Friday, January 18, 2019

Making a good start to the year

Choosing the right day for a botanical outing is the number one requirement in January and we managed that. It was cold but dry and sunny - ideal.

The outing was inspired by BIS (Biodiversity Information Service for Powys and the Brecon Beacons National Park) who regularly invite us and others to record a 1km square which, as yet, has no records at all. The square for January happened to be in a area we must focus on for botanical records this year so it was a good excuse for an early survey. But, in the spirit of the request, we also put our heads together to record as many of the non-plant living things that we could, adding a further 26 assorted species to our botanical list of over 100 records.

(These included: Reindeer Lichen, Blushing Bracket, King Arthur's Cake Fungus, Common Mole, Tamarisk Moss and we assume Yellow Meadow Ants deep inside the anthills we sat on for our lunch. Birds ably identified by Alan as the rest of us scrabbled in the mud were:  Buzzard, Raven, Crow, Chaffinch, Red Kite, Stonechat, Starling, Blackbird and Mistle Thrush.)

The lunch spot

The view towards Mynydd Troed and Castel Dinas (with The Dragon's Back just in the far right)

One of the many Hawthorns some of which, like this one, were encrusted with several lichens
Hypogymnia tubulosa

Usnea spp. (a Beard Lichen)

Mistletoe, Uchelwydd or Viscum album on one of the Hawthorns

And, on the way back to the car, the moon was rising over the ridge between Mynnyd Llysiau and Pen Twyn Glas

Thursday, January 03, 2019

BSBI New Year Plant Hunt number five

We went out on our 5th New Year Plant Hunt last Saturday - technically, according to the calendar, in 2018 - but this was the hunt for 2019 as now defined by the BSBI.

I may as well admit that it was our joint worst performance so far but, as always, it was rewarding and provided useful records beyond the tally of those plants actually managing to flower in the rather adverse conditions.

We saw an awful lot of dandelions before we found the one plant just opening its flowers and this was the general case for most common species. Not a single Hazel in the chosen area was shedding pollen (a requirement to count as "flowering") - but, of course, I saw some fully mature catkins on the way back into Hay by the roadside...

But I choose our areas partly because they are places we need to make more records in and we got to know this under-recorded area well, finding a pretty certain Vicia tetrasperma plant right by Pontsticill dam which will make a first record for the area since 2000.

I hope to see something like this in a revisit at flowering time:
Smooth Tare Ffacbysen lefn or Vicia tetrasperma (from the Gwent Levels)

I photographed this from the dam wall base to examine further in the pub at lunch:
Cat's-ear Melynydd or Hypochaeris radicata

We also saw an undoubtedly planted Berberis darwinii or Darwin's Barberry in the reservoir car park - with one flower (which helped identification).

The dam has a spooky "Bell-mouth spillway" - there must be a horror story involving one of these !

I have a video including the sound even a small amount of overflow creates here:

Bell-mouth Spillway video

Our previous hunts:

Builth 2015 (19 flowering)
Llangorse 2016 (19 again)
Ystradgynlais 2017 (18)
Crickhowell 2018 (53 - we will probably never surpass this!)
Pontsticill 2019 (well last days of 2018 really!) - this blog (18)

There have been eight altogether since the event started and "we" have participated in five. (Myself in four.)