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

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Common Wintergreen

The objective of this visit to Garn Lakes Local Nature Reserve was to check on the fortunes of a  large stand of common wintergreen now thriving at the site.

At the Black Ranks I rambled around the fragments of species rich grassland that has filled the gaps and margins of this now demolished row of cottages. There were a few burnet companion moths and common blue butterflies on the wing as I made my way towards a large mound of fly-tipped material. A couple of south marsh orchid were flowering just on the edge of the rubble and a stonechat called in the distance. The mass of assorted plaster, brickwork and paint pots contained evidence that its origin was local to Blaenavon, demonstrating that some still have no respect for its status as a World Heritage Site and the impression this gives to visitors arriving along this highway gateway. 

Crossing the busy, 'I'm not slowing down for anyone' road I arrived at a super little meadow of marshy grassland with a couple of ponds to boot. Here ragged robin and southern marsh orchid were dominant, but the most numerous flowering plant was grass vetchling. Moving on towards the edge of the upper conservation lake the peace and tranquility of this nature reserve was punctuated by the raucous sounds of laughter (mainly male) emanating from a large marquee in the grounds of the nearby Whistle Inn pub. The lake itself supported 17 adult Canada Goose with 10 youngsters in tow, a pair of nesting coot, a male tufted duck and a single little grebe

The margins of this lake are now becoming densely scrub covered, the open aspect that was formerly  home to water ladybird and eyebright spp. is disappearing under a sea of willow. Nevertheless patches of eyebright remain and the monkey flower still prevail. It was a challenge to push through this scrub but rewarding at the same time, I sometimes wonder way I never encounter anyone else doing the same thing! Am I the only naturalist that explores beyond ones comfort zone?

I eventually found the common wintergreen, some spikes were in full flower others not, and there are hundreds on non flowering rosettes. Here too were heath and common spotted orchids.

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