Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife

Coastal path

Business as usual in Kenly Den

It was a beautiful sunny morning and for once there was no howling gale. We walked down to the sea from Boarhills and it was so heartening to see all the spring flowers coming out, just as they should be. With most of them, it was the first time this year that I’ve seen them.

The first delight was Wood Anemone.


Then Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage, Chrysosplenium oppositifolium.

The male flowers of Dog’s Mercury.

Down at the sea, the first Scurvygrass flowers.

I wish I’d taken a picture of the sea, which was so clear and blue and sparkling.

Afterwards, I went down to St A and had a look at the birds. I liked the ripples these ducks were making.

The pavement plants are superb just now. I loved these little white Whitlow Grass flowers among the cobbles in North Street.

But the star of the show was the Rue-leaved Saxifrage, in flower. This picture makes me feel dizzy…


Snowdrop weather

So much for a nice sunny winter’s walk…

At least there were lots of beautiful big snowdrops at Kenly Den.


After the storm

It was still blowing strongly, but sunny and I went down to Elie to have another look at a mystery moss.

The stones at the beginning of the beach are all uncovered, and I don’t remember these large boulders?

The waves had been right up to the banking, and had left a mixture of gravel and sand behind. (Nice and easy to walk on.)

I loved the way the wind had splattered sand against the boulders, and piled up smooth mounds against them.

More pristine sand later on – before I walked on it.

There were lots of oystercatchers and some redshanks, but it wasn’t a day for birdwatching with binoculars. There was a little pipit-type bird not at all pleased to see me – it did a sideways dance along the shore.

Then I found my first Coltsfoot of the year. And it would never have been photographed if it hadn’t been the first, poor muddy squished thing. But a sign of better things to come.

The snowdrops are still cascading down the cliff, and it still looks odd to me.


The mystery moss was looking beautiful. Like a green velvet brain. Or something.

Coming back was much harder going, with the wind (and sometimes rain) in my face, but it was lovely to find this Celandine – the first this year apart from the Lade Braes one. Blowing all over the place, so it was difficult to get a sharp picture.

Finally, the sea turtle came into view. Or is it a snail?


January waves

Beautiful sunshine with a keen wind which meant bird-watching was kept to the minimum. And flowers were few and far between. Instead, today was all about the waves, blowing onshore in the breeze.

Two windsurfers were heading to the water, having some trouble with their sails. Butterfly men.

It was too cold to stay and watch them, but later I got a glimpse through the binoculars. Brave men.

After collecting a small moss sample from Ruddon’s point, I walked along Shell Bay with the wind behind me and the waves lively and sparkling in the light.

The walk along the foot of the cliffs was difficult, with sun in my eyes and that wind, but the sight of the waves crashing on the rocks was well worth it.

Felt I’d earned my lunch. And saw a kestrel hovering on the way home.


A beautiful end to 2019


What a perfect day. The frost didn’t melt in the shade, but the sun had some warmth. The sky was cloudless, and the sea was flat calm silvery blue with a dark blue horizon.


The dipper was singing as I came up to the metal bridge, so I stopped to listen. Then I saw a grey squirrel winding its way round a tree trunk. Flowers were few and far between, but the gorse was good.

I was hoping to see a ringed plover, but no luck. But I finally felt sure enough to add Corn bunting to this year’s list. And on the beach a little stonechat joined the fidgety rock(?) pipits.

I liked the clear line between the sand and the stones at the edge of the beach.

And this shell sand stone combination.

This frosty log had interesting stripes.

And although I try not to get too interested, I do love the seashore lichens too.

It was such a refreshing, calming sort of walk, even when the path stopped being completely deserted and other people came out to enjoy the day. The rocks looked so good in the low sun. This one appears to be a perfect balancing act – it’s hard to see how it’s supported.


Coming back, I tried to identify a large flock of small birds way too high in the trees. The branches were beautiful against the sky.


I resisted the moss and just took one picture of this plagiochila liverwort. The way it holds its leaves is so very elegant. I think it’s probably Plagiochila asplenoides but I’ve found both plagiochilas along the bank.

At the end / beginning of the path there’s a lovely shuttlecock fern showing no sign of frost damage.


Rainbow

I could have gone to Earlsferry, but went to Elie instead, hoping that the weather would hold long enough for a beach walk. Good choice!

The tide was high. The sky was dramatic.

Piles of seaweed on the shore. Not many birds, but I think I was looking at a turnstone (from the snatched shot of its back as it flew away).

Then a rainbow started to emerge next to the Isle of May.

It became so strong that I could see colours off to the sides, after indigo and red.

Then it became a full bow in front of me, a glowing arc of colour which I felt I could almost walk under.

The rain was blowing in my face but it was the best place to be, at that moment.

Eventually though I turned and headed back to the car. I hoped this picture would show the rain falling in the sunshine, but it will just have to remind me.

Took a slight detour round the headland where there were more lovely effects with the sun and the clouds.


Birds and flowers and waves and sunlight

Yesterday it poured and poured with rain and felt truly Novemberish. Today was a different world altogether, unbroken sunshine. I decided a beach walk would be best, as everywhere else is so wet.

Down at Lower Largo the sea was sparkling, the beach was pretty empty and there were sanderlings.


But I’m getting ahead of myself. On the way along the railway track, there were loads of flowers to look at, including Greater Knapweed – not just one lonely flower, either.


There was also Fairy Flax, growing tall by scrambling through the grass clump.

And one remaining Meadow Cranesbill flower.

On the beach, piles of shells.

I walked along to Ruddons Point, enjoying the empty beach and watching the sun blow spray off to tops of the waves.
Some magic moments.

I found more of these weird “jelly ears” – think they’re called Sea squirts but haven’t found out anything much about them.

There’s always so much to see. I loved this lacy razor shell.

At the saltmarsh, I picked up about 50 cotton bud sticks. Now wondering what to do with them. On Ruddon’s Point, the tank traps haven’t fallen yet.

I had a look at the mosses on the traps and also on the hillock – will have to go back. Today wasn’t a moss day.

There were two chaffinches and two pipits (I think) sunbathing on the footbridge, so nice to see. Got a picture of one of them.

Coming back, saw what looks like the beginning of a fightback for the eroding dunes – beginning to stabilise at the base?


Finally, this little Aster caught my eye, but I didn’t look properly – now not sure whether Sea Aster or Michaelmas Daisy, and can’t tell from the photo.

Just have to go back…


Highs and Lows

I thought it was going to be a sunny walk down at Kincraig, but the weather didn’t play ball (although there were some beautiful light effects out on the Forth).

I was happy to find this lovely Viper’s Bugloss at the top of the field, with red clover.

It was nice to hear Eider ducks, and to see the males back in their smart plumage. And I promised myself I’d go back soon for another look at the moss on the rocks at the foot of the cliffs (with handlens next time).

This one is the Schistidium maritimum.

But my mood took a dip when I saw a Sea Wormwood plant ploughed up at the side of the path.

OK, there are more plants on the other side of the path, but the farmer seems to plough right up to the path now, leaving no room for the field margin plants like scarlet pimpernel.

It didn’t help to see the poor ribbon tree covered with old socks and plastic bags – it looks so tatty and seems disrespectful to the tree. Even the ribbons aren’t a good idea – this one is cutting into the bark.

Anyway, with some difficulty I removed one of the plastic bags and felt slightly better. But then I watched cockle pickers make their way to shore with huge heavy sacks of cockles. I don’t know if it’s illegal. It certainly looks unsustainable. To add insult to my injured peace of mind, there was a quick shower of rain (waterproof in car…).

However, I cheered up on the walk back because the flowers are still good, and there was more VB to admire.


I also found these ceramic looking Earth Stars beside the path.


Back at the car park, I decided to have another look at the field edge going up the hill. It’s a spectacular display just now. (Which perhaps makes up for the one at the top of the hill!)

I saw Red Campion, Field Pansy, Cow Parsley, Hedge Mustard, Annual and Prickly Sow Thistle, a Fumitory, Sun Spurge, Poppies, and then those yellow brassicas…I think it’s Rape.


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.


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.

.
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.