Archive: August 2012

Soft Rush (Juncus effusus)

key indicator that your feet are about to get wet!!

Soft Rush is a thin, tuft-forming rush that grows in wet woodlands, marshes, ditches and grasslands. It has smooth, green stems which can be easily peeled to produce the pith. Traditionally, this was soaked in fat and used in household lamps as wicks – it was a cheaper alternative to candlelight which gave off a very dim orange light, the wick was folded and wrapped in the fat and if you needed more light you would “burn the candle at both ends” . This practice was revived during the Second World War in some rural areas.

 

Posted in Mountain Flora & Fauna

Chough

We were lucky enough to see a flock of about 20 of theses fantastic birds up at Holyhead Mountain last week

While its black plumage identifies it as a crow, the chough (pronounced ‘chuff’) has a red bill and legs unlike any other member of the crow family. It has a restricted westerly distribution in the British Isles and because of its small population size and historically declining populations it is an Amber List species. It readily displays its mastery of flight with wonderful aerial displays of diving and swooping. They build a lined stick nest and lay three to five eggs. They feed, usually in flocks, on short grazed grassland, taking mainly invertebrate prey, supplemented by vegetable material or food from human habitation, especially in winter. The Alpine chough has been observed following mountaineers ascending Mount Everest at an altitude of 8,200 m (26,900 ft).

Posted in Mountain Flora & Fauna

Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

It is said that the name Wheatear derives from the 16th-century linguistic corruption of ‘white arse’, a perfect description of how this bird appears as it flies away. Indeed, it is the white rump contrasting with the inverted black ‘T’ in the tail which separates a Wheatear in any plumage from all other British birds. Males in spring are handsome birds with blue-grey backs and black eye masks. Females and first winter birds are brown above and usually lack the dark eye patch. Birds breed mainly in western and northern Britain and western Ireland, although smaller numbers do breed in southern and eastern England. It winters in central Africa, It mainly breeds in holes in the ground or in walls in areas of short turf such as moors, downs and cliff-tops.

Posted in Mountain Flora & Fauna

Navelwort (Umbilicus rupestris)

Have seen lots of this little plant around thriving in the craggy environment!

Navelwort comes from the stalk growing from the centre of the leaf. The plant is also known as wall pennywort, after its shiny, penny-like leaves, dandy, blessed cradle and kidneywort in Ireland, where it was used to cure kidney complaints, coolers, for the soothing action of the sappy leaves on burns, and maid-in-the-mist and lovers links in Scotland. The Romans called it Venus’ navel, and used it in spells to procure love. The juice was used in an ancient treatment for epilepsy in the west of England and a cure for earache in County Mayo. A poultice of the leaves was used to treat corns and chilblains in Wales. the shoots and leaves are very tasty in a fresh salad.

Posted in Mountain Flora & Fauna

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