Saturday, 30 June 2012

Primula scotica

Tuesday 26th June 2012                                                                        
11.00 – 14.00
Weather: little breeze, warm and plenty of sun.

Coastal Grassland:
Initially it appeared the grassland was dominated by Sea Arrow-grass and Sea Plantain but as soon as you got down on your hands and knees that closer look revealed all the plants that you would associate with coastal grassland. Sea Plantain came in all shapes and sizes; much of the path is composed of the tiniest of tiny plants – a sward of glossy green and fleshy leaves.

The Primula on the higher ground was barely in flower, this was in complete contrast to the more sheltered and sun-trap southeastern slope which was peppered with these minute gems. In ten days time the Primula show should be breathtaking.

Although we saw plenty of Spring Squill in flower, we saw far more of it in its seeding phase. It was a week or ten days too early for Grass of Parnassus – we saw a few ivory white flowers complete with their nectar guidelines. Wild Thyme was prolific in the areas of the thinnest soils and Martin found a white example for us to drool over.

Sea Plantain, Ribwort Plantain, Buck’s-horn Plantain, Spring Squill, Primula scotica, Sedges, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Wild Thyme, Common Milkwort, Heath Milkwort, Crowberry, Grass of Parnassus, Thrift, Common Mouse-ear, Kidney Vetch, Eyebright

A lot of overlap here between the Coastal Grassland and the Saltmarsh. Plants on both habitats have the ability to tolerate saltwater drenchings. Little hollows in the coastal grassland revealed a few typical saltmarsh plants. The big surprise were the two Greater Sea-spurrey plants on salt drenched rocks in the Noust of Bigging.

Greater Sea-spurrey, Sea-milkwort, Sea Arrow-grass

                                                             Greater Sea-spurrey

Sea Mayweed, Perennial Sow-thistle, Cleavers, Orache, Sea Campion

Disturbed ground:
Hogweed, Common Sorrel, Chickweed, Spear Thistle, Creeping Thistle

Yellow Flag, Reed Canary Grass, Water Mint, Ragged Robin, Marsh Cinquefoil, Northern Marsh Orchid, Heath Spotted Orchid, Lesser Spearwort, MarshPennywort, Marsh Ragwort

Coastal Heath:
The heath is yet to flower. The Bell Heather was just beginning to get serious but the Ling was a long way off. Most striking was the abundance of Mountain Everlasting plants – it must find the granite soils to its liking. The stems, leaves and unopened buds of Slender St.John’s-wort trailed through the heath and will be in flower in a couple of weeks time.

Ling, Bell Heather, Crowberry, Tormentil, Wild Thyme, Slender St.John’s-wort, Mountain Everlasting, Yellow Rattle

                                                               Mountain Everlasting

Monday, 18 June 2012

We headed off to Waulkmill Bay on 12th June. The last four weeks have been monotonously cold with northerly winds daily. Much of Waulkmill faces south so if anywhere in Orkney is likely to have blooms, it's going to be Waulkmill. It didn't disappoint although a few flowers were a wee bit late notably Bogbean and Goldenrod. Butterwort was brilliant and unashamedly here it is:

and here is the 'we'

the forest of Butterwort is directly behind the 'we'

here is our list - by no means exhaustive
Waulkmill toilets: Invasive plants and recolonising heath-type plants:
Broad-leaved Dock, Ragwort, Dandelion, Hogweed, Procumbent Pearlwort,
Heath Speedwell, Northern Marsh Orchid, Common Cats-ear, Greater Woodrush, Angelica

Waulkmill road: Invasive and heathland
Creeping Thistle, Red Clover, Rosebay Willowherb, Broad-leaved Dock, Cow Parsley, Ground Elder
Tormentil, Hard Fern, Ling, Marsh Thistle, Broad Buckler Fern, Meadowsweet, Ribwort Plantain, Lady’s Smock, Bush Vetch

Waulkmill track: Invasive and heathland
Greater Plantain; Rose-bay Willowherb, Broad-leaved Dock, Curled Dock, Ground Elder, Stinging Nettle
Ling, Meadowsweet, Greater Woodrush, Meadowsweet, Eared Willow, Tufted Hair-grass, Lousewort, Heath Woodrush, Red Campion, Angelica

Fen: wetland
Marsh Marigold, Ragged Robin, Bogbean

Orache, Sea Mayweed, Cleavers, Perennial Sowthistle, Curled Dock, Scots Lovage, Silverweed, Procumbent Pearlwort, Yellow Flag
Lichens: Verrucaria (black) and Xanthoria (yellow)

Sea Plantain, Scurvy-grass, Thrift, Sea-milkwort, Sea Arrowgrass

Golden-rod, Butterwort, Aspen, Wood Sage, Common Milkwort, Foxglove and Moss Carder bees, Northern Marsh Orchid, Primrose, Honeysuckle, Eyebright, Common Dog Violet, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Bush Vetch, Slender St John’s Wort, Angelica, Crowberry

Also: two Garden Tiger caterpillars, a Common Heath moth, three Whimbrels, Arctic Tern, Red-breasted Mergansers, Eiders