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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Out on their own

My botany group are getting much more confident in their plant identification and have started to go out on their own making records for Brecknock.

Some are very intrepid and endure all kinds of bad weather to get their records, so this blog starts with things I wasn't present for.

The area around Neuadd Reservoir (south of Pen y Fan) is relatively unrecorded for the BSBI. So Anne and others set of up there on a pre-arranged day - the forecast did not put them off! (But they were prudent in their preparations and plans of course.)

So the pictures are rather - dull...
And lunch was best taken standing up.
Making the records was difficult in the wet.
This sample was brought back just to make sure - which is just as well as it is the first ever record for the whole 10km square:
Lesser Skullcap, Cycyllog bach or Scutellaria minor
Here from a nicer day somewhere else:

It was only the second time this century that this has been found in the 10km square:
Marsh Lousewort, Melog y waun or Pedicularis palustris
Other great finds - with "library" images:
- again only the second record this century.
Common Fleabane, Cedowydd or Pulicaria dysenterica
- also only the second record this century.

And explorations along the canal near Llangattock turned up this rarity:
Narrow-leaved Water-plantain, Llyriad-y-dŵr culddail or Alisma lanceolatum

Sue has been recording an ancient lane near her and finding a rich and varied list including:
Fringecups, Clychau’r clawdd or Tellima grandiflora
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Meanwhile I was out doing general recording and the like with a few highlights:
Pepper-saxifrage, Ffenigl yr hwch or Silaum silaus
(rather rare) at Llangorse lake meadows.

Finding this which we don't often see:
 Pale Persicaria, Canwraidd y dom or Persicaria lapathifolia
picture Anne Griffiths

 And a valley with a lot of
Carline Thistle, Ysgallen Siarl or Carlina vulgaris

And a tiny:
 Devil's-bit Scabious, Tamaid y cythraul or Succisa pratensis
near a base-rich spring flush and just managing to get a flower out before the sheep notice.

Then last Sunday on a walk I spotted:
 Tasteless Water-pepper, Y dinboeth ddi-flas or Persicaria mitis 
Not recorded much in Wales apart from the Snowdonia park and Monmouthshire. This is the first record we have in our county since one other in 1927 near Coelbren. I was lucky here as there is plenty of the common (Bitter) Water-pepper around and the plant I first saw was quite prominent. But not to be found two days later when I found the one I photographed above. Three more days later it was much harder to discern the P. mitis plants and I doubt I would have spotted them then if not sure they were there. It develops rapidly and changes from day to day!

Sunday, August 04, 2019

A Bog, a Quarry and Limestone Scree

The bog was right on the southern border of Victorian Brecknock.  It was just as well the weather has been dry as it allowed us to explore it thoroughly and find several choice species that were yet to be recorded since 2000, including masses of Marsh Cinquefoil.

Marsh Cinquefoil, Pumnalen y gors or Comarum palustre (Potentilla palustris)
(OK - I cheated - we've missed the good flowers, despite seeing a lot of this species, in Brecknock this year - this from Rhos Goch in Radnorshire a while back...)

This had us temporarily scratching our heads:
Bogbean, Ffeuen y gors or Menyanthes trifoliata

There were plenty of leaves about so we had already recorded it but didn't immediately recognise the fruiting inflorescence.

It was nice to stumble upon this:
Bifid Hemp-nettle, Y benboeth hollt or Galeopsis bifida

Books give the impression this is about as common as Common Hemp-nettle but that isn't my experience - of course for a large part of the year with no flowers it is impossible to tell which species you have. But when they do flower, in my experience, more than 10:1 they are the correctly-named "Common" species. Even the excellent Vegetative Key by John Poland gives up on this one - you need a flower.

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Then a trip back to the disused quarries on the Brecon - Penderyn Road to collect this hopefully to confirm it with the referee.
(Possibly) Ostenfeld's Eyebright, Effros Ostenfeld or Euphrasia ostenfeldii

We went up to the peak above the quarries (which incidentally appear to have become disused before 1885 judging from old OS maps) - finding a few unexpected gems at the top such as Lady's Bedstraw and Green Spleenwort).

There were small sections of Limestone pavement up there and more areas of broken up pavement.
- with a few plants such as Herb-Robert in the crevices (or grykes) and rather unexpectedly:
Dog's Mercury, Bresychen y cŵn or Mercurialis perennis 

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A trip to Darren Fawr and the area around was again for various purposes including mopping up a few missed species.

Braving the roadside was worth it for this and other gems on the lower slopes:
Pearly Everlasting, Edafeddog hirhoedlog or Anaphalis margaritacea

And one species we had almost given up hope of seeing was finally spotted by Anne after I had scanned this treacherous slope (of lime-burning spoil?) too perfunctorily.

Musk Thistle, Ysgallen bendrom or Carduus nutans

And, in the quarry, this Lizard was basking on an old pallet.
A male Common or Viviparous lizard, Zootoca vivipara