Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife


Blebo woods

The hottest day of the year and I decide to walk uphill to Kemback then up the steps to Blebo.

Started off cool at the waterfall, with Lesser Stitchwort and Sweet Cicely.

Going up the hill was tough, even counting flowers. But I got to Blebo and walked along the top of the village. Lots of Geranium lucidum.

And some lovely calves with their mothers.

Then I found my way down through the woods, which were just beautiful in the sunshine.

I found another waterfall, might go back to look at moss there sometime.


Tentsmuir discoveries

Changeable weather, total peace and quiet, lots to look at. I love Tentsmuir.

I went along towards the Eden, and the first thing to catch my attention was this little “flower”.

Field Wood-rush, Luzula campestris. It has long fine hairs on the leaves.

There was a strange bird call, which made me go off-track and see if I could spot what was making it. I found this pool, which isn’t usually there.

There were Shelduck, Moorhen, Coots, two deer – but nothing that seemed right for the mystery noise.

The changing light and colours were wonderful.

I went as far as the Eden, where the sand has been blown into dunes and ripples, some with footprints.

Coming back, I noticed what I thought was a fern growing out of one of the tank blocks. On a closer look, it seems to be Valerian leaves. I wonder if they’ll flourish there?

The moss and lichen on the tops of the tank blocks was wonderful.

I found a caterpillar and just a little further on, his friend.

I couldn’t identify these at all, but the reserve manager has kindly put me right – Dark Tussock Moth caterpillars, Dicallomera fascelina.

I found the first violet of the Tentsmuir season and was glad to think that soon the dunes will be full of small spots of colour, like this.

The cliffs

In his Flora of Fife, Charles Howie lists Adoxa moschatellina, Town-hall Clock, growing at Randerstone Castle on the coast. So having a Sunday afternoon to spare, I went up to Kingsbarns and walked along to have a look.

I found celandines – a whole field of them.

And primroses in abundance.

I found a new place for Sea Spleenwort, Asplenium marinum.

I found a new cave.

And masses of timber washed up on the shore.

And a huge cleft in the rocks.

But I didn’t find any Adoxa moschatellina.

Abernethy lambs

A short walk up to the quarry to look for Cryphaea heteromalla (which I found) took me past this lovely bank of Coltsfoot.

At the quarry, there were Jelly Ears.

I went up the path to Pitmedden but didn’t go far – just far enough to get this lovely view of Abernethy.

And far enough to see and hear some gorgeous wee lambs. This one was very new – still traces of blood on its side.

Wary but tired mother with the two wee ones.

The moss on the walls was a very rich mixture, and it was a lovely walk with the sound of the burn in the woodland, so I think I’ll be back

Is it Spring yet?

Today the answer was definitely: “No, notonyourlife!” A grey day, but even so, I enjoyed the walk along to Ruddon’s Point and back.

There were dozens of Sanderlings going like clockwork along the shore…

…until I scared them off.

But after some impressive formation flying, they landed right back in front of me.

There were Eider ducks, a Turnstone, some Redshanks…and a new one for me, Velvet Scoter ducks. (Invisible in this shot, but there!)

I know they were Velvet Scoters because I asked a man with a telescope – he told me there were 3 kinds of Scoter out there, Common, Velvet and I think he also said Black. Dozens of them, bobbing about out at sea, just out of the range of the binoculars and camera, but I saw the white wing flash of the Velvets.

Lots of shells on the beach, some in wavy wave lines.

Lots of other stuff too – beech, hazel, fircone.

A good way along the beach, a whole new burn had cut through the sand and was flowing steadily down to the sea.

I had a look at the moss on the tank traps again, and found a ladybird sheltering from the wind.

A good walk, even if it had a January feel to it.

Tentsmuir life

Down at Tentsmuir the dunes were flooded, as I’ve not seen them for years.

I wonder what that will do to the orchids and Grass of Parnassus? Looking into the pools, there were lots of (apparently) drowned snails.

I rescued one which seemed to be clinging to a submerged blade of grass, and it seemed none the worse.

The dunes were full of the sound of skylarks. There were spreads of Erophila verna. OK, tiny dolls-cot-sized spreads, but spreads all the same.

I came across several of these courting couples, some on the dunes and one heading towards a ditch in the forest.

The dunes are still bleached and generally things look wintery, but it sounded like spring.

There were tiny pussy-willows on the salix repens.

Along at the alders, the dead trees were just a scene of devastation.

However, there were (full-sized) pussy-willows.

And alder catkins, at last.

A little further on, I stopped because I could hear a hum…a willow full of bumblebees. Another real sound of spring.

There were rabbits, but no fox today at the edge of the wood. I found parsley piert leaves, aphanes arvensis, tiny but beautiful, in the gateway.

I had a look at the moss on one of the trees in the boggy bit. Fantastic striped setae.

The frog pond wasn’t quite as busy as I’ve seen it, but loud with frog-calls and full of splashes and ripples.

A new path

Catch-up on my Sunday walk a week ago. The sun was shining (which it hadn’t been doing much) and it was good to walk along the beach at Earlsferry. But the cliff path was so muddy and slippery that I decided to go down the back and find another way.

Here are the highlights:
The first of the Scurvygrass flowers.

The most beautiful little Field mouse, breakfasting on grass shoots.

The path along the drainage ditch that took me back to the road.

Frogspawn? Maybe a heron or something dragged it out of the ditch?

Spring at last

Just a quick visit to Morton Lochs, but it made me realise spring has sprung – there were chiffchaffs and coltsfoot, birdsong everywhere, and I wasn’t wearing gloves.

On the lochs, there were a couple of Canada geese, which I’ve not seen there before.

The reflections in the pool were amazing.

Kiel’s Den

After a bit of round-the-houses, I found the entrance to Kiel’s Den, and began wondering why I’ve never explored it before. I walked along thinking of Charles Howie. There were some huge coppiced lime trees – maybe they were there in his time?

Dog’s Mercury isn’t my favourite, but it’s just nice to find some proper spring flowers. With cubist buds.

There wasn’t anything else flowering today, but lots to look at even so. First, these amazing suede-finish fungi which I think are Jelly Ears.

Then there were mosses galore. Charles Howie would know what they all were. I recognised this one as Thamnobryum alopecurum, with the branches all coming off a “trunk” at the top.

I found a very washed-out Lophocolia bidentata (I think), growing among Mnium hornum (I think).

This lichen catches my eye every time I see it. I’ve now looked it up: Cladonia coniocraea.

There were some good shapes on the rotten stumps and trunks:

And this fallen giant is now host to two young silver birches. (I expect Charles Howie was familiar with it when alive.)

I also found the largest thuidium tamariscinum I’ve ever seen – rivalling the ferns for size.

Coming back, I was pleased to find a shortcut, which took me past more moss.

And past a wall covered so beautifully in lichen, moss and stonecrop. Definitely one to have another look at later in the year.

There were glimpses of the silver sea and hazy coastal path, and all in all I felt it was such a lovely corner of Fife.
And I think this counts as my March “somewhere else”, even though it’s on my doorstep.

Two kinds of Butterbur

After the snow, it was so good to get out and see some green (although the Tay at Newburgh was beautifully misty and atmospheric).

Lots of flotsam went drifting past, including an entire chunk of the banking.

There were signs of spring like little Elder leaves and bursting buds of the flowering currant. But I liked these leaves best – Shining Crane’s-bill, Geranium lucidum.

The moss on the stones at the river edge was the most beautiful thing.

I went back by Lindores, where the Giant Butterbur, Petasites japonicus, was flowering over the wall, but the verge where I found it before was completely buried in snow.

Such a weird-looking plant.

I then went on to Kettlebridge to see whether the White Butterbur, Petasites albus, was flowering. It was.

This plant could be so beautiful, but unless you go close up, it looks a bit scruffy and dirty. I like it though.