Wednesday 25 June 2014

Mellow meander midst a meadow

An email arrived in my inbox at the weekend, inviting Orkney Field Club members to a wildflower walk in a meadow near Finstown. We had not attended any OFC meetings for several months, due to other stuff getting in the way, so we jumped at the chance to immerse ourselves in a bit of natural history.

I met Our Lass as she left work and we went into Kirkwall for tea. This was a treat, too, as we don't eat out so much these days. Then we drove over to Finstown for 18.30 to meet up with the group.

It was a sunny evening, though with a north easterly breeze, as fourteen of us climbed up towards Heddle Hill, pausing only to look at the splendid display of blooms in the community garden.

The meadow in question is unimproved (no fertiliser, so low in nutrients), with underlying sandstone bordering on limestone. It is grazed through the winter by sheep and cattle, which helps to keep the grass sward in check and increases the chances of wildflower seed dispersal and a good contact with the soil.

Immediately upon entering the pasture, it was obvious that it was a special place, with plenty of Northern Marsh and Heath Spotted Orchid (plus a fair bit of hybridisation). Also in profusion were Common Twayblade, Butterwort, Lousewort and Lady's Mantle.

Fewer in number, but a joy to see, were Fairy Flax, Moonwort, Ragged Robin, Eyebright, Wild Thyme and a Speedwell species, plus a small amount of Bog Asphodel that won't flower for several weeks yet.

Unimproved? In a way, it's a bizarre description. How can you better this?
Heath Spotted Orchid, Dactylorhiza maculata
Moonwort, Botrychium lunaria
Possibly... Marsh Lousewort, Pedicularis palustris
Unidentified fungi
Our thanks to Penny Martin, Jenny Taylor and John Crossley for organising and guiding this field trip.


Katie (Nature ID) said...

That's lovely. I dream of green fields like that, something we barely got this year in CA. I'm thinking your fungus is fairy fingers, aka white spindles:

Imperfect and Tense said...

It was a gem of a habitat. A rare and precious gem. Many thanks for the ID help. I must admit that I had not yet got around to researching this. I will pass the ID on to the Field Club for their perusal.