Friday, 28 July 2017

Caerdeon (Merionethshire) 2017

Setting off to Caerdeon last week I received an email which mentioned the "dire" weather forecast for the weekend. I was meant to be meeting a few others at lunch-time and heading up the slopes of Cadair Idris, and my heart sunk at the thought of a weekend botanising in pouring rain.

True enough, as I arrived in Dolgellau I met Andy, who had just purchased a new umbrella, and along with Flora and Phill we headed up. It was indeed a wet afternoon and by tea-time I was soaked more or less to the skin, but we had collected nearly 100 records, in a new monad, although we hadn't reached the "interesting" part of the tetrad! We headed back to Caerdeon to meet the rest of the group, find a hot shower, dry clothes and a hot dinner, followed by an evening of botany with microscopes, ID books and computers.
The workroom at Caerdeon
However, for the remaining three days I remained dry (apart from dampness in the feet, from bogs) and explored several upland areas of Merionethshire. On the second day we were lucky enough to be offered a lift a mile up a track in a 4x4, saving us a walk in. Exploring the shores of Creiglyn Dyfi, we found mostly species-poor upland sheep-grazed vegetation. However, in the lake we found Isoetes lacustris, with its diagnostic non-spiky megaspores (viewed later under a microscope).
Aran Fawddwy and Creiglyn Dyfi
Ascending below the crags of Aran Fawddwy, we found a range of "nice" plants including Succisa pratensis (Devil's-bit Scabious), Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell), two carnivorous plants - Drosera rotundifolia (Round-leaved Sundew) and Pinguicula vulgaris (Common Butterwort) and three species of clubmoss - Huperzia selago, Selaginella selaginoides and Diphasiastrum alpinum (Fir, Lesser and Alpine Clubmosses).
Drosera rotundifolia (Round-leaved Sundew)
Pinguicula vulgaris (Common Butterwort)

Diphasiastrum alpinum (Alpine Clubmoss)

Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell)
The next day we headed onto the slopes of Y Garn, through the western fringes of Coed y Brenin, and had a very fruitful day where we stayed entirely within one monad. However, after beginning in relatively "nice" forestry (mature, well-thinned trees with an understorey and diverse flora along the roads) we emerged into a beautiful bog [see blog background - from July 2017], full of Rhynchospora alba (White Beak-sedge) with a small colony of Wahlenbergia hederacea (Ivy-leaved Bellflower) and many other species. We then explored the ruin of a disused gold mine, which provided some wall ferns including Asplenium ceterach (Rustyback) as well as closely grazed nutrient-enriched turf for some common weeds including Bellis perennis (Daisy) which my group did not record on any other day! Climbing up through a Pteridium aqulilinum (Bracken)-covered boulderfield to reach the small crags, we discovered Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson's Filmy-fern) under boulders and in cracks.
Examining a specimen - with lots of bracken.
For the final day, a small group of us headed a long way up a forestry road by car (thanks to Sarah's preparation in obtaining permission) to explore the area around Rhobell Ganol. As we were at nearly 500m altitude before starting we did not record such a diversity of species, but we did find the fourth clubmoss of the week - Lycopodium clavatum (Stag's-horn Clubmoss) in profusion as well as a really good range of sedges. The forestry in this area was a monoculture of Picea sitchensis (Sitka Spruce) which did not make for easy walking on our way back (working hard to create a circular route and cover as much of the tetrad as possible)! But it was another enjoyable day in good botanical company.
Lycopodium clavatum (Stag's-horn Clubmoss)

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