Friday, 22 May 2015

Wild Flowers Between the Tracks

Standing on the platform at York station waiting for the train back to Fife, after a brief visit to Yorkshire, I was surprised by the profusion of wild flowers between the rail tracks. I could identify Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum) and think that the yellow daisies might be the flowers of Oxford ragwort (Senecio squalidus).

Oxford ragwort, a non-native species, is thought to be a hybrid between two ragwort species, that occur in Sicily. This plant was brought from Mount Etna to Oxford Botanic Gardens, in England, in the 1700s, and from there it escaped into the surrounding countryside. With the expansion of the railway network in the mid 19th Century, Oxford ragwort, an attractive but rather invasive plant, soon spread along railway lines and can now be found throughout the UK. The clinker of the tracks provided a similar habitat to that found on the slopes of Mount Etna and trains helped to carry its parachuted seeds.



Thursday, 14 May 2015

Cuckoo-pint Flower Opening

At the beginning of April spotted the arrow-shaped leaves of a patch of cuckoo-pint, or lords-and-ladies (Arum macrolatum) close to the beginning of the Serpentine Walk and have been watching the flower spikes develop over the last week or so.
In this photo the flower spikes are just beginning to open.
 A few days later could see the purple-brown spadix.

Today another flower had opened giving a better view of the cowl-shaped spathe surrounding the spadix.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Grey Wagtail at the Keil Burn

Looking down from the road bridge over the Keil Burn in Lundin Links spotted this grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) on a boulder in the burn.


It had an insect in its beak and was showing characteristic behaviour, continually bobbing up and down and wagging its long tail.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Keil's Den Spring 2015

A beautiful morning in Keil's Den - sun shining, birds singing and beside the burn, near to the new bridge, carpets of wood anemone.

Wood anemone  (Anemone nemorosa)

From the sturdy new bridge can see the old stepping stones and even although it's been an exceptionally dry April so far, some of the stones are under water, so the bridge is a welcome improvement.
Here and there patches of primroses and violets.
A bright yellow-green patch close to the middle bridge in the den. I think that this is golden saxifrage.
It is a plant that grows in damp places, like the banks of a burn. There are two species - Chrysosplenium oppositifolium has opposite pairs of leaves on the main stem, whilst Chrysosplenium alternifolia has its leaves arranged alternately and is much less common.
Bluebells on the bank of a small burn. However, the bluebells are not all out yet particularly in the upper slopes of the den and they should be at their best in a week or two.
Blackthorn was in full flower. The blossom comes out before the leaves.
Walking back into Lundin Links along the path that runs beside a field a pony came to say hello and pose for a picture,
 ..... and was joined by a friend.
I love this view looking back to the den with Largo Law beyond. The lower slopes of the Law are clothed in yellow gorse at present.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Knotted Wrack

Knotted or egg wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) on the beach at Lundin Links. This is said to be a widespread seaweed but I hadn't spotted it before. The egg-shaped air bladders were about the size of small grapes.
Growing on the egg wrack was the fluffy dark red seaweed, egg wrack wool (Polysiphonia lanosa). It was said to be an obligatory epiphyte - a plant that benefits from growing on another plant for physical support. It makes use of the hosts buoyancy at high tide lifting it closer to the sunlight.
However, the nature of Polysiphponia's relationship with Ascophyllum is still subject to debate. Recent researchers have suggested that Polysiphonia is parasitic as it gains sugars from its host via hyphae sunk into egg wracks tissue. Others suggest Polysiphonia would not still have red photosynthetic pigment if it was a true parasite and hence suggest the relationship is epiphytic.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Scurvy-grass

Common scurvy-grass (Cochlearia officinalis) growing between the rocks at the top of the beach in Lundin Links. It is not a grass but belongs to the cabbage family. The fleshy leaves have a high content of Vitamin C and before citrus fruits were available, in the days of sailing ships when voyages often took months, the leaves were widely used for the prevention of scurvy on board ship. In Gaelic it is called 'The Sailor' (Am Maraiche).


Scurvy grass flower with four sepals and four white petals forming a cross.
There are two other species of scurvy grass - Danish or early scurvy-grass (Cochlearia danica) and English scurvy-grass (Cochlearia anglica). The three plants hybridise readily so it is difficult to be absolutely sure of identification.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Pheasant at the Largo Burn

Often hear the unmistakeable squawk of a pheasant and see them in the fields on each side of the Serpentine Walk but rarely close enough to get a reasonable photo. However, today one flew on to the bank of the Largo Burn which runs at the side of the path. It was going backwards and forwards and seemed to be trying to figure out a way to get through the wire fence into the field.

At this time of year male pheasants are at their most colourful.