Monday, 25 February 2013

Prunus cerasifera

A twig I brought home,
showing characteristic shiny green bark 
February is proving very cold and I have been out looking for parking places for this year's programme. 
Lots of walking instead of botanising, although I came home today with a new tetrad record from near Llandderfel – Prunus cerasifera.  I think there must have been a fashion for planting it as I almost always find it in hedges near gateways to large houses.  It has been overlooked as Blackthorn in the past, although it flowers much earlier.  Clapham, Tutin and Warburg [1952] say it flowers from March to April but Stace's 3rd edition [2010] has it flowering from January to February and into March.  Mine was just coming into flower today. It must be global warming!

This year's field meetings programme can be viewed on the Merioneth page of the BSBI website

Monday, 18 February 2013

Mynydd Mynyllod

Snow on the Berwyns from Mynydd Mynyllod
 Yesterday was a beautifully sunny day although the tops of the Berwyns still had their frosting of snow. We walked up to the bridle path which runs along the top of the Mynydd Mynyllod ridge.  Although three days had passed since St Valentine's Day,  it was the first time this year I had heard a Song Thrush, even now not in full voice.  Great Tits, Robins and Blackbirds added to the orchestra and far away a Buzzard was mewing. The most exciting sight was a group of Lapwings which although they do breed there had more of the look of over-wintering birds.

I made a new tetrad record, too - the first one of the year!  Empetrum nigrum, Crowberry, which is not uncommon on the Berwyn side of the Dee Valley, but strangely had not been recorded here before.

Existing Wind Turbines on Mynydd Mynyllod
At the far point of the walk the three existing wind turbines came into view, looking graceful and rather elegant on their improved grassland site - although in the pleasant light breeze only one was working! However, Scottish Power's proposal is for a further 25 huge structures with a tip height of 145m [approx 475 feet] - and the site itself less than 1247 feet a.s.l!

Many people [including myself]  who support alternative energy sources such as wind power feel that this is inappropriate and disproportionate, and that the disturbances during construction will also do great damage.  Schedule 42 species in the area [a list of 557 species of principal importance in Wales] include Lapwing, Curlew and Brown Hare, and valuable habitats such as heather moorland, acid grassland and open standing water might also be affected  . Let us hope that common sense will prevail.

Our first Merioneth Nats meeting of the year, in Coed y Parc near Dolgellau, postponed from January snows, will now be on 28th February.  Brian Burnett's Non-flowering Plants Group will join us and we hope to find some interesting Atlantic woodland bryophytes and  to refind Hymenophyllum tunbrigense, Tunbridge Filmy-fern. The meeting place is at SH737166 but there's not room for many cars so please try to share. The full programme for the year should be available very soon to mailing list members and on the BSBI and Cofnod websites.