Kirkcudbrightshire Botany Group at Long Robin, Kirkcudbright, 26th April 2024

Long Robin is a long, thin strip of woodland along the eastern edge of Kirkcudbright Bay. The woodland runs directly down to the shore and provided an opportunity to record both woodland and shoreline plants.

Our group of eight met on a lovely sunny, cool morning in the lay-by at the northern end and walked down an easy track with woodland either side through two monads NX6746 and NX6745.

Spring woodland flowers were dominated by Bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta and Ramsons Allium ursinum; less abundant were Red Campion Silene dioica, Dog’s Mercury Mercurialis perennis, Common Dog-violet Viola riviniana (with its pale notched spur), Lesser Celandine Ficaria verna, Primrose Primula vulgaris, Barren Strawberry Potentilla sterilis (distinguished from the true Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca by the terminal tooth of the leaflet being shorter than those either side, and having gaps between the petals). There was a surprising absence of Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea – although there was one small patch right at the far southern end of the second monad. The only woodland sedge we encountered was Wood Sedge Carex sylvatica and the most obvious woodland grass was False-brome Brachypodium sylvaticum. Black Spleenwort Asplenium adiantum-nigrum was found on a rocky crag above the path. Also notable was a patch of Lords-and-ladies Arum maculatum which is well scattered throughout the vice county but not all that common. The garden escape Italian Lords-and-Ladies Arum italicum ssp. italicum with its creamy-white veins was also seen. The woodland canopy comprised Ash Fraxinus excelsior, Wych Elm Ulmus glabra, Oak Quercus sp. Beech Fagus sylvatica and Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus. Many of the trees were old and had been coppiced long ago; there was also evidence of Ash Dieback.

We were pleased to find five different Speedwell species for comparison: Germander Speedwell Veronica chamaedrys, Slender Speedwell V. filiformis, Wood Speedwell V. montana, Heath Speedwell V. officinalis and Thyme-leaved Speedwell V. serpyllifolia.

We stopped for lunch on the shore at the Lifeboat Station. Here we found Sea Plantain Plantago maritima, Sea-milkwort Lysimachia maritima, Thrift Armeria maritima, Distant Sedge Carex distans, Common Saltmarsh-grass Puccinellia maritima, Common Scurvygrass Cochlearia officinalis, Parsley Water-dropwort Oenanthe lachenalii, and at least two plants of Dyer’s Greenweed Genista tinctoria. Further on, some members of the group found several plants of Sea-kale Crambe maritima.

As usual, we didn’t restrict ourselves to recording plants. We had the first Speckled Wood butterfly of the year for many of us, as well as Orange Tip. Malcolm showed us a delightful pair of Nettle Weevils Phyllobius pomaceus.

Members of the group kept a bird list. Notable species were Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, four Sandwich Terns Thalasseus sandvicensis and a Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata very close to the shore.

However, there was to be a completely unexpected finale – a huge and very much alive Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae perched on a roadside telegraph wire in the main Street of Kirkcudbright as we drove through on the way home! We screeched to a halt and took photographs with the bird looking completely unconcerned. Apparently two birds had escaped from a wildlife park locally and were surviving in the wild. Well done Malcolm for getting such a great shot of it despite having only a macro lens to hand!

My thanks to everyone who came along and made it such an enjoyable day.


Sarah White

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