Bradford Botany Group

Anglesey

Thursday 10 th June - Monday 14 th June 2010

 

 

Silver-studded Blue

Seventeen of us met at lunchtime on Thursday halfway up the great limestone headland of The Great Orme. This enabled early arrivals to eat their sandwiches while overlooking the magnificent bay of Llandudno as the Great Orme tram passed by. The Great Orme is two miles by one mile wide and around half is farmed. The other half is a nature reserve grazed by goats originally given by Queen Victoria.

Ivy Broomrape

White Ramping-fumitory

The Great Orme

We were fortunate to be guided by local expert Wendy McCarthy who knew the locations of plants of interest as the going was very steep in parts. Jewel-like little Silver-studded Blue butterflies* (Plebeius argus) added to the rich flora which included the promised Hoary Rockrose (Helianthemum canum), Ivy Broomrape* (Orobanche hederae), Nottingham Catchfly (Silene nutans) and Spotted Cat’s-ear (Hypochaeris maculata). Amongst a total of a hundred species, a further sixteen rare plants were found including Goldilocks Aster (Aster linosyris), Knotted Hedge-parsley (Torilis nodosa), Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca), Hutchinsia (Hornungia petraea) and Bird’s-nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis).

Annual Beard Grass

The Great Orme

 

We arrived in Anglesey at around 6pm. For the duration of the holiday, we stayed at The Valley Hotel, a three star inn, which was able to accommodate our entire Group. It is situated in Valley in the northwest of Anglesey with easy access to the A55 meaning a speedy journey to all the sites that we visited. We had negotiated a great price for our group booking and the icing on the cake was that good food and refreshments were served for a very reasonable price. The group were therefore together most evenings.

Anglesey is a low-lying island separated from the Welsh mainland by the Menai Strait. Much of it is covered by intensive sheep and cattle farming, aided by modern agro-chemicals so that much of the natural vegetation has been destroyed. However, there are one hundred miles of protected coastline habitats and significant wetland areas inland.

Red form of Kidney Vetch

On Friday we visited coastal heathland of the RSPB’s The Ranges, where straight away one member of the group avoided stepping on a female adder when she hissed loudly. Here, Bog Pimpernel (Anagallis tenella) Seaside Centaury (Centaurium littorale), Allseed (Radiola linoides) and Common x Pale Dog-violet (Viola lactea x V. riviniana) were among 83 species in total. When we reached the coast we were greeted by lovely views, Rock Samphire (Crithmum maritimum), the red form of Kidney Vetch* (Anthyllis vulneraria) and Thrift (Armeria maritima).

Common Centaury

The Ranges

Rock Sea-spurrey

After lunch we proceeded to South Stack, an essential stop for any visitor to Anglesey. Here, we enjoyed the spectacular cliffs and views of the seabirds around the lighthouse from the RSPB centre at Elin’s Tower. But the area was also superb for botany as our haul of 107 species proved. Highlights included Portland Spurge (Euphorbia portlandica) and late-flowering Spring Squill (Scilla verna). Metallic green Rose Chafer beetles ( Cetonia aurata) lit up in the sun while munching on the flowers of Rock Sea-spurrey* (Spergularia rupicola).

Sheep's-bit

South Stack

Spotted Rock-rose

Saturday saw us nipping off briefly to a tiny nature reserve which protects a population of Spotted Rock-rose* (Tuberaria guttata) while the sunshine tempted its flowers open and before it dropped its petals altogether after noon.

We then travelled to Newborough Forest, formerly a warren prior to the forestry planting when the area yielded 100,000 rabbits per year. Rabbits were no longer abundant, however, we did find 91 plants including Common Alder x Grey Alder (Alnus x hybrida), Water Sedge (Carex aquatilis) and Seaside Centaury (Centaurium littorale). An interesting tree, the Rum Cherry (Prunus serotina) from America was also found.

 

Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. incarnata

Aberffraw Dunes were our next port of call. Once a commercially important estuary that silted up, a large dune system has built up, from which Snowdon can be seen on a clear day. Windblown shifting sand supplemented by many dune slacks which are wet in winter provided plenty of interest with 97 species recorded. There were some beautiful orchids and our interest provoked the interest of local people passing by who wanted to know what they were. There were the differently coloured subspecies of Early Marsh Orchid* (Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. coccinea and ssp. incarnata), Northern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza purpurella) and the hybrid between the two species* (Dactylorhiza x latirella). There was also the hybrid between Common Spotted Orchid and Northern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza x venusta). Interesting non-orchids included a large violet, identified as Common Dog-violet x Heath Dog-violet (Viola x intersita), Dune Pansy (Viola tricolor ssp. curtisii), Round-leaved Wintergreen (Pyrola rotundifolia ssp. maritima), Dune Soft-brome (Bromus hordeaceus ssp. thominei), Bog Pimpernel (Anagallis tenella), Variegated Horsetail (Equisetum variegatum) and Sea Spurge (Euphorbia paralias). An unusual willow was found (Salix x fragilis = S. euzina x S. alba).

Dactylorhiza x latirella

Bog Sedge

On Sunday we visited Gors Goch, an excellent example of fen vegetation in a narrow valley, although the weather became increasingly wet towards lunchtime. Here we recorded a huge 131 species including lots of sedges. In addition to the locally dominant Great Fen-sedge (Cladium mariscus) with its saw-toothed leaves there were rare sedges including Lesser Tussock-sedge (Carex diandra), Slender Sedge (Carex lasiocarpa) and Bog Sedge* (Carex limosa). We found both Heath Fragrant and the commoner Chalk Fragrant Orchids (Gymnadenia borealis and G. conopsea). There was also Narrow-leaved Marsh Orchid* (Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides). Other rare plants included Mountain Everlasting (Antennaria dioica), Grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia palustris) and Lesser Bladderwort (Utricularia minor).

Narrow-leaved Marsh Orchid

Equisetum x meridionale

We moved on to Valley Wetlands, mainly to see the hybrid between Variegated Horsetail and Branched Horsetail* (Equisetum x meridionale) that was a new addition to the British List. It was numerous on both sides of the road, suggesting that it had been here for some time. Among our list of 64 species were the hybrid between Heath Spotted-orchid and Northern Marsh Orchid* (Dactylorhiza x formosa) and Spring Squill (Scilla verna), the latter still visible due to the late season.

Dactylorhiza x formosa

Salix x multinervis

Cors Bodeilio

On Monday before departing for home, we had a morning visit to Cors Bodeilio, a National Nature Reserve with calcareous mire and boasting a variety of fen and grassland habitats. Here, the special interest was to find the Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera). Among a mammoth 136 species were other rarities including Parsley Water-dropwort (Oenanthe lachenalii), Fen Pondweed (Potamogeton coloratus) and the hybrid between Dog Rose and Sweet Briar (Rosa x nitidula) among others seen at previous sites.

This was an outstanding holiday and thanks must go out to all those who made it a success.

Cladium mariscus

Cors Bodeilio

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