Botanising in H34 (Raphoe) – May 2015

It’s been quite a while (five months in fact) since my last post about botanising in Donegal, which was part of the New Year Plant Hunt run by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI). Since then I’ve been trying to keep my botanical skills somewhat sharp (don’t want to get too rusty), but there are also plenty other things to get your brain ticking over, some light bird-watching and of course pollinators. In April of this year (2015) myself and Mairéad Crawford got a county first for Waterford in the form of the Mountain Bumblebee (Bombus monticola), which we were extremely happy about. I’ve been hoping to record the species for about two year and it was amazing to get a county first.

But back to Botany –
21st of May – Myself and Mairéad decided to do some local recording around Raphoe and the surrounding area. Raphoe is a small rural town in East Donegal with quite a bit of history attached, it also has old stone walls, which were our first port of call.

Rustyback Fern (Asplenium ceterach) - Raphoe, East Donegal (H34). - Oisín Duffy
Rustyback Fern (Asplenium ceterach) – Raphoe, East Donegal (H34). – Oisín Duffy
Wall-Rue (Asplenium ruta-muraria) - Raphoe, East Donegal (H34).
Wall-Rue (Asplenium ruta-muraria) – Raphoe, East Donegal (H34) – Oisín Duffy.

Road verges and hedgerows were next on the agenda and it was quite nice to see that not everything was cut back to bare earth and in fact most had quite a bit of colour.

Germander Speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys) and Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) - Raphoe, East Donegal (H34). - Oisín Duffy.
Germander Speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys) and Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) – Raphoe, East Donegal (H34). – Oisín Duffy.

On the other side of the road was a slightly uncommon visitor to Donegal – Shining Cranesbill (Geranium lucidum), which was carpeting an old parking area.

Shining Cranesbill (Geranium lucidum) - Raphoe, East Donegal (H34) - Oisín Duffy
Shining Cranesbill (Geranium lucidum) – Raphoe, East Donegal (H34) – Oisín Duffy 

The hedgerows in Donegal were slightly behind the rest of the country and the Hawthorn was only in half bloom at best (with quite a lot still in bud). Some of the early Spring species were still thriving also, like this very healthy looking Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna)

Lesser Celadine (Ficaria verna) - Raphoe, East Donegal (H34).
Lesser Celadine (Ficaria verna) – Raphoe, East Donegal (H34) – Oisín Duffy.

It’s always nice when you have either some beautiful scenery or some historical/cultural/social landmark near when you’re recording and you don’t have far to go for that in Raphoe.

Raphoe Castle - Oisín Duffy
Raphoe Castle – Oisín Duffy

More searching of the walls and we found Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes) and English Stonecrop (Sedum anglicum). Hart’s Tongue (Asplenium scolopendrium) was just unfurling at this point and its youthful colour added to the hedgerows and old stone walls.

Hart's Tongue (Asplenium scolopendrium) - Raphoe, East Donegal (H34) - Oisín Duffy
Hart’s Tongue (Asplenium scolopendrium) – Raphoe, East Donegal (H34) – Oisín Duffy

By no means is the above a complete list of the species recorded, close to 80 were recorded in this small town.
More to come about Botanising in East Donegal in the next few weeks!

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