Category Archives: Newborough Warren

Loafing

Newborough’s enjoyed a good spell of warm sunny weather recently. The biting fly season has also just begun. The ponies on the warren find some relief from both the heat and the flies by loafing in the bare sand areas.

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…a lump of sand makes a nice place to rest your head…

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Sixty years of being a National Nature Reserve

This year is the 60th anniversary of Newborough Warren’s designation as a National Nature Reserve.

It might seem a bit obvious, but, obviously it’s a warren because of the rabbits. There are lots of stories about why the rabbits are here. And the rabbits’ relationship with the managers of the warren hasn’t always been a happy one, but they are an intrinsic part of the landscape now.

Newborough Warren with the mountains of the Llyn Peninsula in the background

Newborough Warren with the mountains of the Llyn Peninsula in the background

So here’s to the warren – pen-blwydd hapus. And to the rabbits, blissfully unaware of the birthday celebrations going on around them. And here’s an old photo (the one I began this blog with some time ago now) of how things used to look when the trees of Newborough Forest were still tiny.

The view to Llanddwyn before the forest grew

The view to Llanddwyn before the forest grew

Sylvia’s bench

Sylvia was a Shiba Inu dog who became lost and then sadly drowned off Newborough Beach in January 2015.

In memory of Sylvia

In a gesture of gratitude to the local people who helped search for Sylvia, and as a lasting memorial to the little dog, her owner commissioned a new bench.

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The bench is now in place at the edge of the forest looking across the warren, to the mountains and the big forever beyond.

Sylvia's bench and the view across the warren to the mountains beyond

Sylvia’s bench and the view across the warren to the mountains beyond

You will find the bench about halfway along the path that leads from the Marram Grass car park (Llyn Rhos Ddu) to the edge of the forest and down to the sea.

A walk over heart attack hill (?!)

Heart attack hill isn’t really a hill – it’s a big dune. I don’t think anyone’s actually had a heart attack there either, but you do quite often find summer visitors bent double half way up it puffing and panting and wondering if they’ll make it to the top! So, it gained a nickname of heart attack hill.

The waymarker at the top of heart attack hill and the big view towards the Llyn Peninsula

The waymarker at the top of heart attack hill and the big view towards the Llyn Peninsula

The view to Snowdonia

The view to Snowdonia

The big views, abundant wild flowers and insects, hunting hawks and buzzards and, in summer, screaming swifts make it a fabulous place. There’s even a bench at the end to reward you for your efforts – although “the end” is only halfway because you’ve still to make it back to where you started.

The lonesome pine - close to the end of the path.

The lonesome pine – close to the end of the path.

The bench at the end of the path looking over the Menai Strait to the mainland, with Abermenai Point to the right

The bench at the end of the path looking over the Menai Strait to the mainland, with Abermenai Point to the right

The path over heart attack hill begins at the end of the lane that leads down past Hen Erw Wen – the left turn after St Peter’s Church. That lane is very narrow and there is no parking on it: it’s fine on foot, but don’t take your car down it. If you are travelling by car, the nearest car park is the Marram Grass one at Llyn Rhos Ddu. The start of the path is signposted at the gate (OS Grid Ref SH 42080 64440). There are waymarker posts along its length – although sometimes they’re buried quite deeply in drifting sand.

In total, it’s only about a mile and a half from the start gate to the bench at the edge of the Menai Strait tidal area, but it can seem a surprisingly long mile and a half. And whatever the weather, there will be more of it along this path: if it’s a windy day, it will be really windy; if it’s cold, it will be freezing; hot will be boiling; and wet will be super wet. But it will also be super nice and rewarding:)

OS excerpt from Bing showing where the path begins.

OS excerpt from Bing showing where the path begins.

The great pyramids of Newborough

Mmm. That doesn’t sound quite right, and it certainly doesn’t look right!

Newborough's new pyramids

Newborough’s new pyramids

Early this spring, NRW and their contractors brought out their big toys – excavators, bulldozers and tipper trucks – to continue with their resculpting of the duneland.  These sculptures are the result of their trying to make nature do as they think she ought.

These “pyramids” have been created to the south east of the forest – at the end of the path that runs from the Marram Grass car park. They’re accompanied by a huge scrape.

This is how it looked in 2013 - the last dune before the sea at the end of the path from the Marram Grass car park

This is how it looked in 2013 – the last dune before the sea at the end of the path from the Marram Grass car park

...and this is how it looks now

…and this is how it looks now

...and the giant scrape that accompanies them

…and the giant scrape that accompanies them

It’s ironic that the work is being done to “help rare plants and insects such as … mining bees” as the area which has been trashed was a very active one for the little mining bees to burrow in and they will have been unceremoniously scraped out of their winter sleep:(

Also gone for now are the many orchids, centaury, coltsfoot and other lovely plants that made the zone so attractive to people and wildlife. Fingers crossed that it recovers soon.

A view from the forest edge

A view from the forest edge

Froglets and flowers on the warren

In the forest, the first froglets started clambering out of the pools and ditches at the start of June. Those forest froglets were big, strong and quite golden in colour.

Today, out on the warren, some of the froglets in one of the pony watering holes were climbing out. These froglets are tiny and so dark they look almost black.

A tiny froglet making its way out of the pool

A tiny froglet making its way out of the pool

The water level in the pond has dropped meaning that the froglets have to clamber through sand before they can get anywhere: becoming completely coated with sand grains in the process.

...scrambling up the sand bank...

…scrambling up the sand bank…

...getting coated with sand...

…getting coated with sand…(there is a froglet here – right in the centre)

On the edge of the warren, a clump of hemlock water dropwort (the UK’s most poisonous plant) must have caught the eye of lots of people as a path has been worn to it through the scrub and rushes.

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Closer still to the tide line, pretty little sea milkwort flowers carpet the path.

Sea milkwort (Glaux maritima)

Sea milkwort (Glaux maritima)

There are plenty of colourful orchids flowering, and plenty of twayblades too – also an orchid, but an easily overlooked one as it has fairly inconspicuous green flower spikes with two broad leaves at the bottom: hence the name twayblade.

Twayblade flowers

Twayblade flowers

Pink: flowers of the forest and the dunes

Common centaury - Centaurium erthraea

Common centaury – Centaurium erthraea. You’ll find these mainly on the dunes and the edges of the forest.

Pink flowers are bursting open throughout the forest and the warren. Here are just a few:

Sea bindweed - Calystegia soldanella. Sea bindweed and field bindweed both have pink and white flowers, but on sea bindweed they are always mainly pink, with a white stripe. Sea bindweed also has fleshier leaves that are more rounded (similar to celandine leaves in a way).

Sea bindweed – Calystegia soldanella. Sea bindweed and field bindweed both have pink and white flowers, but on sea bindweed they are always mainly pink, with a white stripe. Sea bindweed also has fleshier leaves that are more rounded (similar to celandine leaves in a way). As the name says – it grows by the sea!

Field bindweed flower - Convolvulus arvensis.

Field bindweed flower – Convolvulus arvensis – is found further inland.

Bog pimpernel - Anagalis tenella - keeps very low to the ground and has tiny rounded leaves.

Bog pimpernel – Anagalis tenella – keeps very low to the ground and has tiny rounded leaves. You’ll find it on Newborough Warren.

Restharrow (Ononis repens): the English name comes from the tangle or roots and stems that used to make ploughing difficult.

Restharrow (Ononis repens): the English name comes from the tangle or roots and stems that used to make ploughing difficult. This is an incredibly tough plant – you can find it just about anywhere. Its roots taste slightly of liquorice, hence it is sometimes called wild liquorice (but there are other wild liquorices too).

Dog rose - Rosa canina

Dog rose – Rosa canina – grow throughout the forest.

And there maybe no mountains, but the wild thyme still grows around the blooming heather...:)

And there may be no mountains, but the wild thyme still grows around the blooming heather…:)