Tuesday, 2 December 2014

November in Merioneth

Well, it was bound to happen one day! On 19th November I was quietly thinking that I must send out a reminder for the Merioneth Nats meeting on 27th , when I had an email from Polly, telling me that she hoped to be at the meeting the next day!!  I had slipped a week, so I had to decide at once to contact everyone, jump in the car and be 120 miles away in time to meet whoever turned up.
Actually, only Polly [and baby Robin] came, but it was lovely to see her and the new babe - people hadn't heard from me so they assumed the meeting wouldn't happen!  We met in the tea room in the village of Fron Goch and soon decamped to the caravan site at Tyn Cornel. We had a friendly welcome from Jean and Pete Tooth and permission to go wherever we wished around the site.

A routine sort of day but plenty of records and lovely weather, in an attractive area.  Although we were told that all the plantings were from seed gathered on site, there were obviously previous alien plantings as well and it was difficult to know where to stop recording.  There were alien conifers such as a young Cedrus atlantica, Atlas Cedar, and a cypress tentatively named as Chamaecyparis pisifera,Sawara Cypress, with squarrose leaves and a strong fruity odour.

Rosa arvensis, Field-rose

This abundantly fruiting rose was quite clearly the native Rosa arvensis, Field-rose, but there were others which approached Rosa canina but were obviously not quite right.

We were pleased to have added 111 new records to a "virgin" tetrad - it made all the travelling well worth while!

October - a busy week in Wales - Rhyd

It began with the Cofnod conference in Llandudno, once again held at the fine Community Centre at Craig y Don.  It was sad to be there and to know that Tony [A J E] Smith] was no longer living round the corner. After a nice tea with Wendy, I went off to Harlech where I stayed at the campsite at Tanforhesgen in a fine caravan for a couple of nights with every modern convenience.  I will certainly be returning there as it will be a great
base for more recording visits.

The next day was Merioneth Nats. John and I had reccied the Rhyd area for parking etc,  the week before the meeting.  It was a glorious autumn day then, and lovely Welsh countryside.  I was looking forward so much to a return visit! 

In the event it poured all day and although we made lots of records it wasn't such an inspiring area after all and we were glad to retire to the little tea room at Llanfrothen for hot chocolate and buns!  Many thanks to Martin and Mari for braving the weather and contributing  to the cause! 

Berula erecta

 I finished the week's botanising with a day out with Martin and Andrew Graham to Harlech Point.  Even going in from the campsite it was a very long walk and we didn't quite get to the rich area of the dunes, but the day was made by Andrew spotting Berula erecta, Lesser Water-parsnip -.the first hectad record for this RPR species since 1972!

Y Tebernacl, Machynlleth
" a very beautiful auditorium with perfect acoustics".

Even that was not the end of my Welsh week - I went to a splendid concert at the Tabernacl in Machynlleth that evening, staying with Penny Condry, and then went to Quaker Meeting at Pantperthog on my way home.

When I have a programme like that where everything fits in so well, it makes botanising from Preston a real pleasure

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