Monday, 1 December 2014

September - Ynys Gifftan

Ynys Gifftan from the Talsarnau shore

Ynys Gifftan is a small island lying off Talsarnau in the mouth of the Afon Dwyryd and is easily accessible on foot at low tide.  A wonderful crowd of ten botanists turned up at Talsarnau Station - probably the best turnout we have ever had!

With the tide high at breakfast time we were able to botanise the salt-marsh on the main shore before crossing to the island.  We had hoped to find an abundance of Salicornias [Glassworts] and Atriplex [Oraches], but it seems probable that the river is so clean, or so acid, that the marsh supports little diversity of these brackish, marginal plants.

Juncus acutus, Sharp Rush

We made 68 records in this fairly uniform habitat as we negotiated the creeks, more or less dry shod! Crossing to the island we were met by some splendid tussocks of that Merioneth speciality, Juncus acutus, Sharp Rush. We found our target species, Carex punctata, Dotted sedge and Asplenium obovatum, Lanceolate Spleenwort and added a new Rare Plant Register one, Carex distans, Distant Sedge. 

Yucca gloriosa
Photo: Penarc

Perhaps the most exotic record was of Yucca gloriosa, Spanish Dagger, on the island miles from anywhere, but probably an alien escaping from Portmeirion just across the estuary.

Two enthusiastic botanists!
[Portmeirion village in the distance]
We had a good meal together in Talsarnau that evening, then Martin, Jacky and I met up again the next day on the salt marsh further down the estuary at Ynys.  We had botanised this square a couple of years earlier but this time we were focussing again on salt marsh for Salicornia and Atriplex.  We did manage to record three species of the former but Atriplex there were none except a few sadly gone-over bits of Atriplex patula.

A saltmarsh pool
surrounded by the rosy coloration of Salicornia ramosissima

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