Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife



Last Sunday, a warm but overcast day, and Pauline and I had a great walk from Lower Largo along to Shell Bay and back. We picked up a bag of plastic, but the beach was pretty clean.

Not many pictures, but there was a great spread of Upright Hedge Parsley and Knapweed in the dried-out dune grassland.

The tide was right out and we went to the tip of Ruddon’s point, where there was (Lesser Sea?) Spurrey.

The impact of the hot dry weather really hit home when we found dried up rock pools with salt deposits.

I’ve never seen this before – I’m sure the normal rainfall would usually dissolve these crystals.


Tentsmuir a few weeks ago

It’s been a bad year for blogging, but I’ll just bung these photos up and see what I remember about this walk on 22 June.

The first thing were the crowds of purple orchids, Northern Marsh I think, in the dunes.

I walked round the end of the dunes and had a lovely (distant) view of the seals at the edge of the beach.

Quite unusual to see them there instead of on a sandbank. I didn’t go nearer as I didn’t want to disturb them.

Birds in a pool.

These are Dunlin. There were Ringed Plovers too.

Coming back through the forest, Common Wintergreen.

A rather nice Hairy Thing

The sky was great. I love Tentsmuir.

Forfar Loch

A quick reminder of a lovely day out, first at Little Ballo (orchids, butterwort, fen bedstraw) and then at Forfar Loch. On the way down the path we found lots of Hedge Bedstraw, and stopped to puzzle over this Hypericum.

Decided it was Hairy St John’s-wort, Hypericum hirsutum, because the flower is paler than most hypericums, the plant is generally hairy, and the sepals are fringed with little black glands with stalks.

We also stopped to look at the deeply divided leaves of Musk Mallow, Malva moschata.

Weather could have been better, but it didn’t rain. There were glimpses of hares, deer, and great crested grebes, good company, and good scones at Glamis.

Holl and Harperleas

I feel out of practice, blogging. Where has the year gone? Today there was nothing in the diary and I went off to Holl reservoir to see what was going on.

Wood Crane’s-bill, Geranium sylvaticum was the star of the show, great swathes of it.

The Melancholy thistle is just coming into flower – I love it.

Even when it’s going over, it’s so beautiful.

The reservoir is very low, but there was still some water in the overflow, and lots of Lesser Spearwort with…well, I was reminded again how little I know about water-loving plants. There were rushes and sedges.

Think this one is Carex demissa, Common Yellow Sedge.

There were some mystery leaves on the far side – I wondered about figwort, but they look too round.

There was a delicate flowering grass (?)

Lots of Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta (4 stamens), with fertilised flowers just beginning to set seed.

I didn’t see the butterfly orchid or the Hairy Stonecrop, Sedum villosum.

Then I set off along the road towards the Bishop hill, but it didn’t go where I thought, so I turned off along a path that eventually led back to Harperleas reservoir. Some great views.

I was very happy to find Stag’s-horn Clubmoss, Lycopodium clavatum, growing all along the path.

I never realised how long its branches can be.

The white hairs are an identifier.

Then there were the butterflies, enjoying the only marsh thistle in the neighbourhood.

Think these are Dark Green Fritillaries.

I enjoyed it all very much.

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.