Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife

Coastal path

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.

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“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.


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.


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.


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!