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u3a Botany Group - 18 June, 2024 - Trip to Hoy

by Jenny Taylor - 11:48 on 03 July 2024

Having dithered about going ahead due to the recent erratic weather, we decided to proceed with our trip to Hoy to look for a variety of Orchids, Moonwort and whatever else we could spot. Arriving at the Moaness pier we were soon made aware that the weather was not going to play ball and were all grateful for our full waterproofs, hats and even gloves (in mid June!) as the rain and low cloud continued.

We set off walking up the road from Moaness towards Sandy Loch. The first section of the road verges had unfortunately recently been cut, which was unfortunate, but we still noted many plants along the way. Higher up the road we searched for Small White Orchid in one of its known sites, but without success. (It is very small and flowering may have been over.)  Onwards to the Braebister corner where the Early Marsh Orchids were also proving elusive as the weather drove us back to the shelter of the burn where we hunkered down for a lunch break.

The highlight of the day, especially for those of the group who had never seen the plant before, was the Moonwort growing on both sides of the banks towards Sandy Loch. Between us we found seven plants, but there are likely more and we also enjoyed the diversity of species growing on these banks.

After some time in this area and the weather still being poor, we made the return walk to Moaness and the shelter and sustenance of the cafe (here the main plant of interest was the rhubarb in the very excellent jam). By the time we were heading for the ferry the weather had improved and the return crossing was much improved from the morning’s. 

Some species noted over the day include - Comfrey, Charlock, Wild Garlic, Northern Marsh and Heath Spotted Orchid (and their hybrids), Birdsfoot Trefoil, Bush Vetch, Coltsfoot, Red Campion, Field Horsetail, Meadow Vetchling, Primrose, Meadowsweet, Greater Woodrush, Creeping Willow, Cuckoo Flower, Tormentil, Ragged Robin, Milkwort, St John’s Wort, Marsh Thistle, Catsear, Lesser Trefoil, Heath Speedwell, Slender and Arctic Eyebright, Black Bog Rush, Round and Long-leaved Sundew, Fir Clubmoss, Selfheal, Hard Fern, Common and Marsh Lousewort, Thyme, Grass of Parnassus, Yellow Rattle, Procumbent Pearlwort, Heath Bedstraw, Butterwort, Slender St John’s Wort, Hare’s tail Cottongrass, Crowberry, Heather, Bush Vetch, Meadow Vetchling, Red Clover, Water avens, Angelica, Celandine, Greater Woodrush, Ragwort, Cross-leaved Heath, Crowberry, Glaucous, Common and Yellow Sedges and Moonwort.

All in all, and despite the rain, wind and cold, everyone seemed to enjoy the day and a large variety of species were noted; this really illustrates the positivity and resilience of the members of the U3A botany group!

Botanists in the rain


Moonwort and wild thyme


Grass of Parnassus

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