Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife


A new path

Catch-up on my Sunday walk a week ago. The sun was shining (which it hadn’t been doing much) and it was good to walk along the beach at Earlsferry. But the cliff path was so muddy and slippery that I decided to go down the back and find another way.

Here are the highlights:
The first of the Scurvygrass flowers.

The most beautiful little Field mouse, breakfasting on grass shoots.

The path along the drainage ditch that took me back to the road.

Frogspawn? Maybe a heron or something dragged it out of the ditch?


Spring at last

Just a quick visit to Morton Lochs, but it made me realise spring has sprung – there were chiffchaffs and coltsfoot, birdsong everywhere, and I wasn’t wearing gloves.

On the lochs, there were a couple of Canada geese, which I’ve not seen there before.

The reflections in the pool were amazing.

Kiel’s Den

After a bit of round-the-houses, I found the entrance to Kiel’s Den, and began wondering why I’ve never explored it before. I walked along thinking of Charles Howie. There were some huge coppiced lime trees – maybe they were there in his time?

Dog’s Mercury isn’t my favourite, but it’s just nice to find some proper spring flowers. With cubist buds.

There wasn’t anything else flowering today, but lots to look at even so. First, these amazing suede-finish fungi which I think are Jelly Ears.

Then there were mosses galore. Charles Howie would know what they all were. I recognised this one as Thamnobryum alopecurum, with the branches all coming off a “trunk” at the top.

I found a very washed-out Lophocolia bidentata (I think), growing among Mnium hornum (I think).

This lichen catches my eye every time I see it. I’ve now looked it up: Cladonia coniocraea.

There were some good shapes on the rotten stumps and trunks:

And this fallen giant is now host to two young silver birches. (I expect Charles Howie was familiar with it when alive.)

I also found the largest thuidium tamariscinum I’ve ever seen – rivalling the ferns for size.

Coming back, I was pleased to find a shortcut, which took me past more moss.

And past a wall covered so beautifully in lichen, moss and stonecrop. Definitely one to have another look at later in the year.

There were glimpses of the silver sea and hazy coastal path, and all in all I felt it was such a lovely corner of Fife.
And I think this counts as my March “somewhere else”, even though it’s on my doorstep.

Two kinds of Butterbur

After the snow, it was so good to get out and see some green (although the Tay at Newburgh was beautifully misty and atmospheric).

Lots of flotsam went drifting past, including an entire chunk of the banking.

There were signs of spring like little Elder leaves and bursting buds of the flowering currant. But I liked these leaves best – Shining Crane’s-bill, Geranium lucidum.

The moss on the stones at the river edge was the most beautiful thing.

I went back by Lindores, where the Giant Butterbur, Petasites japonicus, was flowering over the wall, but the verge where I found it before was completely buried in snow.

Such a weird-looking plant.

I then went on to Kettlebridge to see whether the White Butterbur, Petasites albus, was flowering. It was.

This plant could be so beautiful, but unless you go close up, it looks a bit scruffy and dirty. I like it though.

Peace among the mosses

It’s been a difficult week and I was so glad to escape to Craighall Den for some peaceful frosty sunshine, birdsong, and mosses.

I’ll cover the mosses in detail in the other blog, but I really enjoyed looking at them and thinking about their habitats.

There were lots of snowdrops too.

And I was so pleased when I looked for, and found, lots of the tiny pink hazel flowers among the catkins. (But came away with only one decent picture…)

It was such a beautiful day. I wished I could have gone exploring “somewhere else”, but I went on to the end of the field beyond the den, where I’ve never been, and this will have to do for February.

Elie and Ardross

Three pictures from a Sunday morning walk.

Tentsmuir winter magic

Down at Tentsmuir today, there was a perishing cold wind but it was (mostly) sunny.

The first thing I saw wasn’t so good – huge tyre tracks all over the inner dunes. Some flooded with water.

Then I realised that all the rogue trees have gone. The view restored to what it used to be.

So I suppose that’s a good thing, and I know some plants thrive on a bit of soil disruption – but I wish they’d been a bit more mindful of where the tractors were driven. Along at the big pool, I found a smouldering pile of half-burnt trees.

Anyway, on to happier things. Two shelducks were pecking about in the pool, reflected in the water.
I found lots of good moss (including capsules on the Syntrichia) but I’ll keep most of it for the moss blog. There was an amazingly twisty tree, with thick moss on the branches.

The moor was so wintery, with blackened heather and silver lichen.
I love this – for some reason, it reminds me of the Monarch of the Glen…

I went over to see whether the alder catkins might have opened. Realised I don’t really know what they look like, open – but I think these have a way to go.

Coming back, pleased to see a couple of little flowers lingering on the wood sage.

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.

Winter beach and birds

It was this kind of a day.

But at least there was no wind to speak of, and the rain held off.

I went along the beach from Lower Largo to see what birds were about. There were Eider ducks in the sea at Largo, huge flocks of oystercatcher, and loads of gulls. A group of wigeon, making their squeaky toy noises.

I photographed a group of the unidentified waders.

I think it’s bar-tailed godwit – but not very confident about the difference between bar- and black-tailed. Short neck made me plump for bar-tailed, but the picture was too distant to be much use.

No problem at all in identifying the wee sanderlings, scurrying about like clockwork toys.

I just love them.

Along at the end of the beach, I picked up a whole bag of plastic litter but there was so much…however, I also found this lovely crab claw.

At Ruddon’s point, I had a look at the mosses on the tank traps – will be covering them in the other blog, but there are enough there to take up a whole morning. Maybe when it’s warm, I’ll go down with the book and see what can be identified.

I liked the wintry leaves of this grass (is it a grass?)

Coming back, the sun almost broke through the murky sky.

The only flowering plant I saw was gorse.

I was hoping for a primrose to annoy Susan.

Boxing day at Boarhills

It was a beautiful (cold) sunny day.

I walked down from Boarhills, didn’t go past the salmon bothy. No exotic birds at the mouth of the burn today, but there was a yellowhammer absolutely glowing in the sunshine.

I liked this rock with a sturdy iron ring attached, but it didn’t seem to be anywhere that you’d want to tie up a boat.

Plant-wise, the field margin had quite a few flowers. I think this is Fumaria officinalis, Common Fumitory.

Difficult to see on these pictures, but I think the bract below the flower is shorter than the flower-stalk.

Then there was a spurge which may be Petty Spurge, but again I can’t really be sure from the picture.

Coming back, I went up the little path at the bridge, where the snowdrops will be. Lots of Japanese knotweed, not chopped down like the stands at the bridge, and lots of Chrysosplenium oppositifolium, opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage.

I was hoping it might be in flower…not quite yet.
It was good to get some sunshine – the birds must feel that too.