Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Butterfly Meadows

Last week in between showers,I drove down to a Plantlife reserve called Cae Blaen Dyffryn,near Lampeter. Its only 9 acres in size on a slope in the midst of farmland,but has been classified as an SSSI due to the rarity of this type of habitat;once widespread in Wales it has dwindled due to agricultural developments.

Its certainly full of wild flowers and life;butterflies were flying all over and the sound of grasshoppers was amazing.There was plenty of cats ear,yellow rattle,common spotted orchids,knapweed and other common meadow plants but also the rarer greater and lesser butterfly orchids.

                 I sat and drew some single orchid flowers before the showers started again!

At home I enlarged the drawings by 2 using a ruler and just doubling the measurements-(Felt like I was back at school-in maths,my worst lesson!). All orchid flowers are so fascinating but small!

A few years ago I drew a butterfly orchid for a painting, from a photograph taken from the same reserve.Here it is cropped down:

The orchid was masked off with masking fluid first then the background painted wet into wet,the orchid flowers are then left as the white paper; its one of the best ways to show off white flowers.
Now I'm back to work and thanks for following x

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ynyslas Revisited

I thought I'd post the completed marsh orchid picture that I started a few weeks ago.I added other plants -horsetails and grasses, to the background in graphite pencil to ground it and add to its wildness.The flowers are a little too pink in this picture-they are slightly bluer.

On my previous trip to Ynyslas I saw a lot of common blue butterflies flitting mostly around the birdsfoot trefoil-one of their caterpillars food plants. Heres a study I've completed of them,in watercolour and graphite with a tiny pearlescent shell,of which there were many.
The blues have lovely pink undertones with a blue irridescency and furry bodies.

We finally got a break from the rain the other morning so I went back to Ynyslas to look for Bee orchids -Ophrys apifera,(I'm not obsessed with orchids am I?).
They usually grow in sheltered dunes among the Marram grass here close to the boardwalk but I couldn't find any at all-not one.Apparently they do show up erratically from year to year,so I'm sure they'll be back or I could widen the search.I really hope no one has been picking them.
 The marsh orchids were dying off but there were plenty of the beautiful Pyramidal orchids - Anacamptis pyramidalis among the marram grass and lots of tiny marsh helleborines - Epipactis palustris in the damp dune slacks.

I also found this gold chafer? beetle-if anyone knows what it is I'd love to know!

Lastly heres a photo of the view from the top of the boardwalk.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Foxgloves and the Holy well

Forestry Commision Wales have recently opened up a trail near Strata Florida Abbey to an ancient holy well,dating from the 11th century AD(as old as the Cistercian abbey) or possibly even older. The trail only takes one hour and winds through old oak woodlands,then crossing a large,tumbling stream (the Afon Glassffrwd).The woodland is classed as ancient (continuosly wooded from 1600 AD) and so there is a good variety of ground flora, including bluebells,bilberry,greater stichwort, common cow wheat and wood sorrel. This is wonderful to see,as most of the woodlands in Wales are conifer plantations.

The holy well is found in an area of felled woodland, which has been planted with conifer and broadleaved tree saplings.For now its a wide open space with views of the hills and tall, magenta foxgloves everywhere.(Most were taller than me!!).

I saw many bird species including skylarks and stonechats.
Recently there have been numerous sightings of a golden eagle in this area of the Cambrian mountains-an escapee from Ireland apparently.Unfortunately I didn't see it today.

The trail wound back to the woodland to the river crossing,and the exposed twisted roots of an old oak.

The foxgloves are one of my favourite flowers to paint and also one of the first I ever painted.Their individual flowers have interesting patterns and tiny white hairs.Quinacridone magenta and permanent magenta are the perfect colours for them. The painting below has a graphite drawing of common sorrel behind;not sure if I like the whole composition so I may redo one day.

Another woodland plant I saw plenty of was the pink campion -Silene dioica.

Thanks for all your lovely comments also.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Cors Caron

The weather here in Wales has been hot and sunny for 2 days now!Summers here and work is so busy too,but managed to walk round Cors Caron-Tregaron bog (cors is bog in welsh). This is a large raised peat bog which lies close to the river Teifi.It is composed of very slowly decaying Sphagnum mosses and other plants that form peat. The conditions are obviously waterlogged and acidic on the bog so not species rich,however at the edges of the bog (the lagg) species are far greater in number. There are many dragon flies and damselflies whizzing around the pools edges. Lizards and snakes can be found basking in the sun on the wooden boardwalk that crosses the bog in a circular path , but I didn't see any of those yesterday.

This is the sculpted entrance to the boardwalk.

Here is a view over some of the pools with a few whisps of cotton grass in the foreground.

Cotton grass clumps wave in the breeze.

 I saw lots of heath spotted orchids (Dactylorhiza maculata), at the edge of the bog ,with their very pale and lightly patterned flowers.
There were also large clumps of yellow flag iris and foxgloves.

 I have done some quick sketches with coloured pencils today but the cotton grass sketches are from 2006.

Cotton grass sketches

Horsetail,damselfly and mosses

This completed painting from a few years ago (2006) is assignment 11 from the SBA diploma course, working in the field. It shows various plants studied from the bog including bog bean (Menyanthes trifoliata), bog rosemary(Andromeda polifolia) with a dissected flower and insect eating sundews (Drosera rotundifolia) depicted with various mosses. I got a very good mark for this, not surprising as this was my favourite assignment on the whole course and reflected my love of wild plants, field work and conservation of these habitats.