Thursday, 27 March 2014

Spring on it's way in Denbighshire

Finally I got out in the field yesterday. The target species for the day was Lithospermum purpocaeruleum, as rumour had it we might be able to still see nutlets at this time of year. When we found the first (known) population it soon became clear that any nutlets had long vanished, but the new spring leaves were on their way.
Lithospermum purpocaeruleum - purple gromwell 
We moved on to another site where Lithospermum has not been recorded since 1999. It was clearly not the ideal time of year to refind a population, but we were hopeful that we might have "got our eyes in". It was lovely to be in a limestone wood in early spring, with violets and wood anemones giving a hint of the spring flowers to come, but unfortunately we did not refind the Lithospermum. Perhaps later in the year.
Anemone nemorosa - wood anemone

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Winter trees

I was lucky enough to be leading BSBI field meeting no. 1 for 2014 on Sunday. The weather forecast went from good(ish) to bad, and nine participants turned up at 10am in the pouring rain. Luckily it turned out rather better than anticipated, and apart from a few showers much of the day was dry. 

Due to interest from the participants we started by looking at a range of conifers planted on the site including some Abies species which took us a bit by surprise. After some keying out, I believe that we found Abies concolor, Colorado white-fir and Abies alba, European silver-fir. My photographs are far from perfect, but Abies concolor was very distinctive with large broad needles with stomata on both sides, not parted above but curled round and upwards. Abies alba has leaves which are clearly parted above and below the shoot, dark green above but with two lines of white stomata below. Less neat and less pleasantly fragrant than Abies grandis, grand fir, which was also seen. 
Abies concolor, Colorado white-fir
Abies alba, European silver-fir
After walking up to the top of the site via various conifer species, we took a lunch and hot tea-break and took advantage of the shelter to look at some additional specimens and keys.
Lunch break in Castle Wood. Photo with thanks to Barbara Allen
After lunch we walked around the upper part of the wood, finding a good range of broadleaved species to look at in winter. Various members of the group also contributed information on organisms including bryophyes, lichens, fungi, woodlice and snails, so a very interesting afternoon was had. 

The bluebells are starting to appear on the ground through the beech leaves, so spring must be on its way - nearly time for some serious recording again!