Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife


Geese and other things

I took a little walk up the side of the Eden at Guardbridge on this beautiful sunny morning, and the first bird I was was the Little Egret. Still such a treat to see it, even though it’s now a regular at the estuary.I could hear geese, and then saw them, hundreds, camped in the field across the river. Just too far for comfort with the binoculars. I tried some long-range photos.I think these are Pink-footed Geese – the colouring and the “wink wink” sound. Something scared them, and they all took to the air. Beautiful sight. Flower-wise, I only found a single Celandine, but the Scurvy Grass is nearly out. Oh, and how could I forget the gorse blooming in the sun, with a matching Yellowhammer on top? And a Flowering Currant, a lovely sign of spring. There was also an invisible Reed Bunting (one, two three…one, two, threefour), a tree full of Linnets, Redshanks among the gulls and oystercatchers on the mud, and a last look at the Little Egret.

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.

Who needs flowers and birds?

After the snow stopped and the sun came out, I thought a wee trip to Morton Lochs would be good – a chance to see some birds and maybe even a kingfisher?

The lochs were beautiful, partly frozen. But sadly lacking in excitement. The only birds I saw were coots, mallard, mute swans, moorhen – and I startled a heron and listened to a woodpecker. But I didn’t even see my favourite dabchick, never mind a kingfisher. However, the reed mace heads were a sight to see.

And the sunlight in the trees was magical, including these reflections in a flood pond.

Moving on to Guardbridge, I went to see if the University has really blocked access to the path along the estuary – and it has. But there were catkins to see, both hazel and alder.

And it always cheers me up to see pussy willows coming out, especially against a blue sky.

Finally, a lovely moss community growing on the edge of the road bridge over the Motray burn.

Maiden Pinks

Catch-up blog – saw these at the beginning of July, out on a walk with Pauline.

I went back to check later and even though there are no pale spots on the petals, I think these must be Maiden Pinks (Dianthus deltoides). So pretty. I’ve never seen them anywhere else.

Peace and quiet

I stopped off at Guardbridge, but the tide was in and the birds were few. Two nice pairs of Shelduck, and I stood and watched a willow warbler singing in a hawthorn bush. The twayblades are just showing, and the plant whose name I can never remember (Spring Beauty, Claytonia perfoliata) was still flowering on the bridge.

Down at Morton Lochs there was a van and men and a chainsaw near the hides. So I walked under the railway bridge and through the woods at the top of the small loch. Beautiful light among the trees, beautiful birdsong. I found the other hide and went in – so peaceful. A swan, a heron stalking with perfect control, two coots, two moorhens, a little grebe diving against a golden background of reeds and reed reflection. It was just what I needed.

(no Little Grebe in this shot!)

The dune slacks

It was one of those mornings where it couldn’t quite make up its mind to rain. I stopped at Guardbridge for a look – the tide was out and there were plenty of birds out on the mud, but out of range of the binoculars. Terns among them, I think. I didn’t go to see the flowers as there were dog walkers there before me and I’ve had enough of dogs recently.

So on to Tentsmuir, where I checked out the marsh pennywort, still there, still no bigger and still no sign of any flowers. The day was pearly grey, and the dune slacks were flooded, and there were some lovely effects with the pink plant and the pools.

But it was the stuff in the dune slack pools that raised the most questions.
There was some sort of algae?/blue scum on the water.
What are those blobby things? And are they fermenting?

At first I thought maybe rabbit droppings. But they had a skin, so then I wondered if they were eggs. But squishing a couple didn’t show up anything, and nor did the ones I found on dry land at the edge of the pool. They were quite firm – reminded me of seaweed bladders. I’ll just have to go back for another look…

And are those miniscule green leaves a very small moneywort plant? Or perhaps celery-leaved buttercup?

Finally, I found a plant that used to be a mystery but one which I believe has been solved. Which is always a good feeling.
Red Bartsia, I thought, with the confidence of someone tired of mysteries.

Down by the sewage works…

There’s a fantastic flower-filled piece of ground next to the sewage works in Guardbridge – it’s been turned into a nature reserve with a path and a seat, but I can’t imagine it’s much visited. It was a happy discovery when I did that most boring stretch of the coastal path last year. Anyway, it’s just coming into full glory just now, with viper’s bugloss and birdsfoot trefoil:


This was all very lovely, but on the way in there was another discovery:

Are they Twayblades?
I will have to find out.