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Wonderful time of the year

I went down to Shell Bay to have another look at the hairy little white thing, and everything was in bloom. The Lesser Meadow-rue, the Annual Wall Rocket, the Sea Campion, the Viper’s Bugloss…

Such a stunner, with it’s scorpion buds opening pink, then turning that ethereal blue.

The little white thing is very beautiful, close-up.

With its hairy upright stem leaves, I think it’s Hairy Rock-cress, Arabis hirsuta.

The flag irises were coming out.

On Ruddon’s point, I found orchids, and lots of Quaking Grass and Kidney Vetch.

And a mystery plant – Opium poppy? Very cabbagey to feel.

The ducks were distant, but I could see moulting male eiders among them.

There were some lovely grasses too – still to ID.

Astragalus danicus. Thyme covered in bees. A bank of lemon yellow Pilosella.

The rain stayed off, but it was never a certainty. The weather effects on sea and sky were good though.

I liked this view of Berwick Law through the Marram grass.


Bits and bobs from Guardbridge

Welted Thistle, Carduus crispus, all along the edge of the University’s fence.

Scarlet Pimpernel – wasn’t expecting to find it here.

There were at least 10 spikes of orchid. Possibly Northern Marsh Orchid.

Lots and lots of Lesser Twayblade in the woods.

Also went to Tayport to look for the Great Lettuce, which has mysteriously disappeared.

Sea Club-rush, Bolboschoenus maritimus down on the salt marsh.

“No Flowers” walk Lower Largo to Elie

It was never going to work, but I thought I’d have a break from poring over flowers and trying to work out IDs, and just enjoy a walk along the coast.

I lasted until Cocklemill burn, when I weakened and went off to have a wee look for the Frog Orchids. Didn’t find any, but got intrigued by the Quaking Grass heads emerging like peas from a pod.

Then I couldn’t pass by this sweet little hairy white flower – still not sure what it is, seeking help.

I made it all the way across Shell Bay, where there was a sleeping duck with some vivid turquoise feathers.

Then going up the cliffs, I stopped for lunch on the top bench and it was all over. Burnet rose, Rock rose, all sorts of lovely things.

Kidney Vetch

I watched four female Eider ducks lead a group of 10 ducklings towards the rocks. The swell was heavy and I couldn’t believe that they would make it safely on to dry ground – but eventually they did, and got a good peck at the weed.

Later I saw four of them swimming away with one female.

The top of the cliff had lots of Geranium sanguineum, more than I remember, (not in pic) and more rock rose and burnet.

Coming down, I could see the weather changing, but thought I would have time to follow the coast round the golf course. And I was glad I did, because I found this wee thing.

Common Fiddleneck – not so common.

Red and green

A bright moment on a dreich day at Auchterarder.

The red spikes are a gall, Eriophyes tilia, which shows up beautifully on the fresh young leaves of the lime tree.
They look a little bit like a colony of red penguins on a green ice field – or is that just me?

Just because I’ve never seen anything like this before.

Coralroot orchid! Twinflower!

We set out to get an idea of where to start our survey of Coralroot orchid at Tentsmuir, but made a little detour first…

So lovely to see it again.

The patch seems bigger than ever, but most of it is flowerless. Which makes the flowers all the more special.

Then we went over to the Great Slack and started tracing grid references. We found lots of small beauties, including Field Woodrush.

Deep blue Milkwort.


Carnation Sedge, Carex panacea.

And then Margaret found the first one.

And I found the second one (but it wasn’t so photogenic). Margaret found lots of Pyrola leaves.

EC’s notes say that the orchid was often found in association with Pyrola.

As a bonus, we found lots of Adder’s-tongue Fern.

Rain (and time) stopped play, but we’ll be back. So happy that we found even just a couple of spikes.

Kingsbarns coast

A “Wednesday” walk, out on my own in beautiful weather on one of my favourite walks. Not recording plants, just enjoying them flowering all over the place – no more winter days getting excited over single specimens, there are now great drifts of pink campion and cow parsley, bird’s-foot trefoil and plantain. And lovely Thrift.

And Sea Sandwort coming into flower all over the place.

It wasn’t just the plants, I was fascinated by the variety of seaweed in this pool.

Loved this delicate pink one.

The green-fringed pool was a bit creepy though.

The rocks are amazing on this stretch of the coast. This one is gradually eroding away from its flat surface, leaving little outcrops.

I liked the rock behind this pink campion.

And I liked the lichen on the wall.

It was lovely to find these deep red poppies (not dubium) at the edge of this field.

I went up to see what I’d missed in the HB purge on the Kenly burn. Did a bit more weeding. Wished I’d remembered to bring gloves…

Bird-wise, I saw my first terns of the year, several reed buntings and a linnet. Not sure if I saw a twite.

Lunch view.

Things to remember. A colony of cowslips. The “sculpture” on the rock.

Lovely pilosella

Recording 8 May (Cupar)

Just a reminder of a good morning recording on my doorstep, but as ever, discovering things I didn’t know were there.

I set out along the road to St Mary’s Farm, recording as I went. Found a little footbridge into an uncultivated area where there was Comfrey.

After a session with the book, I’ve decided to record as Symphytum tuberosum. The only other option on the sheet was uplandicum, which it’s not.

In the hedgerow I found a hawthorn which didn’t look like the usual – the leaves were shinier and rounder.

After some help from Twitter, I checked the styles and yes, there were two – so Crataegus laevigata, not monogyna.

I found a waymarked path which I didn’t know was there, and followed it up the side of a field to a hidden meadow full of yellow flowers. Too late for daffs. I was delighted to find that they were cowslips.

In the same field is a pond with bulrushes, or reedmace, and I’ll go back to explore further with better footwear.

I tried to ID some grasses, but must learn more about them. Loved this one, seen close-up ( Meadow Foxtail?).

And I found a mystery sedum which might be Roseroot, but not sure. So as ever, will have to go back…

Tentsmuir in April

Oh dear, catch up blog, never good to let it go so long. But on 25 April, the following caught my eye at Tentsmuir (right hand walk, avoiding potential distress from the new visitor centre).

I enjoyed that empty beach feeling and watched some sanderlings. St Andrews was hazy in the distance.

The tiny, tiny spring flowers were out in the dunes – only noticeable when I got down on my knees to look at something else.

Think this one is Spring Vetch (bottle top for scale), Vicia Lathyroides – although it seems on the hairy side.

This is the beautiful little Early Forget-me-not, Myosotis ramossissima

I also found these distinctive spotted hairy leaves – possibly Spotted Hawkweed, Hieracium maculatum.

Some of the dunes had been burnt – at first I thought someone’s bonfire had got out of control, then I wondered if it was done deliberately, to manage something unwelcome like the Sea Buckthorn (which I would never admit to being unwelcome!)

Also not so good to find was this bunch of balloons, which I popped and disposed of. There were two other balloons too, in other places. Seems to be more common now.

I walked to the estuary end.

On the way back, I watched a little bird which made the oddest farty noise followed by a high pitched squeak. I was desperate to get a photo so tried a long range shot that I couldn’t really see in the viewfinder…turns out I got the bird on the block next to the one I was trying to capture, which may or may not be related.

Kenly Burn in May

After watching a hare running across a field, I walked down to the shore enjoying the spring flowers. The bluebells in the wood aren’t as “abundant” as they used to be, but the Marsh Marigold is hanging on even though its pool has dried up.

There was Sweet Woodruff and violets and celandine and a few late primroses,

There were Doronicums peeping up from below the path.

There were ferns emerging everywhere.

I found a pretty pairing of Alliaria petiolata and Honesty.

But – photobombed by an unwelcome addition, a Himalyan Balsam seedling. They were everywhere among the plants at one spot. I scrambled down and did some serious weeding. I would never normally do this, but there were no HB plants here 3 years ago, and I’ve seen what happened at Newburgh.

I came to the conclusion that HB encourages nettles, as each clump seemed to have a nettle clump next to/among it. Gloves next time. Oh, and I also pulled out a Japanese knotweed seedling.

I worried about why I was doing this, when there are great spreads of Dogs Mercury along the burn, blocking out all the other plants just as effectively. But the thought of the path at Newburgh seemed reason enough. I did a thorough job, but there are bound to be some that I missed or are still to germinate.

Down at the coast there were Greater and Lesser Black-backed Gulls to compare, and I noticed that the bluebells extend beyond the wood and down to the shore, in a faint blue haze.

I found some pink bells which seemed to be the genuine Hyacinthoides non-scripta, with narrow leaves and creamy anthers. Need to check this.

Further on, a little Wheatear. I had my lunch down where the rock with the ring is – there was a lovely clump of Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

View from the lunch spot was a rocky landscape.

I was intrigued by this patch of texture emerging from the sanded smooth surface of the rock.

I liked the way the lichen looks like a snowy cloth over the stone, draping beautifully over the edges.

The detail is fantastic too.

Coming back, the mossy logs looked quite different without the sun on them. The Dipper appeared. It was all so beautiful and green, and the sound of the water was the finishing touch.

(And the HB in this picture is gone!)

Up above Cupar

Catching up from a couple of weeks ago.

I ambled up the Owlets Wood path, stopping to listen to yet another invisible chiffchaff in the trees – but this time, I managed to spot him singing. Result. And of course, now that I’d seen one through leaves and branches, on the way back one came and sang from a branch just a few feet away, giving me a perfect view.

However, no pictures. Garlic Hedge Mustard, Alliaria petiolata, is much easier to photograph. This was the first I’ve seen in flower this year.

At the top of the woods, I found a squirrel’s dining table, complete with chewed pine cone.

I turned left along to the road, and stopped again to listen to an invisible willow warbler (in a willow tree). But no luck this time. I thought the track should continue on the other side of the road, going up the hill – but the field was ploughed. However, I kept going, avoiding the crop, and at the top squeezed through a fence into a grassy field leading to the line of beeches I’ve often admired from a distance.

I followed the path next to them just to see where it might lead – will explore this more another time. Then I backtracked and went up to the top of the hill. Most days there would be wonderful views, but the mist was in and the air was hazy.

In the uncultivated ground at the top, there was a spread of Corn Spurrey.

Also, lots of Cerastium glomeratum (I think, because of cluster of flowers in the flower head) with Speedwell and Red Dead-nettle. Somewhere to go back, later.

Then I headed over the grassy field (stopping to look at some moss, which I have decided isn’t Brachythecium albicans, but don’t yet know what it is, and spotting Parsley Piert with it).

There was a gate through to a path downhill through the trees, lovely with new leaves, and this took me to the track back to the road – not where I thought it was. I left further exploration for another day, and headed for the road. Found this mystery seedling.

And another.

Then I looked in the ditch at the side and there were thousands, all along it. The penny dropped – Himalayan Balsam.

Coming back down the Owlet Wood path, there were lots of one of my favourites – Three Nerved Sandwort, Moehringia trinvera.