I don’t usually travel as far as Anglesey for work, but occasionally it’s nice to go further afield. This project involved ecological appraisal of two small wastewater treatment works in north west Anglesey. Turning down the lane to the first site, I noticed a large development on the corner, ringed in great crested newt fencing. Fairly big clue to the main ecological concern in this area! Tourists often just visit the island’s spectacular coastline, but inland Anglesey is famous amongst ecologists for its cornucopia of wetlands, from ponds to lakes to internationally important species-rich fens and marshes. And this means great crested newts are frequently found.
Great crested newt photographed in Cheshire in 2014 as part of a licensed survey
For many years, the banks of the river Dee in Chester have been part of the city: for launching boats both pleasure and commercial; forming a particularly lethal obstacle on Chester Golf Course; for promenading; as a backdrop to Chester City Walls and Tower; and, surprisingly, as part of people’s back gardens. In fact, almost the whole northern/eastern bank of the Dee opposite Chester Meadows is occupied by gardens (the rest is a public park). As the river is also a site of European importance for nature conservation, this creates some interesting paperwork when people want to remodel their garden space.
view over Chester Meadows and the river Dee from the study site
Our first coastal meeting turned up our first new county record! Debs and I spent ages looking at a sow-thistle in one of the ditches on Norton Marsh before concluding it was a mystery plant – a hybrid, perhaps. We both went up to it thinking it was going to be field sow thistle Sonchus arvensis on account of its overall size, look and large flowerheads. But no. Where were the massive glandular hairs for which this plant is famous amongst botanists? Seriously, the hairs are legendary, you can see them from across the street they are so large and abundant. No hairs. Back to the drawing board. Continue reading
What a pleasure to be working with Enfys Ecology and the Woodland Trust on a conservation project – makes a change from the usual development schemes! This was part 2 of a survey which my colleague Lucia Ruffino and I started last year. The first part was mostly grassland with some interesting boggy bits, the highlight for me being finding white beak-sedge which I hadn’t seen in forever. This year’s part was much bigger, 11 days survey for both of us, and covered a swathe of land from Trawsfynydd Lake up the hills behind to an altitude of about 300m.
Posted in Research
Tagged botany, NVC
Euphrasia pseudokerneri is a Flintshire rarity. Or, it would be, if anyone could actually find it. The plant was last recorded in the county at Penyball Hill by Vera Gordon in 1962, but no-one has seen it since. Wendy McCarthy looked in the 1990s and, not wanting to give up on it, we thought we’d have another look. After all, a new eyebright handbook is in prep and it would be great to re-establish our knowledge of the distribution of this species in North Wales.
Euphrasia pseudokerneri photographed by L. Rooney
Did you know there are over 300 different kinds of brambles in the UK and Ireland? Here are some that I got to know on the BSBI 2016 Welsh bramble weekend:
Unnamed bramble in the vicinity of Rubus ulmifolius with lovely red styles
Rubus lindleyanus showing off its pleated leaves
Rubus incurvatus. Note the pink filaments on the stamens
Rubus dentatifolius, the jagged leaf bramble
Rubus condensatus, new for Wales😀
Thanks to John Palmer for organising and to Dave Earl and Rob Randall, our expert batologists.
Posted in Training
Appetising, no ?! Don’t I get to go to some nice places in this job……
Actually, slag heaps are pretty interesting places if you’re a botanist, often with interesting chemistry quite different from their surroundings – maybe alkaline in an acid area, or with metal contamination, and they always seem to have some ecological oddity.