Dumfriesshire Botany Group in Moffatdale, 30th June 2019

The group met where the Spoon Burn goes under the A708 between Moffat and Selkirk. The square for the day includes the Moffat Water Valley and the steep slope down which the Spoon Burn has cut a deep Linn.

We first explored the river and made our way across semi improved fields to the wetter ground of the floodplain. In the ditches we started to see plenty of Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris, Meadow Sweet Filipendula ulmaria and Ragged Robin Silene Flos-cuculi. The Marsh Ragwort Senecio aquatilis was also prominent with its larger rayed flowers than its common cousin.

At this part of the Moffat Water there are extensive gravel and cobble berms fenced off from grazing, the fences set well back to avoid winter floods. The gravels were dissected by small channels or cut off pools and so there was a lot to explore. All this gravel must be coming from the big valleys upstream, notably Caffifran and Grey Mares Tail and shows how much the Moffat Water is an upland river.

On the gravels we found lots of Sea Campion Silene uniflora which has clearly continued to extend its distribution downstream from Carrifran where it has spread down the burn since stock were removed this century. This has an odd distribution in the South of Scotland. The plant is common around the coast. However it is only found inland on the Dumfriesshire crags. Whether it can spread to the Games Hope Burn in Peeblesshire now that grazing animals have been removed there we will need to wait and see and it will be interesting to see how far it spreads down the Moffat Water.

After Lunch we intended to go up the Spoon Burn Linn, into the more upland habitat. However on our way up the steep slopes it began to rain and everything and everybody got so wet, including the rocks,  that we decided to go back down. It stopped raining seriously when we got to the bottom so some of us decided to go back to the river and explore the rest of the floodplain.

We saw much the same species we had seen in the morning including two other plants that have come off the crags, Limestone Bedstraw Galium sterneri and Hairy Rock-cress Arabis hirsuta. The Galium in particular was a lovely bright patch in the rather gloomy light.

Chris Miles

BSBI county recorder for Dumfriesshire VC73 – see bsbi.org/dumfriesshire

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