we thought, Mimulus...
Our BSBI Field meeting (recording) was held on a very hot Saturday and a very good list was gathered by the experts for an area not recorded at all recently.
This included a fern I am yet to be adept at spotting. The field where we saw this had plenty though and I think I now have it for the future. This location was disappointing for richness but luckily the second site we had selected for the afternoon made up for that.

Narrow Buckler-fern, Marchredynen gul or Dryopteris carthusiana

We even saw this county rarity on the way up to the farm we were targeting:
Sheep's-bit, Clefryn or Jasione montana

And the next Tuesday saw us at a normally extremely wet location on the Epynt where the Cilieni river rises.
Conditions were perfect for this exploration with only minor squelchiness underfoot most of the way.
Examining Marsh fern - a Brecknock rarity.
Marsh Fern, Rhedynen y gors or Thelypteris palustris 

And we all agreed the more rare member of the, ubiquitous in Brecknock, Cotton-grass genus was the most well-groomed and classy one.
Broad-leaved Cottongrass, Plu’r gweunydd llydanddail or Eriophorum latifolium

Then a few days later two of us explored a lane or two in an under recorded area near Llanwrtyd Wells, finding this on a Heart of Wales railway line bridge
Pale Toadflax, Llin-y-llyffant gwelw or Linaria repens 

We found a few surprising casuals to add to the list near this very deep ford on the river Irfon. The road is a public road but with warnings. There must be times when the ford is impassable to all but the biggest all-terrain vehicles.

In the afternoon we explored a little of a high common nearby - which turned out to be incredibly  dry with only a little dampness at the bottom of obviously normally wet gullies. But Skullcap was bravely completing its mission nonetheless.
Lesser Skullcap, Cycyllog bach or Scutellaria minor 

And it wasn't the ideal conditions for exploring an area of very early mining activity on the south of Llangattock Mountain for the next outing.
This is where the second lowest seam of the South Wales coalfield outcropped on the plateau and the scene of early coal extraction. The remaining cliff supported a lush community that obviously still had access to moisture unlike the spoil tips nearby. (Bilberry, Heather and not a lot else though.)
Botanising a dry industrial heritage landscape

But there were compensations such as:
Small Cudweed, Edafeddog fach or Filago minima

And nearer the cars a big surprise - Bell Heather has not been seen in the area for a very long time. In fact there is an almost Brecknock-shaped hole in its distribution map.
Bell Heather, Grug y mêl or Erica cinerea

Sue and Keith, not out with the botany group, managed another find that is a first for the 10km square where found:
Sand Spurrey, Troellig arfor coch or Spergularia rubra

And, most recently, Steph and I spent a day with Ray Woods near where he lives with the excellent result that he was able to lead us straight to the richest areas and another very long list was obtained (again for an area not recently recorded). The definite highlight was a very large population of...
Ivy-leaved Bellflower, Clychlys dail eiddew or Wahlenbergia hederacea

… and quite a lot of it was this pure white form:

Just visible in the Sphagnum - blue form again.

Just one of the many other choice plants we encountered.
Round-leaved Sundew, Gwlithlys or Drosera rotundifolia 
(Note that the top right leaf has a catch...)

(Collecting Callitriche brutia)
Thanks for these, Anne, (I think!)
Photographing Small Cudweed

Monday, June 25, 2018

And then we...

There's been a lot of activity recently and little time to document it beyond, of course, making sure the records are right and entered up properly.

So this is a roundup.

We explored all around the area below the Gospel Pass in two visits - to one of the farms as well as to Darren Lloyd itself and the common below it.

One of your first encounters worth recording was this - just discernable in the picture - abundance of "something white" in a field below us - which turned out to be the densest population of Pignut I have ever seen.
Pignut, Cneuen y ddaear or Conopodium majus - from afar

We found Lemon-scented fern in one of the flushes on the mountain side - and again at the farm.
Lemon-scented Fern, Rhedynen bêr y mynydd or Oreopteris limbosperma

This, I am reliably informed is part of a "nivation cirque" high on the slopes of Darren Lloyd. (A mountainside hollow - or Corrie formed by snow, not ice.)

Anyway it was home to some good species including Oak Fern.
Oak Fern, Rhedynen dridarn or Gymnocarpium dryopteris

Both Oak and closely related Limestone Fern are found at height in this area - eg at Tarren yr Esgob I later discovered and at first we were unsure which we had here...

The farm had a lovely meadow with many good species all over it.

Including this:
Marsh Arrowgrass, Saethbennig y gors or Triglochin palustris (Triglochin palustre) 

And much more:

We got quite high up Darren Lloyd.

Where this was growing in the open moorland - not woodland as is more common for the species.
Common Cow-wheat, Gliniogai or Melampyrum pratense 


Other highlights of the last weeks' efforts:
Heath Spotted-orchid, Tegeirian brych y rhos or Dactylorhiza maculata 
At Llangorse and photographed 'cos they looked nice. (We welcomed the Wildflower Society to Llangorse to look around at its riches.)

This Brecknock rarity in flower there:
Round-fruited Rush, Brwynen ffrwythgron or Juncus compressus 

Tim Rich came to Allt Rhongyr Nature Reserve to explore the cliffs for rare Whitebeams and Hawkweeds. The whole area was enveloped in cloud that day and members of the group were very enthusiastic and intrepid in the conditions.

Sorbus leptophylla at Allt Rhongyr

I checked up on some earlier in the year encouters near Halfway when in the area.
This Fragrant Agrimony, Agrimonia procera just flowering but thirsty.
 As was a Broad-leaved Helleborine not far away.

And finally - I explored some lanes around Llywel as the area needed more recording effort a few days ago. I have a tendency if walking a winding lane / upland to "just see what's round the next corner" / "just get over the next brow" so came across this rose just outside the target area - it wasn't the only thing I recorded out of target square - after all it's not really about squares on maps...
Sherard's Downy-rose, Rhosyn Sherard or Rosa sherardii 

Friday, June 08, 2018

Bits and bobs and some woodland scrambling

Over the Hay Festival I didn't do much formal recording but did note down significant plants and flowers I spotted while out on walks with family or even when walking between the festival site and home.

Alan Salter has been doing better than this though as voluntary warden of The Byddwn Nature Reserve near Brecon where he is gradually adding to the list we already have of plants that grow there.

One of his latest finds, not recorded for the area for 45 years, was this and the picture he sent shows very clearly that the defining three-nerved structure of the leaves is repeated on the sepals (the green parts behind the petals).
Three-nerved Sandwort, Tywodlys teirnerf or Moehringia trinervia (photo: Alan Salter)

This approach to recording is a good one. General recording goes through an area and passes on - sometimes we come back at another time of year but you cannot get absolutely everything at one or two visits.

I did follow up a report of Marsh Orchids giving a good display at Llangorse near the Bird Hide and enjoyed my visit to the meadows, picking up a few other species not recorded even when a whole bunch of botanists came for a meeting two years ago.

The orchids were very varied in character and I am loath to be too definitive yet on exactly which species they were but here is one with tentative identification:

Southern (?) Marsh-orchid, Tegeirian-y-gors gogleddol or Dactylorhiza praetermissa

Then our next "big outing" was to woodland near the Wye at Llyswen.

We refound Green Hellebore, last recorded many years ago, but failed to find another rarity that used to be there. There was plenty to enjoy and record though with few pictures being taken until the afternoon when we stopped for a break near a magnificent Oak Pollard we came across. By then two of our number had departed.

We also came across some small tree saplings that were probably we thought suckers and were just edging towards deciding they must be Aspen when we found the parent tree - quite a distance from the first sucker we saw. This is the principal way in which Aspen spreads I think.

A short discussion on the certainty of some leaves we found being Moschatel was cut short when we found a fruiting flower head that certainly confirmed it. (Three of the five flowers don't seem to have produced successful fruit.)
Moschatel fruits, Mwsglys or Adoxa moschatellina

And the Yellow Pimpernel patches were lovely:
Yellow Pimpernel, Gwlyddyn melyn Mair or Lysimachia nemorum

There were also carpets of Woodruff and near the end of our exploration we came upon this "Ferny Dell" that the photograph doesn't do full justice to.