Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Minimal moths in the middle of nowhere...

It`s `BSBI Week` at Glynhir, the annual get-together of botanists to help with recording of plants for the latest distribution atlas and to learn identification skills at the same time. As I had intended to visit Cwm Twrch this year, I volunteered to search for bog orchid at a site where Graham Motley and I had discovered it back in 1998; intermediate sundew was also sought, at a different location - Cors Helyg at Rhosaman, where I had found it a quarter-century ago but which had not been seen since, in spite of searching by others.
Accompanied by Rob Shaw (late of the Records Centre at Whitland but now living back home in England), I was able to rapidly re-find the intermediate sundew, remembering it grew on a flushed slope rather than the boggy basin mire where the round-leaved sundew was common. We failed however, after much careful searching, to find the diminutive bog orchid, in spite of very careful inspection of the flush in Cwm Twrch where it was last seen.
The effort took a lot of laborious trekking across many very wet and very `sinky` extensive cotton-grass flushes, as we approached Cwm Twrch by a presumed `easier` route from the west. It was a hard, tiring slog, in heavy wellies, of just under 4 miles all told, with additional climbing of rock scree areas also involved.
Obviously, I was after moths too, but apart from Glyphipterix thrasonella in every wet, rushy area, only a few grass-moths (to be det. later) and brown china-marks were seen, the latter in the Cors Helyg boggy mire. Hardly a `star day` for moths!

Above: looking northwards into the bleak, acidic `core` of Mynydd Du, with the upper reaches of the Afon Twrch in view. Scarce crowberry plants in the foreground (of which plenty grows on these quartzitic scree slopes). I was on the `look out` for upland moths - but none!

6 comments:

  1. That was a good yomp, Ian! If the hill top above the scree line at the extreme right of your photo is at SN784178, that is the most remote top anywhere on the mainland of Wales (measured as the greatest distance from any metalled road). I tried to get up there last year from Cwmllwyd, but was stopped short 250 metres from the top by the Afon Twrch in spate!

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  2. Yes, Chris your comment re the grid ref is correct. I really like this area, particularly as you can `get away from it all`. However, the deliberate traversing of all those extensive cotton-grass swamps (I was looking for moths etc) was n`t a good idea, and I`m `all aches and pains` today! It looks (at the moment) that tonight is good for trapping.

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  3. Steve, I think that we can tell how tired Ian is!!

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  4. You have to give these older geezers a bit of leeway, Chris. After all, he's nearly as old as me!

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  5. ... and I'm a mere youngster, shortly going into my 'Sunset Strip' year! Sadly I left a botanical background behind 50 years ago so don't feel inclined to follow in Ian's footsteps, nice though the Afon Twrch territory looks in the photo.

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  6. They say that `you`re as old as you feel`...and I felt 85 last night! Normally, it`s only the `moth brain sog` after very early starts at the traps but yesterday my bones were aching! Recovered now, and thinking where locally (not too far away) to put the traps out tonight - I need some good moths in a rather mediocre year so far!
    There IS an easier way up the Twrch though, and not the daft, bog-hopping way that we took! It is a lovely cwm, with steep gorges, rare plants and plenty of pied flys, redstarts and even ring ouzels before that bird declined.

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