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U3A Botany Group - May 2022

by Jenny - 20:48 on 27 May 2022

17-5-2022.  Rackwick Bay, Hoy.

Our day started with the haar down and a brisk south easterly wind, but six of us set off on the boat from Stromness to Moaness and from there by bus to Rackwick. Here we were soon rewarded by the sight of the haar lifting over the cliffs and sunshine coming through to reveal the beautiful scenery. We walked along the dune slack area at the back of the beach and John pointed out the delightful and nationally rare Small Adder's Tongue (Ophioglossum azoricum), which can only be definitely distinguished from the commoner Adder's Tongue (O.vulgatum) by DNA analysis. (Some of us saw the latter on Black Craig last year.)

We looked at the Lesser Marshwort in the fresh water loch and discussed distinguishing it from Water Crowfoots and noticed the Shore Weed, Marsh Pennywort, Sand Sedge and Marsh Bedstraw also in the wetter areas. Male and female Creeping Willow plants were evident from their flowers and we saw flowering Milkwort, both Common (not so common) and Heath, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Tormentil, Primroses, Spring Squills, as well as Dog Violets and Sea Mousear in sandy patches.  We passed a very distinctive dandelion which John suggested might be rare. We reached the small Primula scotica colony, which was only discovered in the last few years to the surprise of everyone. The vehicles working on the electricity connections in this area had run perilously close to the plants, but hopefully this little colony will survive. As the group found, it is not necessarily easy to spot!  

We then headed inland a bit to the base of Runcigill where we found the remains of flowers of Common Bearberry and enjoyed a lunch stop with a fine view. We noticed small Rowan seedlings scattered about, the berries having been carried by (and probably through) birds.

We then walked back and along the road as far as the toady pool, noticing Wood Horsetail, Greater Woodrush and a patch of Stagshorn Clubmoss in the verges. Half our party headed back on the bus whilst the remaining three walked back along the valley path looking across to Berriedale wood and passing a number of fine Junipers, some with berries, Sundew and the odd Green Tiger Beetle along the way. 

Altogether a very enjoyable day and well worth braving the morning’s haar. 

Small Adder’s Tongue


Heath Milkwort 


Juniper and Fir Clubmoss

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