13 July 2017

Interesting Helleborine in NPT

Hilary and I saw this today near Jersey Marine.

Significant features are the pale creamy-green flowers with obtuse perianth segments, the lax inflorescence, the hairy upper stem, and the rather narrow, channelled leaves which are not really whorled. It looks like a form of Epipactis muelleri (= Epipactis leptochila), but not the form normally known as Narrow-lipped Helleborine (E. muelleri Var. leptochila).  It looks more like Var. dunensis to me, although it isn't a perfect fit. It wasn't growing in dunes.  Comments appreciated.

11 June 2017

Rose-coloured Starling : Gowerton

A few pics of the stunning adult Rose-coloured Starling at Cedar Close, Gowerton from a visit today......

09 June 2017

West Glamorgan plant recording update

The map below shows the tetrad (2 km x 2km squares) totals of species of vascular plants held in the MapMate database in West Glamorgan. The main purpose of the map at this stage is to highlight the gaps in our knowledge, for example there are clearly under-recorded squares to the north of Swansea. Following the publication of 5 km square maps in the Flora of Glamorgan, Quentin Kay initiated more detailed recording, primarily focusing on the Swansea area, for which I have taken up the baton. However, it is Charles and Hilary Hipkin who have been instrumental in undertaking systematic recording and have achieved near-blanket coverage of Neath Port Talbot (at the level of 1 km square), as well as venturing into adjacent areas. In addition to the glut of records produced by these stalwarts, records of noteworthy species have also come in from a range of sources, too many to mention here, but for which we are most grateful.

Much of the data plotted below are recent and will be included in the third BSBI atlas, due to be published in 2020, recording for which will continue until 2019. If anyone reading this can help populate some some of the lighter shaded squares, contributions would be gratefully received and acknowledged.

NB. The map only includes data held in the MapMate database and those squares shown to the east of the NPT boundary (it's faint, but you can just about see it!) have data that have not yet been digitised. Similarly, a lot of historical data have not been digitised and are not plotted, which means the map largely shows a modern pattern of plant diversity.

Finally a plant, a double-flowered form of Cardamine pratensis (Cuckooflower), a small population of which grows in semi-natural grassland in Singleton Park, kindly brought to my attention by Viv Lewis.

08 June 2017

Carder Bee Mimic

This fabulous hover fly, Criorhina berberina, was in the garden a few days ago. There are two forms of this fly, one is dark and the other (shown in the photo) is entirely buff (var. oxyacanthae). The buff form is a really convincing mimic of the Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum).

16 May 2017

Whiteford Pill - Caterpillar of the Scarlet Tiger moth

Two caterpillars of the Scarlet Tiger moth - Callimorpha Dominula found at Whiteford Pill over the Easter break

29 April 2017

Japanese Knotweed Wilting

Virtually all the populations of Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) in Neath Port Talbot are exhibiting catastrophic wilt symptoms.

I brought this to the attention of a few people a few days ago and several people have told me that they have noticed this elsewhere in South Wales. In a walk along along the Neath Canal between Neath and Briton Ferry, almost every plant I looked at was showing severe wilt symptoms (as shown in the photo below). It almost looks as if there has been a mass herbicide spraying event!

I haven't noticed Japanese Knotweed wilting on such a wide scale before and it is interesting to speculate on what is going on here. The rapid onset and scale of this phenomenon suggests that it is not the result of disease or herbivore attack. Rather, it appears to be  the result of a  physiological shock. But it doesn't appear to be a result of water shortage as such, which might seem to be the most obvious cause given the dry weather we've experienced recently - many plants that are growing in moist soil all along the canal are wilting. One possibility is that the mild conditions of early Spring this year have stimulated an early, rapid growth of tender knotweed stems which have subsequently experienced catastrophic chilling shock injury during the recent, unseasonal cold conditions. It's what happens to your tender half hardy seedlings when you plant them out too early.
I haven't seen this reported elsewhere, nor am I aware of any information on it in the literature, but I suspect it has occurred on a wide scale throughout the UK. Comments welcome.