פברואר 28, 2024

Streets of Lisbon, Portugal, Wed Feb 28 2024

[Originally published at iFieldnotes.org]

Author: Daniel Hartley

Date: Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Time: 08:30-09:30

Lisbon, Portugal

Weather: 12°C, dry and sunny with a light cold wind from the N

Habitat: City streets

The pavements in my neighbourhood are cleared of plants only occasionally. During lockdown they were left to themselves but in normal years the grass often slips through the gaps between the limestone sets - known locally as calçada.

Author's photos


Ruderal species

A plant species that is first to colonize disturbed lands. The disturbance may be natural – for example, wildfires or avalanches – or the consequences of human activities.

Ruderal plants are quick to claim abandoned buildings and ruined walls, neither of which are uncommon.

Author's photos


Modern cranes and brick chimneys from the last century and before are temporary visitors and long-term inhabitants.

Author's photos


These plants are largely town dwellers or found on abandoned plots but fennel, sow thistles and the Bermuda buttercup are also a familiar sight in the countryside around Lisbon.

Fennel is native to the Mediterranean and is found on dry soil near riverbanks and by the sides of roads close to where water has collected.

Plants and lichen find refuge on high walls where they are less likely to be disturbed.

Author's photos


Both ivy-leaved toadflax and pellitory of the wall - or spreading pellitory - favour slightly damp and sheltered places. Both have a tendency to spread.

The flower stalk of ivy-leaved toadflax is unusual for seeking light until it is fertilised after which it grows away from the light.

Wall pennywort favours shady walls or damp crevices.

Author's photos


Lisbon is undergoing rapid change. Plants find space where and when there is an opportunity.

Field trip photos


הועלה ב-פברואר 28, 2024 03:03 אחה"צ על ידי danielhartley danielhartley | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

פברואר 27, 2024

Velvet Groundsel, Lisbon, Portugal, Mon Feb 12 2024

[Originally published at iFieldnotes.org]

Author: Daniel Hartley

Date: Monday, 12 February 2024

Time: 15:00-16:00

Lisbon, Portugal

Weather: Sunny 16-18°C

Habitat: City park

Field trip photos


Velvet groundsel is native to Central America but it flourishes in Lisbon's parks. The visitors to its flowers are numerous and native.

Author's photos


In mid afternoon the yellow flowered bushes receive direct sunlight. Western honey bees are everywhere, too numerous to count. Drone flies and red admirals are also frequent visitors.

There is a contingent of large carpenter bees which can also be seen hovering around the dead branches and hollow trunks of Judas trees and European hackberries. They have been here every year at this time since I first visited eight years ago.

Author's photos


The pollen basket on the hind legs of female western honey bees are clearly visible.


The pollen basket or corbicula (plural corbiculae) is part of the tibia on the hind legs of the female of certain species of bees. They use the structure in harvesting pollen and carrying it to the nest or hive where it is used as food by the colony.

The bushes are almost three metres in height, above average for the species. The leaves are the size of a hand and the inflorescences are formed by panicles similar in size to the leaves but slightly convex.


Group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem composed of a main branch or complicated arrangement of branches.

A much-branched inflorescence, often of racemes. It may have determinate or indeterminate growth. Typical of grasses such as oat.

The flowers do not attract everyone. Speckled woods - the most abundant butterfly in the park - appear to ignore them and I observed one large white pass over the bushes and then return without showing any interest. I have observed both of these species on plants with white flowers.


Yellow, orange, and red organic pigments that are produced by plants and algae, as well as several bacteria, archaea, and fungi.

The yellow colouring of groundsel flowers is due to carotenoids.

Author's photos


הועלה ב-פברואר 27, 2024 08:19 לפנה"צ על ידי danielhartley danielhartley | 11 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

פברואר 24, 2024

Tapada das Necessidades, Lisbon, Wednesday Jan 24 2024

[Originally published at iFieldnotes.org]

Daniel Hartley

Wednesday, 24 January 2024

Lisbon, Portugal

In the afternoon I headed to one of my local parks, Tapada das Necessidades, the unruly gardens of a former royal palace. After a short cold snap and a week of rain, the skies had cleared, and the days had grown warm. The temperature reached 18° by mid afternoon.

Field trip photos


Bear's breaches (Acanthus mollis) dominates where the ground is untended, crowding out other species. Where the ground has been cleared or where there is direct sunlight other plants appear. Mediterranean nettles flourish and resting on one of them was a Speckled wood butterfly, a regular and common visitor to this park.

I had expected to see mushrooms after the heavy rains (and despite the recent dry days) but I saw none. The birds, however, were vocal and active. They flitted across the sun dappled path.

Author's photos


I came across a bee upended on the path, its abdomen thick with pollen. I placed it to one side, and turned it the right way up. A male violet carpenter bee woken from its winter dormancy. It was slow and listless; perhaps it had over exerted itself feeding. I was not far from a large bush of velvet groundsel (Roldana petasitis). This plant, or group of plants, will be in flower soon and is annually the site of great activity among various species of bees including carpenter bees.

Small flowers make an appearance early in the year. I saw several specimens of stork's-bills, periwinkles, common field-speedwells and Bermuda buttercups, the last two non-native. The Bermuda buttercups will soon be ubiquitous, their lively yellow swathes blocking out less successful local plants.

Author's photos


The park is a secret garden visited by few but it possesses a scruffy elegance and its grand views remain splendid. In addition to feral cats and twenty or thirty peacocks and peahens, and a gaggle of greylag geese, it has become home to a hundred or more chickens.

The trees that shade the long avenue are Celtis australis, the European nettle tree or Mediterranean hackberry. They are deciduous trees native to Southern Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor, and although not found in the wild here, are a common feature in urban areas, providing shade in the summer and letting in light in winter.

Field trip photos


הועלה ב-פברואר 24, 2024 08:26 לפנה"צ על ידי danielhartley danielhartley | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

פברואר 21, 2024

Arrábida, Portugal, Thursday Nov 9 2023

[Originally published at iFieldnotes.org]

Daniel Hartley

Thursday, 9 November 2023

Vale dos Barris, Arrábida

My observations were made in the Serra do Louro within the Arrábida Natural Park (Parque Natural da Arrábida), a protected area in the district of Setúbal which lies about twenty kilometres south of Lisbon.

The day was clear anfd bright, between 18º and 20ºC, not unusual for the time of year. On the south and east facing slopes of the serra, where there is shelter from westerly breezes, it felt three or four degrees warmer. The ground, however, was wet due to overnight rain of which there has been a great deal in recent weeks.

iNat species


I began the day at the Capela das Necessidades which is situated on the left (top or north) side of the Vale dos Barris, in the freguesia (parish) of São Simão.

My intention was to observe the common native trees I would expect to find and to separate out the various oaks (Kermes, Holm, Cork and Portuguese) and pines (Umbrella or Stone, Maritime and Aleppo) which grow in the park.

Field trip photos


A Stone Pine on the escarpment above the chapel caught my attention almost at once, and I decided to scramble up the small bluff that led to it. It took an hour to catalogue it as best I could and to record the species that lay within twenty or so feet of it.

Author's photos


Of the other trees in the vicinity, there were several Kermes oaks, junipers and an olive tree. The uncultivated slopes and lower slopes of the serra is maquis so I was not surprised to see Mediterranean Buckthorn, asparagus, rosemary, mastic, Flax-leaved Daphne, everlasting-flowers and cistus (Montpellier cistus).

iNat species


After the fire that had affected 400 hectares two years earlier, a great many Sea Squills had sprung up. I saw one dead adult but numerous rosettes of green which are quite different in appearance to that of the mature plant. Their leaves are dark green and leathery in texture.

Among the species I was unable to record were a dozen or so butterflies though I believe I recognised several Clouded Yellows and Green-striped Whites among them.

iNat species


After completing my study - and without battery life to continue recording - I followed the gentle curve of the serra as it banked north and east towards Palmela. Instead of taking the upper path or dropping down to the unmetalled road I commonly take, I followed an unmarked path through relatively clear wood.

Many of the trees were pine saplings but I was not sure if they were Maritime or Aleppo pines. When young their bark was smooth and light grey and as they matured the lower bark grew darker and fissured. The cones were sessile. I recorded them as Aleppo pines.


Having no stalk, borne directly from the stem or peduncle, and thus lack a petiole or pedicel.

There was an abundance of European Jack-O'-Lanterns (I could see 14 from where I took photos of one specimen) both alongside the path and scattered among the trees. There were also a great many flies which had not troubled me on previous trips and may have been due to the presence of wild boar.

Their scat was everywhere and they appeared to have eaten the berries of mastic which were in fruit on the lower part of the escarpment where the trees thinned. It is likely the paths I was following had been made by them as they criss-crossed the slopes, and where they descended in search of food and water.

iNat species


After stopping for lunch, I took a path that brought me to the road/track which is flanked on the lower side by vineyards and on the upper by an abandoned fig orchard. I observed two dead fire salamanders, killed by vehicles. Because of the recent rains there were puddles on the track and water in the ditches which may have drawn them out. Where the track became the road proper, I followed the steep path which ascends the southern flank of the Serra do Louro.

I rejoined the Roteiro dos Moinhos da Serra do Louro at Cabeço das Vacas, and continued along it to my endpoint in Palmela. Notable were the birds of prey that twice overflew me and which may have been Peregrine falcons.

iNat species


As always on this path, I was accompanied by butterflies and nomads. Today there were Red Admirals, A Swallowtail, Small Coppers, and what may have been a Painted Lady or Speckled Wood. The ground often came alive as Blue-winged Grasshoppers, startled by my presence, scattered. The vegetation on the top of the serra is garrigue and on either side of the path I saw wild thyme and lavender from which characteristic fragrances could be raised by a sweep of the hand.

הועלה ב-פברואר 21, 2024 03:33 אחה"צ על ידי danielhartley danielhartley | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה