Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife


Plant hunting season is open

I went out with Margaret and Dorothy to see Dorothy’s “square” – an excellent chance to shake off the winter rustiness and start remembering all the things I’d forgotten about plants.

The morning was pretty cold for botanising, but we ignored that and worked our way though identifications for a speedwell, a red nettle and a little white crucifer. Some mystery leaves defeated us. Margaret reckons Fumaria?

In the woods, the bluebell carpet was just beginning to colour up. There were anemones, wood sorrel, primroses, and lots of exciting leaves, including adoxa moschatelina. And in the next plot, we found it in flower. (Wish I’d had my camera, not just my phone.)

Lucky Dorothy has the river Ore going through her square. Down by its banks, there was crosswort, with its lovely furry leaves so neatly arranged.

There was butterbur, white nettle, and celandine.

Greater stitchwort.

Hawthorn just about ready to flower.

In the field above, there was something new for me (major excitement!) – Parsley piert, Aphanes arvensis, tiny little thing.

We finished up on a hillside bank which will be lovely in a month or two, judging by the leaves in the grass. And there were primroses and celandine in the meantime.

Easter Saturday

Boarhills to St Andrews, on a sunny/cloudy day with a bracing/biting wind. White tops on the waves. Kite flyer at the East Sands. Spring seems to be going so fast, and I just wanted to stop for a while and see where we are. The blackthorn blossom is still white and fluffy.

Gorse is in full flower all along the cliffs.

Primroses everywhere. “Abundant”, even. (But sadly not true for the Wood Anemone described that way in JH Wilson’s time.)

I’ve always wondered about the difference between thrum-eyed and pin-eyed primroses. Thrum-eyed have a cluster of stamens at the top of the petal tube.

Pin-eyed have the stigma at the top of the tube.

I thought this meant that one kind was male, and one female. But it doesn’t – both kinds have stamens and stigma, just in different positions. Apparently this helps with pollination (

But then there are some flowers that appear to have a completely empty tube…

Apart from the primroses, there were coltsfoot (coltsfeet?) turning orange.

There were bluebells just beginning to show, and some pink campion, but no orchids yet. Saw the first Marsh Marigolds of the year.

Viola riviniana was everywhere (much nicer name than Dog Violet). Some more closed up than others? Beautiful markings on some of them.

Along at the rock and spindle, the landslip is filling in nicely.

But the bank is still eroding. Some joker had re-homed a couple of the loose clumps.

I took away some moss from an overflow to try and identify (what are the chances).

I was also tempted into taking a couple of samples from down at the boggy bit (after scrambling round base of cliff, thinking that one of these days I must remember my stiff old joints before taking this route).

The moss boulders are all dried up – just as well, really – I’ll come back another day to have a proper look at them.

I’m always pleased to find the small patch of water crowfoot still there, in the puddle on the path.

Even with the wind, it was lovely to be out seeing all this colour and life, thinking some Easter thoughts.

Spring has sprung at Holl

I went up to Holl reservoir on Sunday morning, wondering if the overflow would be showing signs of anything special yet.

There were lambs – some doing high kicks, this one feeding with its mother.

There were larch raspberries all over the branches.

I’ve never seen the overflow do more than trickle, but today there was a deluge coming down.

The horsetails will probably cope. Think these are the fertile shoots of Field Horsetail, but I could be wrong.

I think those are Geranium lucidum, Shining Crane’s-bill leaves in the corner – hope they’re OK.

Along the banks, there wood anemones, celandine, coltsfoot and primroses (these ones looking rather battered).

There was a green blob of moss in the middle of the overflow – no idea, but I liked its vivid colour.

There was a willow warbler warbling appropriately in the willows – first one this year.

I was intrigued by this star-burst seedhead, which looks like a sparkler on a stick.

Coming back, barren strawberry (depressed terminal leaflet).

I love how this part of Fife looks so un-Fife-like.

Kilmany, Logie, Forret Den

Sunday morning was beautiful and I explored a new walk which I hoped would take me to Forret Den, to look for Gagea lutea, Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem. I headed along the old railway line from Kilmany, enjoying the bird song and trees beginning to stir into life.

Then I walked along the edge of what had been a field of willows. All still rooted, so maybe another crop coming?

Up the road to Logie – steep, hot in the sun, but there was a lovely wee scilla halfway up, all dewy.

There were skylarks singing over the fields, and the views were great.

I love the colours at this time of year – just takes a bit of sun to show them off.

There was a larch full of cones but few buds, and next to it, a larch full of buds but no cones.

I started wondering about this, then saw an alder with magnificent catkins but few old cones next to one with lots of cones but scrappy little catkins.

Still wondering if this is a real thing, or a coincidence.

The view down the path was great.

Beautiful lichen colours.

And of course I couldn’t resist all the mosses…

Or this moss-covered farm building…

Somehow, though, I managed to walk right past Forret Den…so I went back today.

Sadly, no sign of Gagea lutea (abundant there in 1873, according to Mr Sadler who presented specimens to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh). Maybe too early, or maybe not there at all.

But I did find a rather nice Black Spleenwort fern.

There were also lots of promising leaves, so I might go back for another look later. The top of the den has been used for fly tipping, but the lower part was untouched.

Spring flowers on the coastal path

Sunday was sunny and I parked at Boarhills and walked down the Kenly burn then along towards Kingsbarns. The burn was full after all the rain, roaring down to the sea.

The snowdrops are still going strong, great drifts of them along the banks. Obviously not bothered by the Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam.

I passed a friendly robin, who posed for a few photos.

Investigated the ruined mill building, now a home for Hart’s-tongue fern and ivy.

Further along, the Hart’s-tongue ferns appeared to be staging an invasion, with a few snowdrops for company. Beautiful.

I walked along wondering if the Himalyan Balsam is really such a problem when there are so many other plants that take over too, given a chance. Dog’s Mercury, for one – it was out in flower.

The breakers were rolling in at the mouth of the burn.

No unusual birds there today, but a group of six redshanks was there among the mallards and black-headed gulls.

Along the path were the first of the lesser celandines.

And coltsfoot (with ruff of sepals).

And scurvygrass – common or Danish, did I ever sort it out?

The rocks along there are wonderful, weird shapes and patterns. This one looked like plant cells.

This one looked as if it might be a huge fossilized plant.

I stopped to watch and listen to a group of birds on the wire fence above the beach. There were definitely yellowhammers.

I wasn’t sure about the others, but knowledgeable friends pointed me to the Twite.

I’ve never knowingly seen a Twite before!

There was the occasional clash between the two species, with mid-air challenges.

Cold at Tentsmuir

On the way up to Kinshaldy, there were two lapwings, wonderful. The beach was deserted and freezing, with a cold little wind.
The dunes were more sheltered, still in their winter bleakness but I like that.
It makes things like this little clump of fresh polypody leaves stand out.
There was lots of moss to look at (identity of this one not yet worked out).
The top of this tank barrier was a landscape all of its own.

The lichen on the dunes looked cold.
The gorse looked cold.
A skylark and a stonechat livened things up, and I think I got a glimpse of the sea eagle flying into the wood. But I was glad of my furry hood and walked back planning to get the fire lit as soon as possible.

February beach walk

It was SO good to get out for a walk – feels like it’s been weeks, what with weather, work and general one-thing-or-another. It was a day of hazy, misty sunshine down at Lower Largo.

There were banks of shells where the waves had tidied them into a heap. A lot seemed to be half open, not the usual half shells. When I bent down to photograph these, I could hear a faint but steady noise, not quite a crackle or a trickle but just as if the shells were settling.

I liked this barnacle-crusted razor shell.

And I liked these sea things – a shell-studded sand mason worm cylinder, a coral tree, and a wiggly thing.
The beach was empty and the peace was wonderful.
There’s been some erosion since I was here last.
Just when I’d almost given up hope, there was a group of sanderlings. Other birds today were a kestrel, and a shag – well, after much studying of pictures on the internet, I think it’s a shag not a cormorant.

I went right out onto Ruddon’s point as the tide was low. Out to sea, there was a group of ducks – I took a long-range picture on the off-chance, and think they might be wigeon.



Coming back, investigated this weird white thing on the beach – creepy looking “hand” coming out of it!
Then there was the moss…loved the moss on this tank trap.
Think this one might be Orthotrichum anomalum.

Coming back, the sun disappeared. But I saw my first primrose of the year, so I didn’t care.

Winter birds

Just time for a short stroll round Birnie/Gaddon on Sunday, where the lochs were still half-frozen.
These two were having some difficulty, slipping and sliding as they walked on the ice.
I passed close by to a bullfinch, and then had several minutes chat to a robin as I tried to photograph the hazel catkins.
There was a flock of siskins swooping around the tree tops – just a few blurry photos, but there must have been dozens of them.


Then there was an alder full of goldfinches.
I resisted all the moss, as my kitchen table is still covered with little bits of green stuff.

January skies

Out on the coastal path at Elie on Sunday, all was quiet – both weather and walkers.

There was a low bank of cloud on the other side of the Forth, with Berwick Law silhouetted.
Has the sand has retreated? – I thought these rocks used to have sand all around them.

Plantwise, I found red campion, groundsel, and a couple of Sea Mayweed flowers.
And beautiful gorse, of course.
I saw this plant mohican.
The birds were queuing up to be spotted. Yellowhammer, linnets, grey wagtail, stonechat, reed bunting – but no kestrel.

The sea scapes stole the show though.

Remember April?

Going through my photographs, looks like I meant to put these into a blog for 21 April 2016. Better late than never?
The disappointing cave.
Cave gate.