Monday, 7 October 2013

Still in flower 6th October

There are still quite a few of our wildflowers in flower. I walked from Inganess up the Wideford Burn yesterday (6th) and the walk was brightened by the following:
Water Forget-me-not, Pink Purslane, Red Campion, Marsh Woundwort, Marsh Ragwort, Daisy, Dandelion, Water-cress, Creeping Buttercup, Creeping Thistle, Bush Vetch, Bell Heather, Tormentil, Catsear, Devil's-bit Scabious, Foxglove, Perennial Sowthistle, Hogweed. Birds included bramblings, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Grey Wagtail and Buzzard.

Here are a few of the images from yesterday:

Pink Purslane


Bush Vetch

Devil's-bit Scabious

Marsh Ragwort



Red Campion


Bell Heather

Marsh Woundwort

                                                               Water Forget-me-not

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Cuckooflower at the Loch of Tankerness

After the dark days of winter the Cuckooflower, like the Marsh Marigold, is a welcome early bloom. It is common on damp verges where it provides a ribbon of colour or in marshes, ditches and damp pastures where on a spring day its four-petalled flowers of lilac are scattered like stars in the firmament. In among the lilac flowers are less numerous ones of rose-pink and white. Its lower leaves are large and kidney-shaped like those of Watercress (a very close relative) while its upper leaves are narrow.
This perennial has many local names most of them relating to milkmaids and smocks, cuckoos and virgins. It is a spring flower, coming out with the first calls of the Cuckoo. The Lady’s smock refers to the smock of the Virgin Mary, a relic supposedly found in the cave at Bethlehem. However it also has some undesirable associations; in Austria it was believed to be the favourite flower of adders, those who picked it would be bitten before the year was out and in Germany it was a thunder and storm flower, not to be picked for fear of the house being struck by lightning. It has been little-utilised in medicine but in Scotland it has been gathered as a salad and as a cure for epileptic fits.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The yellowing of the woodland floor

We are a little way behind 2012's flowerings. My diary for that year tells me that on 12th April there were Wood Anenomes in flower at Binscarth and Bluebells in Gyre. It also mentions baby Rooks in the 'willows' in Kirkwall. I visited Binscarth and Gyre on 15th April 2013 - no sign of Wood Anenomes, no sign of Bluebells and still no sound of baby Rooks in Kirkwall. The Snowdrops in both woodlands had turned but at last the woodland floor was changing colour - the brown earth was now spangled with the chrome yellow Lesser Celandine stars and in Binscarth the more subtle lemon-yellows of the understated Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage.


Thursday, 11 April 2013

An unprepossessing survivor to brighten up the days of spring - Sticky Mousear

It may be that you've never seen this little plant. It's not the most obvious of flowers but it tries its hardest to brighten up the dullest bits of concrete or tarmac at a time when we have a dearth of spring-time flowers. I don't know how it survives in Kirkwall; by July there are the little tell-tale marks on the pavements of the town where the Council spot sprayer has been. Maybe because it's an early flowerer, it can get away with the mid-summer treatment by which time it's flowers and greenery have vanished. I don't think you can find it everywhere in Kirkwall - it seems to be choosy - but try having a look at car parks especially where the kerb meets the tarmac. Arguably the best display I've seen recently has been at the Rendall Doocot car park although there is a bright and vivid line in Great Western Road (see below).


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The locations for Anne's latest plate

For Anne's latest plate we've chosen two mainland localities and three island localities:
Bell heather - on Sanday with West Manse and the Sanday Community School in the background
Cross-leaved Heath - at Bossack, St Andrews in the East Mainland
Ling - at Mor Stein on Shapinsay
Tormentil - ruins above Rushacloust on Eday
Hard Fern - on the track to the Knowes of Trotty, Harray in the West Mainland

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The first Peat Hill species plate

The flowers shown here, from top left going clockwise are.... Bell Heather, Cross-leaved Heath, Ling, Tormentil and Hard Fern.

Monday, 25 February 2013

first bee of the year..............

Early spring in the Willows, Kirkwall
There are no Willows in the Willows. There are however plenty of Sycamores, a few Wych Elms, a Swedish Whitebeam and a handful of newly planted Hollies. It's a fine example of a Tame Woodland and planted among the trees are pockets of Snowdrops, Crocuses, Bluebells and Daffodils - it's the time of the Snowdrops and Crocuses now.  Along the burn you can find Lesser Celandines, the first ones are just bursting into flower this settled week. By May, Pink Purslane dominates the woodland floor to the extent that the leaves appear to choke everything else. Not so long ago there was a little patch of Ground Ivy which I have been unable to locate this year. Later in the year you can find Yellow Flag, Monkey-flowers and Water-cress along the burn edge. I was quite taken aback to find a honey bee exploring and gathering from the Snowdrop flowers - remind him we are still in February.

middle right - a honey bee hard at work - 25th Feb 2013

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The first species plate in the 'Arable fields, waysides and disturbed ground series.  The flowers depicted are top left going clockwise; Bush Vetch, Meadow Vetchling, Fumitory sp, Tansy, Broad-leaved Dock, Tufted Vetch.

The locations for the species are as follows:
Bush Vetch (top left) - Greenwall, Holm
Meadow Vetchling (top middle) - the pier, Wyre
Fumitory sp (top right) - Bu Sands, Burray
Tansy (bottom right) - Happy Valley, Stenness
Broad-leaved Dock (bottom middle) - Burgar, Evie
Tufted Vetch (bottom left) - Eves Howe, Deerness

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A bit late I know... but Anne and I would like to wish all our readers and watchers a very happy new year. Just to start off 2013 here is something entirely inappropriate and out of season. Neither Muckle Skerry or Red Poppies will feature in the Orkney Book of Wildflowers..... and, while we wait for the first Snowdrops and Lesser Celandines, those are four of the best reasons to include this fine summery picture.