Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife

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Shell Bay

I feel I haven’t done any walking or blogging for ages. Today I had a short potter down at Shell Bay – very slowly at first, because of the migraine pill I’d taken. But that paid off, with baby rabbits near the car, and then sharing the path with a deer.

I could hear curlews, and eventually spotted about 50 of them in a field. Nice to see them in such numbers. The new golf course doesn’t seem to be getting on very well – they have hoses going but it looks pretty sparse.

I had another look at the “furry moss”.

It seems to grow all along the banking next to a short stretch of the path, but only there.

There were no birds at the sea edge. The tide was right up.

The weather varied from sunshine to dark clouds, with quite a wind.

But it was mild, and there were spring flowers around. Celandines, Speedwell, and I was pleased to find my first Thrift and Scurvygrass of the year.

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February springtime

The last of the slightly freaky but wonderful spring days. It was warm and sunny out on Kinkell Braes. There were celandines shining gold, and my first coltsfoot of the year.

The tide was out and I went scrambling along the shore line, thinking that one of these days I won’t be doing this any more, but today isn’t that day…The stripy rocks are amazing.

I was clambering over the rocks when a bee fell at my feet, dozy and stunned.

Wings still creased.

It crawled on to my boot, but in the end I moved it back on to the grass, which seemed a better place for it than the rocks.

I hope it found some food – there was nothing around.

At the Fulmar cliff (where there aren’t fulmars any more) I watched a pair of birds way out at sea, coming closer to the rocks. A couple of long distance shots and later some friendly advice from an expert – Red Breasted Merganser.


I decided to push on to see if the primroses were out at Shelduck bay. Which they were.

Buddo Ness was looking very elemental.

The Dwarf Mallow flowers from a few weeks ago have disappeared – they must have realised it was still winter. I like the little window in the rock.

Coming back, I saw several primroses that I’d walked past on the way…could have saved my poor sore feet, but it was such a lovely day to be out that I wasn’t sorry.

Lichen mixed with moss on a marker stone.

It felt like an April walk, not February.

Frost


Tentsmuir was sunny, clear, blue, sparkling with frost. No wind. Fantastic.

No chance of plant-spotting, but I loved how the frost transformed everything.

Frosty orchid seedheads.

Frosty lichen.

Frosty beach, white and sparkling right down to the sea.


There were great patterns on the sand, where the frost was lingering.


I found a swathe of (frosty) razor shells.

At the point, the waves were doing strange things, crossing over each other and doubling back.


Very few birds today, just a welcome little wren and these ones in the distance.

There were patterns in the ice of the frozen pool I walked over (carefully, with the ice creaking and groaning).

I went over to look at the alders, but the catkins are tight shut. However, the grasses on the moor were wonderful.


Just perfect.

A short walk at Earlsferry

What a fabulous winter’s day, all cloudless blue sky and frost. I went down to Earlsferry and walked along the beach.

At the far end, there seems to have been quite an erosion of sand.


I went looking for the Sea Kale, Crambe maritima, and couldn’t find it. Washed away? Or underground for winter? I found a dead seed stalk and an ambiguous kind of green spike which just might be a sign that it’s still there.


Not much else to blog about. No flowers. Some good shiny leaves of scurvy grass. Some moss growing at the top of the beach.


The rock columns showed up well in the low sunlight.

Birds and frost and sun – Loch Leven

The most beautiful kind of winter’s day, with sunshine and frost, blue skies and colour everywhere. I went to Kinross and headed off round Loch Leven, to see what birds were around.

The views across the Loch were wonderful, but the light on the water made it hard to pick out detail on the birds.

The tiny black dots here were tufted duck. Most of the swans I saw were like white boulders in the water, feeding steadily. There were Goldeneye and Wigeon, and possibly Pochard. But the sun was too dazzling to look for long.

The moss was thick and beautiful in the woods.

There was also a rather nice lichen which might be Parmelia.

I watched a Jay for some time. And I was so pleased to see Pussy Willows full out, with this Heron:

I went as far as Loch Leven’s Larder where I had a peculiarly tasteless cheese scone which came with strawberry jam (an improvement). Then I had a look at the geese in a nearby field.

Greylag, I think.

Coming back, there were several Reed Buntings on fence wires and in the trees.

I was intrigued by this overgrown chapel, but didn’t stop to explore.

It turns out to be Orwell Kirk, which gave me a jolt when I thought it was the church of one of my botanist ministers, but he would have been based at the replacement church, built with stone from this old building.

January bleakness

No sun today. I walked around the airfield to the end of the Eden estuary, all bleached out bleakness, thinking about what happened 40 years ago today.

The sand was half-frozen, which made for easier walking, and there was frost on some of the dunes.

I puzzled over these birds but with help from expert Mary, have got them down as Bar-tailed Godwit. Because they don’t look like Naomi Campbell, and are on a Fife estuary. With upturned beaks.


I also saw a tree creeper, long-tailed tits and a very shy robin.

On the path through the forest, I noticed a reddish-brown tinge on a fallen pine trunk.

A tiny liverwort, which will have to be studied properly tomorrow.

Coming back, the alder and hazel catkins were tightly closed, but there was a little viburnum (I think) scrambling through the thorny branches of a rose.

More winter light


After the misty sunshine of Wednesday, there was a different kind of magic on Sunday, looking out from Kincraig cliffs across the Forth.

The back-lit cloud was outlining Berwick Law and spilling over its shoulder.


It was so peaceful and beautiful, especially with the Eiders cooing to each other.


Not many flowers but I managed my 20 birds and flowers combined, including this lovely sun spurge, with its toothed leaves showing up well.

I was trying to resist moss…but these textures were too eye-catching to pass by.

(And I came away with a strange purple bryophyte to identify, but that’s another story.)

Winter light

I was lucky with the tide at Tayport, right in, on the turn. And there was the Little Egret (Little Egret!) on the shore, with all the others. Just a distant white blob in this picture.

Lots of gulls, etc.

The light was magical, with mist lingering over the fields and sunbeams slanting through the trees.



The Tay was truly silvery, and a superb setting for the Shelducks.

I was trying not to look at moss, but couldn’t resist this colony on a tank trap.

I always wonder how long this one will stay upright:

I went up to the dunes at the point, and found a stretch of sand which I don’t remember being there before. Is the sand shifting again?

Round the end of the last dune, the sea was close and powerful.



There were sand shadow shapes to admire.

And a long tide line of sea urchin shells, washed up after the high winds.

Eventually I headed over to the path and set off for home. There was a perfectly Christmassy lichen-covered hawthorne bush.

And two beautiful webs catching the sun and the mist drops in the heather.

I set off thinking I’d aim for 20 flowers and birds. This is what I found: Sparrow, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Wood Pigeon, Little Egret, Shelduck, Mallard, Curlew, Redshank, Sanderling, Gorse, Broom, Heather, Mayweed, Cormorant, Oystercatcher, Lesser black backed gull, Wigeon, Robin and a load of other gulls.

Kilminning in December

I went out on Sunday to see whether Kilminning would work well for our new year plant hunt (and to enjoy a beautiful sunny winter’s day).

There wasn’t much flowering at Kilminning – the sheep were doing a great job, chewing away. It made me appreciate this little clump of Mayweed.

The shape of the rocks always intrigues me.

No dolphins today, and not many birds, but there was a nice pair of stonechats. Round the headland, I thought I saw a bird sitting out on a rock, but too far to identify.

Then I began to wonder as the waves broke over it and it never moved…the photograph tells the true story – not a bird, just an old post.
The walk back down to the car park wasn’t the most peaceful in the world, with go-carts on one side and screeching car tyres on the other. But I found Mallow leaves, then spotted this yellow plant which I couldn’t place.

Little narrow leaves.

After poring over the books and checking with those who know, it’s come out as Senecio inaequidens, Narrow leaved Ragwort. Which is apparently spreading from the Inverkeithing area, but not common round here, so I was happy with this discovery.
Something else which made me happy was finding pussy willows almost out:

And one which has definitely reached full pussy willow status!

Somewhere else (in my own backyard)

I went up the hill to the listening station with a vague memory of a circular walk years ago with mum, which comes out above the hospital. Instead, I followed the muddly, puddly track through the fields which took me to a sign-post for a “viewpoint”.

The path went up to a farm with a wonderful Mullein still flowering.

Then another muddy track which took me to…

I was just snorting when I saw steps going up..

The actual view point lived up to its name, a little platform with 360 degree views to the horizon and plaques naming the features in the landscape. I didn’t know this was Craiglug, what a fantastic name!

It was quiet November hazy sun at first, with dramatic skies.

Quite a few flowers were still blooming, including Hairy Tare, with its hairy seed pods (2 seeds).


But this was the most spectacular “flower”: