Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife


Winter sunshine

Sunday was the most beautiful kind of winter’s day – sunshine, blue sky, no wind, earth “hard as iron” so no mud. I walked up from Ceres to Craigrothie, up to Hill of Tarvit, then back along the road to Ceres.

I was keeping an eye out for flowers in bloom, for wildflowerhour. That made me stop and look carefully at a holly tree, and yes, there was a little white flower there.

Holly must be followed by Ivy.

I liked the way the frost clung to the plants on the shady side of the path, like these nettles.

Ragwort isn’t usually a favourite, but it was glorious in the sunshine.

In the Hill of Tarvit woods, I liked the shadow trees on the smooth trunks of the beeches.

There was a wee mausoleum with interesting looking moss. I marked it down for another day, and headed back. To finish with, a picture of the ice stars on the car window.


Frost and flowers

It was a cold sunny morning and I set off along the cliffs at St Andrews, wondering if I would see any flowers apart from gorse. Which is not to undervalue gorse, brightening up the view.

I was taken with the frosty leaves, and collected a few pictures along the way. It showed up the deep grooves on the ribwort plantain leaves.

Decorated the moss and buttercup leaves.

It seemed to linger on some plants longer than others – thistles being one.

Down on the shore, even the seaweed was frosty.

And the rocks were icy.

This little robin was pecking about on a frozen pool down at the Rock and Spindle.

This is the liverwort growing where the little burn crosses the path, before the R&S. Lunularia cruciata, I think, with its little crescent-shaped gemmae cups.

Flower-wise, I was trying to do the Wildflowerhour winter challenge and find 10 flowers. I stuck at four for ages, but ended up with 12.

Windblown knapweed.

Green Alkanet (lots of it on the cliff path at R&S).

A rather stunning Red campion.

A terrible picture of a truly pathetic little Bloody Cranesbill (but the leaves were good!)

Oxeye daisy, with this one just coming into flower.

Red clover.

And I also found Hypocharis radicata, Hogweed, Dove’s-foot cranesbill, Sea Mayweed and Daisy. And Gorse of corse.

Not a day for lingering once the sun went away, but good to be out there all the same.

Winter birds

It really felt like winter today, frost lingering on the ground and an icy, biting wind. But beautiful sunshine, bringing out the last of the autumn colours and making it good to be out there.

I went along to Kincraig, out by the forest track, round to Ruddon’s Point, along Shell Bay and back over the cliff. Very few flowers. Some pink campion, a tiny red deadnettle, daisies. There was gorse (“of corse”), looking great in the sunshine.

I took this picture thinking it would be good for Wildflowerhour.

Then at the top of the cliffs I found a single little rock rose flower, beautifully lit with shadows on its petals.

But that was really it. However, lots of bird interest to make up for it. The tide was in, and down at the mouth of the burn there were lots of redshanks, oystercatchers, gulls and ducks.

I noticed this dark bird on its own.
I think it’s a Brent Goose.

Coming back down the hill, there were at least 14 curlews in a field.

Do they fly in from Europe? It was good to see them.

Sunny Sunday at Elie

Beautiful day – fresh, but no wind to speak of, blue skies and dazzling sunshine.

The tide was out. I saw these reddish waders and decided to try to id them at home.

Pictures not good enough. Maybe Knot?
The Isle of May was doing that mirage thing where there seem to be islands floating in the air.

Plant-wise, there was lots of Stickly Groundsel flowering away.

A scabious still attracting a bee.

Pink campion, red clover, yellow things – and gorse. I thought this was a helium balloon, from a distance, but there was no need for outrage.

What a sky.
I ended up looking at the cliff moss again.

So velvety and tightly packed. I’m not even going to try to ID it just now. I’ll just admire it.

Tentsmuir seals and centaury

1st November, and the dunes are losing colour. But there was still some Common Centaury flowering.

And Evening Primrose. This time, I decided it’s Oenothera x fallax, the intermediate hybrid version. The sepals are red-striped, the style is the same length as the stamens, and it has red-based bulbous hairs on the green parts of the stem. But the book says it’s rare outside England, so I could be wrong (although it’s listed in the plants of Fife book).

The Grass of Parnassus seed heads are still standing strong, but no more flowers this year.

Up on the top path, the yellow knautia was still flowering away. How did it get here? Obviously happy growing in pure sand.

The moss on the dunes is beginning to come into its own, e.g. this beautiful moss carpet.

I had one of those moments when you just don’t recognise a view you’ve seen so many times – the trees are to blame, this line of conifers spreading down the dunes.

And of course the view to the side of the path has changed too, with conifers taken out along the forest edge.

Further along, there were some seals on a sandbank fairly near the shore.

Lots of seabirds, including the easily identifiable oystercatchers.

But also hundreds of smaller waders with some bigger ones standing like sentries along the line. Too far to identify, and they all took to the air when I got too close.

Dead-looking Prickly Saltwort, which turned out to be just as prickly as when it’s green.

The camera gave up on me at that point, but coming back the main highlight was the polytrichum commune moss which I’d been looking for. No capsules though. Think I’m too late.

The beech tree avenue was just beautiful, sweeping golden branches over the road.

Somewhere else

I’m still trying to make a once-a-month effort to visit places I’ve never been, explore a bit more. So this week I headed off to Braemar. I took the first footpath I found, which led off down the side of the Clunie river.

The first excitement was this white flower (too white for the camera, in the bright light. And it was blowing a gale).

I’ve now decided it’s a white version of Dame’s Violet.

Loved this little moss clump, complete with tiny toadstool.

The path then goes along the side of the Dee. Looking one way, view of Braemar Castle. Not sure why I got this 70s retro look with the photo.

The other way, looking into the hills.

There were some great moss groups on the granite boulders along the river.

If I’d done my homework, I would done a longer version of this walk, but I was happy enough to head back into Braemar.

I then went along to Muir of Dinnet reserve – but it was heaving with families enjoying half term. I had a quick look at the loch.

Examined some moss (Polytrichum commune, I think).

And it was lovely to find this little thing flowering – Cowberry, I think, although it might be a hybrid as the petals aren’t very curved.

Long drive back, but the Speyside woods were beautiful in the sun, and I had a very nice bacon and egg pie in Aboyne!

The Little Grebe

It was a calm mild autumn day down at Morton Lochs. All very peaceful.

There were the usual Mallards and Heron, and lots of Coots (I watched a mother keeping an eye on her young one, feeding itself but still needing to be within reach). There was a chestnut coloured duck which I later identified as a female Wigeon.

But the real treat was this Little Grebe/Dabchick, which ducked and dived its way closer and closer to me.

Then it surfaced with a fish – covered in weed, but soon washed clean.

Right in front of me!

I liked this little moss island – made me think of sailing ships.

There was Pink Purslane still flowering.

I came pretty much face to face with a red squirrel, which retreated up the tree making its feelings known. No picture this time…

To finish with, a very lovely Self-heal flower – close up, a real beauty.

Crail to Kingsbarns

It’s been a while since I did this stretch of the coastal path. The first bit is always tedious, getting through the caravan park which seems never-ending. And there are too many golfers around too. But there are bits that make up for all these things.

At Kilminning, there was a huge spread of water-cress.

Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum, would you believe.

There were male ferns with very fresh young leaves.

The rocks and stones are great. I liked this fragmenting jigsaw.

The cliffs were a stone waterfall, as if movement had just frozen.

Then there were these intriguing markings on a rock.

I love these holey stones. What makes holes like this?

Like sponges.

Never noticed this little rock window before – and I clicked just when a bird flew past!

Plant-wise, there was the sea fern to re-discover.

There was also this plant, which I just don’t recognise from the leaves:

There were the bizarre but beautiful orache fruits.

There was a spread of fluffiness from the sea asters.

It was really too windy for pictures of flowers, though, until I got to the sea-rocket in a more sheltered spot on the beach at Kingsbarns.

So a good September walk.

The Duke of Argyll’s tea plant

I went for a Sunday morning ramble hoping that I might finally get a good picture of the Duke of Argyll’s tea-plant (Lycium barbarum) in flower. But on the way, there were other things to look at first…

On the forest path, there were lots of these little yellow flowers. I thought they were some kind of rocket, but couldn’t work it out from the book later. So still a mystery.

It was a busy old day down at the coast, with horses and riders everywhere. When I got along to the DoATP, I was relieved to see that it was still in bloom – but although I took a few pictures, the wind/my lack of skill meant that most of them were sadly out of focus. Next year, maybe?

It’s strange how that always seems to happen with certain plants – orchids, twisted lady’s-tresses – while others let me take beautiful portraits. Like this lovely thrift.

Anyway, lovely walk back up the cliff and down to the car. I was pleased to see lots of Pimpinella saxifraga, Burnet-saxifrage, on the lower cliff. Don’t remember noticing this before.

Other flowers still present too:

Half a field of sow thistles – think the farmer has given up on this one. (I felt “serve him right” for ploughing right up to the path this year.)

The multi coloured tree lupin had just a couple of flowers left.

The Minister’s Path

Another day off and another chance to explore somewhere different. I decided to try the Minister’s Path between Glen Prosen and Glen Clova.

Going up, I kept startling red grouse from the heather. What a strange noise they make. And their droppings were strange too, like little cigarette butts. Apparently it’s their high fibre heather shoot diet…

I was hoping they wouldn’t fly over to the shooting party on the other side. Not such a peaceful walk today.

The heather was a tapestry of different shades of purple.

Scenery all around.

Down a long hill, saying hello to a group of walkers struggling up the other way. At the foot of the hill, the tallest mullein I’ve seen for a long time (flowers just about looking me in the eye).

At the end of the path was the carpark and a handy bench, where I had my lunch with a view.

Nearly got soaked when a car drove fast through that puddle. Not impressed.

On the way back, the hill was steep. I tried to identify the small squeaky birds, and managed to get a picture.

Meadow pipit, I think.
I thought this must be a club moss, and it is – Stag’s-horn Club-moss (white hair ends to leaves).

A good walk.