Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Beside a concrete plinth

In  the edgelands of Blaenavon just short of a turning to Llanelly Hill and in view of the largest upland bog in Gwent (a site waiting to be valued by those charged with valuing such valuable habitats!) is an unofficial, bootleg roadside pull in. This highway notch provides easy access to another fading facet in the over exploited valleys landscape. Here the remnants of a concrete plinth fractured by the freeze thaw activities of an often hostile winter climate has bedded down with coal spoil a tarmac track and a perished size 8 Wellington boot to provide a botanical past time for a child at heart inquisitive naturalist.

Just like the first bend of an Olympic 1500 metres final plants jostle for position behind the pace setting purple moor grass (Molina caerulea) and common cotton grass (Eriophorum angustifolium). On the edge of a short length of the black stuff 20+ bee orchid (Ophrys apifera ) are just coming into flower. These are late individuals but no surprise given the lofty elevation in which they've chosen to frequent. Elsewhere wild thyme (Thymus drucel) flowers along with the dainty fairy flax ( Linum catharticum ). A single moonwort (Botrychuim lunaria) pushes its way through a bed of moss whilst overhead up to 30 meadow pipit and an odd goldfinch line an electricity wire calling to fledglings hidden in nearby thatch. The larval cases of burnet moths litter the storks of gramineae species but the only visible was a single adult narrow bordered five spot (Zygaena lonicerae) on a now withering southern marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa). The diminutive blue fleabane (Erigeron acer) dominates the otherwise lichen dominated skin of this upland rudural feature. All in all enough to satisfy the simple demands of a working class naturalist, one of more pure breeding would no doubt make a longer list  

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