2023 County Report for Merionethshire

Jo Clark

Meirionnydd Naturalists Report 2023

The Meirionnydd group meet monthly between March and November, with occasional extra meetings as and when the weather is better for mountain trips.

In March, the Meirionnydd Naturalists group visited Craig yr Aderyn / Bird Rock near Tywyn SH60N, where ubiquitous sheep grazing generally pre-empts finding much of interest, however in a cleft of rock, out of reach, were a few plants of hay scented fern Dryopteris aemula.

See photo of Craig Aderyn – Bird Rock

Llandanwg sand dunes and salt marsh SH52U in April were a wonderfully diverse tetrad, but nothing unexpected or notable.

Meirionnydd Naturalists visited woodland near Aberdyfi in May to count the Narrow-leaved helleborine Cephalanthera longifolia population. We were pleased to find 38 plants, of which half were flowering. It’s hoped that the National Botanic Garden of Wales will be able to arrange for this colony to contribute to their important seed bank in the near future.

In June we were invited to see Andrew and Janet Graham’s land at Minera Quarry (Denbighshire). It was very impressive to see limestone grassland covering most of the immediately visible landscape. Martin Stead spotted Tufted forget-me-not Myostis laxa in a ditch (we rarely ever see this in Meirionnydd) and in a marshy area of Sharp-flowered rush Juncus acutiflorus with Marsh valerian Valeriana dioica, Tawny sedge Carex hostiana, Flea sedge Carex pulicaris and Marsh speedwell Veronica scutellata. Then, Andrew showed us a good-sized patch of 20 or so Moonwort Botrychium lunaria,

Also in June, we re-located Petty Whin Genista anglica at Duallt Station, near Maentwrog during an enjoyable walk beside the Welsh Highland Railway. There were 25 plants of Petty Whin in total. We also found Carex canescens (a new tetrad record).

In July, we visited Rhobell Fawr, near Rhyd y Main, Dolgellau which proved to be a little gem with Northern bedstraw Galium boreale clinging onto rocky outcrops in a few locations, as well as Starry saxifage Micarea stellaris, Carex × fulva (C. hostiana × lepidocarpa), frequent Dioceous sedge Carex dioica, The Mountain Everlasting Antennaria dioica we had hoped to re-find (from Barbara Brown’s 2018 visit) was not re-found, but we were very happy when Peter Foulkes turned up the find of the day - a single frond of Moonwort Botrychium lunaria.

See photo of Moonwort on Rhobell Fawr

See photo of Galium boreale on Rhobell Fawr

August’s visit to Moel Fferna quarry in the Berwyn SSSI was a very unpromising day weather-wise, but despite not finding moonwort this time, we found cowberry in flower and fruit, with a fungus growing on it, abundant brittle bladder ferns Cystopteris fragilis on a quarry building and in a wetland below the quarry thousands of plants of Marsh arrowgrass Triglochin palustris and Dioecious sedge C. dioica.

See photo of Cowberry Vaccinium vitis-idaea with flowers, berries and fungal growth on Berwyn

 See photo of Peter Foulkes admiring abundant Triglochin palustris in a marsh on Berwyn.

The September trip to National Trust land at Dolmelynllyn, near Ganllwyd was delightful as there was ivy-leaved bellflower Wahlenbergia hederacea all over the place. The highland cows grazing the land extensively were managing the site most excellently. We also searched for forked spleenwort (last recorded by Paul Green in 2018), but didn’t find it and ran out of time without finding it!

Our last field visit of the year was to Aberdyfi golf course, where we inadvertently annoyed some golfers by wandering about very slowly looking at things on the ground! Lots of interesting fungi there.

See photo of botany in action on Aberdyfi golf course, Meirionnydd.


Craig Aderyn, Bird Rock

Craig Aderyn, Bird Rock

Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort) found on Rhobell Fawr

Galium boreale on an ungrazed cliff, Rhobell Fawr

Cowberry Vaccinium vitis-idaea with flowers, berries and fungal growth on Berwyn

Cattle grazing at Dolmelynllyn, land farmed in hand by the National Trust

Looking at plants on Aberdyfi golf course