Author Archives: Kay B

Perhaps it’s “too darn hot”…

The cattle and the ponies on Newborough Warren are definitely finding things a little too hot. And they have a Catch 22 situation: if they go under the trees for a bit of shade, the horse flies are ferocious.

galloway_on_warren

One of the belted Galloway cattle on Newborough Warren.

Young broadleaved trees, especially the willows, birches and sycamores are showing marked drought stress.

scorched_willow

A scorched young willow behind the dunes of Penrhos Beach

Signs have been put up around the forest warning of the extreme risk of it going on fire. Mostly people are heeding these, but there are always exceptions and there have been some small fires, which have, thankfully, been controlled and put out before over much damage is done.

fire_risk_warning_sign

NRW Extreme Fire Risk warning sign, Newborough Forest

Over on the mainland things are worse, the smoke from the wildfire by Carmel, near Caernarfon, was clearly visible from Llanddwyn Beach this morning.

carmel_fire

Smoke from the gorse/mountain wildfire by Carmel seen from Llanddwyn Beach this morning.

There seems to be no rain likely in the near future. Things are going to get tougher. It seems churlish to wish this weather to end, but I do!

Advertisements

A swarm in June

It was a treat to see this swarm of bees on the edge of the forest this morning. They were resting on a small willow tree. The weight of the swarm was so great it had pulled the branch right down so it almost touched the ground.

beeswarm2

A swarm of honey bees on the edge of Newborough Forest

Trialling treelessness…

Towards the end of last year, Natural Resources Wales gave notice that they planned to fell a four hectare block of the forest in order to establish an area in which to conduct “hydrological monitoring”. Off and on through the winter that clearfelling and site “preparation” work has been ongoing. The major works have now finished, the machines have left and the site has been fenced off…

Newboroughclearfell3_042018

The area clearfelled on the edge of the forest for hydrological monitoring.

newborough_trial_sign

NRW information sign for the hydrology trial site

The management of the forest is always a controversial issue and this trial is no exception…

The plan is for the area to be grazed: clearly that can’t happen for a while as the surface has been scraped and raked clear of all the vegetation that was there.  That is why the smart new fencing has been put around the area (to contain the future grazing animals), even though the forest is a designated open access area…

And then, in four years time, the area may or may not be planted with some scrubby/shrubby trees like rowans, hawthorns, hazels and birches.

clearfell2042018

Newborough Forest clearfell coupe April 2018

Icy sands and Eleanor’s bottles

Yesterday was a perfectly clear, sunny and bitingly cold day – perfect on Penrhos Beach. It was so cold that the dunes were frozen solid; the rock pools had a covering of ice; and there was a line of ice crystals all the way along the beach marking where the tide turned.

180108icebeach4 - Edited

Tideline ice glinting in the morning sun. Penrhos Beach, Newborough

180108iceonbeach2 - Edited

Ice crystals at the tideline

It was the first chance I’d had to visit the beach since storm Eleanor blew through last week. She has eaten into the dunes some more and exposed dozens and dozens of old(ish) bottles – and lots of other not so nice trash too.

180108elinorbottles2 - Edited

A few of the bottles exposed by Storm Eleanor on Penrhos Beach, Newborough

Fatbergs – palm oil pollution?

The Daily Post has been warning that the wreck of the Kimya, which sank in 1991, was disturbed by the recent storms and palm oil from it is once again washing ashore on Anglesey.

Sure enough, today Penrhos Beach was littered with lumps of a white soapy substance that had a very strong smell, like diesel or tar.

And floating on the tide there were more lumps, looking like miniature ice bergs.

fatberg_llanddwyn_03112017

A “fatberg” floating infront of Llanddwyn Island

palmoilllanddwyn03112017

All the white blobs are lumps of a stinky, waxy substance – possibly some kind of processed palm oil. At first glance, they looked like polystyrene breaking up.

There were also a couple of lumps of yellowish, waxy stuff – more what I associate with palm oil – which doesn’t smell like diesel, just a bit like rancid fat and these seem to be more attractive to the birds (and presumably dogs too). If this is palm oil, it can make dogs very ill – so be careful. I can’t imagine it’s very good for any aspect of the marine environment, but Natural Resources Wales seem uninterested, saying it is the Council’s responsibility to clean up…

palmoileatenbybirds_05112017s

A smaller piece of yellowish “palm oil” that the birds have been feeding on

palmoilpenrhosbeach205112017s

Today, 5th November, many lumps of fat remain on the beach, but the wind is doing a good job of covering them up.

On a lighter note, the Council have put out their warning signs for jellyfish…

Anglesey Council jellyfish sign

Portuguese Men o’ War

For about a month, Portuguese men o’ war (Physalia physalis) have been washing up on Cornish beaches. Now they have arrived at Newborough too. I spotted one at the start of the week. Today there were about a dozen dotted along the tide line.

PortuguesManoWar281017

A Portuguese Man o’ War on Penrhos beach Newborough

I had never seen one of these in real life (or death) before, and I was surprised at how petite they are. The sails, or balloons, of the ones I’ve seen are only around 20cm long and 10cm tall at the most. Their colours are stunning.

PMoWwithfish281017

Portuguese Man o’ War complete with a little fish in its tentacles (and a pound coin to show its size)

Portuguese Men o’ War are related to the Borne by the Wind Sailors (Velella velella) that washed up earlier in the year.

Sadly, there have also been lots of dead seals washed ashore lately: mostly young pups, still coated in their pale baby fur. In south Wales it is being reported that as many as two-thirds of this year’s seal puppies have been killed by the storms. I wouldn’t be surprised if the situation is just as bad here:(

After storm Ophelia

After the eerily quiet start to the day, storm Ophelia hit north Wales with brutal force from Monday afternoon through into Tuesday.

1710boardwalkview

View from the boardwalk the morning after Ophelia

On Penrhos Beach, the sand cliffs have been eaten into again. There is now a vertically faced step of three to six feet running most of the length of the beach. That means it will be harder to “escape” if you get trapped by the tide on the beach. In addition, the whole of the sand cliff has become unstable again – much like it was after storm Imogen in 2016.

1910penrhossandcliffs

The sand cliffs the length of Penrhos beach have been undermined and are crumbling

Within the newly exposed face of sand, I found this perfectly preserved Jewsbury and Brown Spardal bottle, complete with its rubber screw cap. Jewsbury and Brown were taken over by Schweppes in 1964. Perhaps it is possible that this bottle has lain in the sands for more than 50 years…

1910jandbspardalbottle

Jewsbury and Brown Spardal Mineral Water bottle complete with its original vulcanite screw stopper

1910jandbbottlecap

Detail on the top of the J and B mineral water bottle stopper

I also found an “American style cola” drink can buried in the sand cliff with a date of May 1996.

coketinfrom1996_281017

A coke tin sticking out from the sand cliff face: its date (top line) is May 96.

Sandcliffwithcoketin281017

The sand cliff face where the coke tin was. The tin was about two feet off the ground in a cliff about 14 feet tall.

There must’ve been about 12 feet of sand above the coke tin. Presumably all accumulated since 1996. Wow.