Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife

Coastal path

Brent goose


I set off to look at the mosses on the Kenly burn path, with the wind blowing strongly. And immediately got distracted by this fine caterpillar.

I think it’s an Elephant Hawk-moth. The largest caterpillar I remember seeing. The poor thing was being blown about on the road, so I (helpfully?) put it on to the grass verge.

In the trees it was calmer, but this tree – cherry? – had splintered and collapsed quite recently from the look of it.


I wonder how this place will look in a hundred years’ time? The ivy is taking over and many of the trees look unsteady. But then, I remember when it was a bluebell wood – change happens.

The moss was looking good.


Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed are unwelcome additions. I pulled some more plants out, but they’re winning.

Down at the shore, there were mallards, gulls, and a dark-necked bird swimming on its own along the rocky coastline. It turned out to be a Brent Goose. Just one.


I could hear other geese, and sure enough, the big flock of Canada geese were having a good feed in the stubble field.

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Rocks, crab, geese, haar

I went off to Boarhills to see whether my Himalayn Balsam weeding had had any effect. Which it had, but there was still lots in flower.

At the end of the path, the haar was rolling in. I could hear honking, and just made out a flock of Canada geese at the mouth of the burn.

I ate my tangerine on the headland, admiring the rocky landscape which had an end of the world feel to it, with the haar hiding all signs of civilisation.

Some of the rocks are have little stubbly columns all over the surface, like miniature stone forests or cities.

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This one had a stone flap.

The pools varied too. Some were clean and clear – this one with the biggest pool crab I’ve ever seen.

Some were scummy.

This one had rock eggs at the bottom.

No sea anemones here, but lots of sea snails and shrimps.

The mist began to lift, and on the way back I got a clear view of the geese, and a flock of lapwings came in to land on the rocks.


The ever-changing Tentsmuir

The first new thing was finding a boggy area in the dunes to the right, which I’ve never noticed before.

It seemed well established with Carex otrubae (I think) and other marsh plants.

Along the path, the Grass of Parnassus shone out among the Eyebright and Tormentil. But I failed to get a nice close-up. I was a bit distracted by the beastie showing up on this picture, which was scuttling about on the lens but invisible from the front. I was sure it was a tick…

There was a giant fungi, maybe a puffball.

The “pool” is now a thing of the past – no open water now, although I thought I heard a moorhen among the reeds. I was intrigued by the dock leaves growing in shuttlecocks at the edge – possibly Northern dock, but I didn’t look for fruits.


Managed to nearly brain myself by crouching down to look at this wee thing with an open rucksack – binoculars hurt! Sagina nodosa, Knotted Pearlwort.

At the far end, I was happy to find another favourite – Astragalus danicus, Purple Milkwort. And happy too that I got a nice picture.

The sand stretched out with no human footsteps, just the marks left by rabbits and “something else”.

I liked the shadows cast by the Marram grass.

On the beach, I sat and looked at the sandbanks stretching away out into the sea. I’m sure they’re more extensive now. Surprised to see reeds beginning to grow in the sand, with the Rye grass. (Rye? Lyme!)

It was nice seeing the classic combination of Sea Rocket, Orache and Prickly Saltwort in clumps along the top of the sand. I managed to get a picture of the teeny tiny Saltwort flowers.

The fruits almost look like flowers in their own right.

More changes – the strip of land between the shore and the trees seems to have narrowed – I’m sure it used to be twice as wide. There were eroded chunks at the edge.

And the trees used to be further inland? Several dead ones at the edge of the sand.

I enjoyed walking back along the sand, but was upset to see a collie dog being allowed to chase the terns at the water’s edge. No wonder they don’t breed here any more. I went inland to escape the sight, and got distracted by dragonflies – some red, some greenish brown.

Other lovely things:


Pyramidal orchids

A lovely sunny Monday morning and I went off to Elie to see the Pyramid(al) orchids after encouraging reports from Mgt. And they were wonderful. The cows are off the field, and standing at the fence I could see at least 40, in one corner.


There were quite a few (at least a dozen) scattered about in the dunes and beside the path.

So nice to see them!

Also doing much better than I feared is the Lucerne. Last year it had been strimmed and the bracken was taking over. This year, still fighting with the bracken but around 10 plants, some scrambling up through the fronds, and generally looking healthy.

There were all sorts of lovely things to look at. Baby linnets with a parent, pink-striped bindweed, scabious in full bloom. Goatsbeard seedheads with red clover.

Summer sow thistles.

Behind the Lucerne, the field was full of Meadow Foxtail with its purple flowering heads.

I had a look at the back of this flower to see if I could find hairy backs to the petals…which would be an indicator for Torilis japonica, Upright Hedge Parsley. I get so confused with this one and Rough Chervil, Chaerophyllum temulum. But Rough Chervil has purple-spotted stems, and this plant didn’t. So although no signs of hairy petals, I think this one is Upright Hedge Parsley.

Wondered about this willowherb, growing in the marshy bit beside the path. It might be Hoary Willowherb, Epilobium parviflorum. Need another look.

Other things that caught my eye. On the beach, I noticed how the Sea Rocket and Orache are growing in neat clumps, like a proper little garden.

And a large crab is missing a claw.

Along at Newark castle, I headed for the shade under the cliff to eat my snack. Noticed these rather creepy creatures scuttling about on the stone.

Then I went to take a photo of the moss surrounding this little cleft in the rock and horror of horrors there were more beasties inside!

But the walk finished on a much nicer note, with this red-sailed boat moving slowly across the face of the Bass Rock.


Time off

Life has been so busy lately, and I’ve missed my days pottering about the countryside. So on Monday evening I seized my chance and went down to Shell Bay to enjoy a sunny evening.

I discovered that the mystery plant from a few weeks ago is what it appeared to be – an opium poppy, looking very out of place.

Must have seeded itself from the poppies someone has planted at the “shrine”.

I went up the little hillock – have never done this before. Good view.

There was also a nice little rock garden on its slopes.

The flowers are amazing at this time of year. This is the path through the dunes.

If I was asked “Meadow or Bloody?” (Cranesbill), I wouldn’t know which to choose.


There were tall stems of Valerian in the dunes, such a sweet flower. And the pure green-white flowers of bladder campion.


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.


“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.


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


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!)


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.