Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife


Peace among the mosses

It’s been a difficult week and I was so glad to escape to Craighall Den for some peaceful frosty sunshine, birdsong, and mosses.

I’ll cover the mosses in detail in the other blog, but I really enjoyed looking at them and thinking about their habitats.

There were lots of snowdrops too.

And I was so pleased when I looked for, and found, lots of the tiny pink hazel flowers among the catkins. (But came away with only one decent picture…)

It was such a beautiful day. I wished I could have gone exploring “somewhere else”, but I went on to the end of the field beyond the den, where I’ve never been, and this will have to do for February.


Elie and Ardross

Three pictures from a Sunday morning walk.

Tentsmuir winter magic

Down at Tentsmuir today, there was a perishing cold wind but it was (mostly) sunny.

The first thing I saw wasn’t so good – huge tyre tracks all over the inner dunes. Some flooded with water.

Then I realised that all the rogue trees have gone. The view restored to what it used to be.

So I suppose that’s a good thing, and I know some plants thrive on a bit of soil disruption – but I wish they’d been a bit more mindful of where the tractors were driven. Along at the big pool, I found a smouldering pile of half-burnt trees.

Anyway, on to happier things. Two shelducks were pecking about in the pool, reflected in the water.
I found lots of good moss (including capsules on the Syntrichia) but I’ll keep most of it for the moss blog. There was an amazingly twisty tree, with thick moss on the branches.

The moor was so wintery, with blackened heather and silver lichen.
I love this – for some reason, it reminds me of the Monarch of the Glen…

I went over to see whether the alder catkins might have opened. Realised I don’t really know what they look like, open – but I think these have a way to go.

Coming back, pleased to see a couple of little flowers lingering on the wood sage.

Who needs flowers and birds?

After the snow stopped and the sun came out, I thought a wee trip to Morton Lochs would be good – a chance to see some birds and maybe even a kingfisher?

The lochs were beautiful, partly frozen. But sadly lacking in excitement. The only birds I saw were coots, mallard, mute swans, moorhen – and I startled a heron and listened to a woodpecker. But I didn’t even see my favourite dabchick, never mind a kingfisher. However, the reed mace heads were a sight to see.

And the sunlight in the trees was magical, including these reflections in a flood pond.

Moving on to Guardbridge, I went to see if the University has really blocked access to the path along the estuary – and it has. But there were catkins to see, both hazel and alder.

And it always cheers me up to see pussy willows coming out, especially against a blue sky.

Finally, a lovely moss community growing on the edge of the road bridge over the Motray burn.

Winter beach and birds

It was this kind of a day.

But at least there was no wind to speak of, and the rain held off.

I went along the beach from Lower Largo to see what birds were about. There were Eider ducks in the sea at Largo, huge flocks of oystercatcher, and loads of gulls. A group of wigeon, making their squeaky toy noises.

I photographed a group of the unidentified waders.

I think it’s bar-tailed godwit – but not very confident about the difference between bar- and black-tailed. Short neck made me plump for bar-tailed, but the picture was too distant to be much use.

No problem at all in identifying the wee sanderlings, scurrying about like clockwork toys.

I just love them.

Along at the end of the beach, I picked up a whole bag of plastic litter but there was so much…however, I also found this lovely crab claw.

At Ruddon’s point, I had a look at the mosses on the tank traps – will be covering them in the other blog, but there are enough there to take up a whole morning. Maybe when it’s warm, I’ll go down with the book and see what can be identified.

I liked the wintry leaves of this grass (is it a grass?)

Coming back, the sun almost broke through the murky sky.

The only flowering plant I saw was gorse.

I was hoping for a primrose to annoy Susan.

Boxing day at Boarhills

It was a beautiful (cold) sunny day.

I walked down from Boarhills, didn’t go past the salmon bothy. No exotic birds at the mouth of the burn today, but there was a yellowhammer absolutely glowing in the sunshine.

I liked this rock with a sturdy iron ring attached, but it didn’t seem to be anywhere that you’d want to tie up a boat.

Plant-wise, the field margin had quite a few flowers. I think this is Fumaria officinalis, Common Fumitory.

Difficult to see on these pictures, but I think the bract below the flower is shorter than the flower-stalk.

Then there was a spurge which may be Petty Spurge, but again I can’t really be sure from the picture.

Coming back, I went up the little path at the bridge, where the snowdrops will be. Lots of Japanese knotweed, not chopped down like the stands at the bridge, and lots of Chrysosplenium oppositifolium, opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage.

I was hoping it might be in flower…not quite yet.
It was good to get some sunshine – the birds must feel that too.

Tentsmuir unfrozen

The icy conditions have thawed, and the plants and mosses at Tentsmuir took my attention again.
The catkins on the alder tree have a long way to go before opening.

I was happy to find two plants flowering for wildflowerhour – first, what I thought was Bell Heather but which someone pointed out was Cross-leaved heath, Erica tetralix.

The second was Wood Sage.

At this time of year, the distant view of the trees is maybe better than the tired remains of flowering plants – the purple haze of twigs is just beautiful.

Then of course there are the mosses. I tried very hard to limit myself to one moss…came away with three. I had to take a bit of this orange one, just to confirm it wasn’t Tortula muralis. Which it isn’t. One day, I’ll sort out a positive ID for it, growing in little clumps on the grassy heath.

There was also a chocolate brown moss…

But the one I was focusing on was the orangey-brownish-green starry moss all over the inner dunes. Syntrichia ruralis subsp. ruraliformis, I’ve decided. It seems to have crept into the picture of the brown moss, but it’s getting a separate blog entry all to itself.

Then there was the quite unexpected sight of two Santas running across the sandbanks…but not many birds around today.

To finish with, a picture from earlier in the day when I had a proper look at a group of swans that I’d glimpsed in a field outside Guardbridge, and yes, they were Whoopers. Which was great news for the 2017 bird list!


Tentsmuir on a wintry afternoon.

The sun was low by 2 pm, which made for some great sand shadows and textures.

The sand told a story here…

The frost was lying on the beach, like pools of water.

The burn down to the sea was edged with ice.

Sculpted ice in the middle of the burn.

I liked this ice map.

There were ice sculptures lying on the beach.

It was so cold, walking along the beach in the wind. But so beautiful, with the low sun on the waves and making all sorts of textures on the beach.

Right along at the estuary, in the last of the sunshine, I found this little clump of Sea Rocket flowering away as if we hadn’t just had three December days of frost.

It was time to head back to the car, with the light fading fast.

Winter sunshine

Sunday was the most beautiful kind of winter’s day – sunshine, blue sky, no wind, earth “hard as iron” so no mud. I walked up from Ceres to Craigrothie, up to Hill of Tarvit, then back along the road to Ceres.

I was keeping an eye out for flowers in bloom, for wildflowerhour. That made me stop and look carefully at a holly tree, and yes, there was a little white flower there.

Holly must be followed by Ivy.

I liked the way the frost clung to the plants on the shady side of the path, like these nettles.

Ragwort isn’t usually a favourite, but it was glorious in the sunshine.

In the Hill of Tarvit woods, I liked the shadow trees on the smooth trunks of the beeches.

There was a wee mausoleum with interesting looking moss. I marked it down for another day, and headed back. To finish with, a picture of the ice stars on the car window.

Frost and flowers

It was a cold sunny morning and I set off along the cliffs at St Andrews, wondering if I would see any flowers apart from gorse. Which is not to undervalue gorse, brightening up the view.

I was taken with the frosty leaves, and collected a few pictures along the way. It showed up the deep grooves on the ribwort plantain leaves.

Decorated the moss and buttercup leaves.

It seemed to linger on some plants longer than others – thistles being one.

Down on the shore, even the seaweed was frosty.

And the rocks were icy.

This little robin was pecking about on a frozen pool down at the Rock and Spindle.

This is the liverwort growing where the little burn crosses the path, before the R&S. Lunularia cruciata, I think, with its little crescent-shaped gemmae cups.

Flower-wise, I was trying to do the Wildflowerhour winter challenge and find 10 flowers. I stuck at four for ages, but ended up with 12.

Windblown knapweed.

Green Alkanet (lots of it on the cliff path at R&S).

A rather stunning Red campion.

A terrible picture of a truly pathetic little Bloody Cranesbill (but the leaves were good!)

Oxeye daisy, with this one just coming into flower.

Red clover.

And I also found Hypocharis radicata, Hogweed, Dove’s-foot cranesbill, Sea Mayweed and Daisy. And Gorse of corse.

Not a day for lingering once the sun went away, but good to be out there all the same.