Sunday, 30 November 2014

August in Merioneth - Caerdeon

August in Merioneth was Caerdeon, with a record attendance. The weather continued fine, in spite of forecasts, and we were uninterrupted by rain.  Botanists from as far afield as Scotland, Leicester, Sussex and Hampshire convened for four days of intensive recording.  We made 4000 records and had a great time.  It is now so late in the year, and an account will, I hope, appear in the BSBI Yearbook early next year, so I will just post a selection of the photos which we took.
The team after a slog up to a fine view above
 Llyn Wylfa

Touch-me-not Balsam

Impatiens noli-tangere, Touch-me-not Balsam, grew in abundance on our way back down to the road

Father and daughter Donald
botanising along the Afon Gamlin
Flora, Duncan and I found Saw-wort alongside the river Gamlin after struggling through what seemed like acres of Molinia tussocks
 Serratula tinctoria, 

Andromeda polifolia

At the hot-spot of Cors Coch we found the target species of Andromeda polifolia, Bog Rosemary, and Drosera intermedia, Oblong-leaved Sundew and we did a full species list, which had not been done by the CCW surveys of previous years
Drosera intermedia

Vicia orobus

Blogger at Cors Coch

On the way back we stopped off to see the Vicia orobus, Wood Bitter-vetch, which grows quite frequently along the A470 near Trawfynydd between the fields and the verge-cutting.

Those were all my photographs, but Phill Brown made a great record of his four days at Caerdeon and has kindly said I can post them - so here they are - the ten following ones are all his - and great pictures, too.  They give an excellent idea of the scenery, flora and ambience we enjoyed at Caerdeon.

This old miners' track is the start of the hike up to Diffwys - it always amazes me that it is so well-preserved and easy to find after so many decades of disuse.

The view from the flanks of Diffwys showing the extent of the upland blanket bog and the settled  farmland below.

Cryptogramma crispa, Parsley Fern,   - a plant typical of these very acid rocky habitats

The summit path to Diffwys -

 -  and the team at the top!

Some plants of these high acid mountains

Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Cowberry

Diphasiastrum alpinum, Alpine Clubmoss

Martin in a mine adit, with abundant
Asplenium trichomanes subsp. trichomanes  
Maidenhair Spleenwort
And finally......
Breakfast at Caerdeon.....

.....and the fine old house of Plas Caerdeon

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A busy July

Rhynchospora alba White Beak-sedge
at Ffridd Bryn Coch
John and I had a great week near Trawsfynydd in July exploring some new parts of the county  We walked down to Ceunant Llenyrch for the first time and made lots of nice records; we also visited the farmer who grazes the land north of Cwm Mynach, John Jones of Ffridd Bryn Coch, at his remote farmhouse on the eastern flank of the Rhinogau near Trawfynydd.  There is so much of this lovely Merioneth that I still don't know!
Our B&B at Trawfynydd - complete with model railway!

Cloudberry Rubus chamaemorus
Photo: Gethin Elias

We also had a day out on the RSPB reserve at Tanrallt in Cwm Prysor, where Gethin Elias, the warden, is putting up some remarkable records, including a new site for Cloudberry, Rubus chamaemorus, and several sites for Carex limosa, Bog Sedge.  It is great to have such a keen naturalist working in the area. 

The Stwlan reservoir which supplies pumped-storage
 hydro-electricity power
For the July meeting of Merioneth Nats we had hoped to reach the cliffs of Moelwyn Mawr but were unable to get permission to drive as far as the Stwlan dam, so we met at Tanygrisiau  to walk up.  A rewarding walk if not exciting botany!
"The team" at the Stwlan Dam

The next day began the great bramble weekend based on the Field Studies Council Centre at Rhyd y Creuau neat Betws y Coed.  With our leaders David Earl and Rob Randall we spent time in both Merioneth and Caernarfon looking at the common and rarer species of Rubus and getting used to the important characters. 
Rubus dasyphyllus
These included: leaf arrangement, shape and colour, and hairiness; the colour of the stems and their armature, from the hedgehog-y stems of Rubus dasyphyllus to almost smooth ones.  The flower colour and size is important including the often rosy-red stamens and styles.  I came away feeling more confused than ever but at least knowing a) what to look for and b) which of the commoner species can be expected in Merioneth.

June - Llandrillo and Llyn Oror

Peter Benoit at Broadwater in 2009
- his last BSBI field meeting
before his retirement
Photo: Jackie Maynard
I stayed  for the week with Helen and we decided to revisit Crogen.  This artificial lake alongside the river was probably originally created as a duck shoot but is now very overgrown, with not much water to be seen.  It was the first site I ever visited with my predecessor, Peter Benoit in 1999, so it was one of the few tetrads in the Vice-county which had more records before- than post-2000. 

We walked across the improved fields and around the lake where we recorded a suite of aquatic plants such as Alisma plantago-aquatica, Water plantain, Carex rostrata, Bottle Sedge, C vesicaria, Bladder Sedge and their hybrid C x involuta [determined by Mike Porter].  Comarum palustre, Marsh Cinquefoil is always good to see, as were Sparganium erectum,  Branched Bur-reed, Carex acuta, Slender Tufted-sedge Typha latifolia, Bulrush and Scutellaria galericulata, Skullcap. 

We recorded both Stachys palustris and Stachys x ambigua, the hybrid with S sylvatica, but in hindsight I wonder if they were not both the hybrid.  Some people think that if a plant has any odour it cannot be S. palustris.  My own feeling is that it also has some smell, though not an unpleasant one. It is a very subjective sense, smell!

Potamogeton crispusWikipedia Commons

Myriophyllum spicatum
Wikipedia Commons
The next day was a Merioneth Nats meeting at Llyn Oror, north of Corwen.  It’s a strange area of heavily improved farmland surrounding two fishing lakes.  The smaller of the two had apparently been planted and was full of the bright yellow flowers of Fringed Water-lily, Nymphoides peltata while around it was a stand of a variegated Glyceria maxima, Reed Sweet-grass. We enjoyed our picnic in bright sunshine on the shore.

Llyn Oror from the air showing part of the Roman road
Photo Toby Driver, August 2006
used by permission of  the
Royal Commission of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
The main lake by contrast, is very overgrown with scrub almost continuously surrounding it.  However unpromising this dank lake looked, we were rewarded by finding the first record ofPotamogeton crispus, Curled Pondweed, for the county. as well as an update for the Rare Plant Register, Myriophyllum spicatum, Spiked Water-milfoil.  These good records apart, the day was memorable for Jacky losing, and then through dogged persistence, refinding her notebook in the featureless scrub surrounding the lake!
On a stone in the woods beside the lake we found these words:
Yma yr arferai
John Redwood Anderson
Bardd yr Oror
Ysgryfennu ei barddoniaeth
[Here was John Redwood Anderson, the Poet of Oror, 1887-1964 accustomed to write his poetry ]
Our grateful thanks for access permissions as ever, to the landowner, David Duffell.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Castell Prysor, June 2014

Briza media
Copyright Floral Images J R Crellin 2009

Polly and Jay having lunch at Castell Prysor

Annie, Polly and I met on another lovely day in June to try to refind Pseudorchis albida, Small White Orchid, in Castell Prysor, east of Trawsfynydd, by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Huws. We enjoyed the company of Jay, too, meaning that Polly, who was quite heavily pregnant, really had more than her fair share to carry!  We did a full square-bash and although we didn’t find the orchid,or Galium boreale, Northern Bedstraw, another target species formerly found there, we made a good list and were well pleased with our day. We found Quaking Grass, Briza media, Common Rock-rose, Helianthemum nummularium and Annie found a tiny morsel of Vicia orobus, Wood Bitter-vetch, another Section 42 species which had also been recorded there before.
Helianthemum nummularium
Wikipedia Commons