Yesterday storm Doris swept through Anglesey. For the first time I remember, the forest (and ostensibly the whole of the Nature Reserve) was announced to be “closed” due to dangerous conditions…
This morning, the sea was so calm it was hard to believe how powerful yesterday’s storm was.
There was little detritus washed up on the beaches: there were a few clumps of dead man’s fingers (Alcyonium digitatum)* – some of them were quite large. Usually when I see these it is just single lobes, not whole “hands”.
Deadman’s fingers (I think) – Alcyonium digitatum
There were lots of branches, twigs and cones blown down; quite a few trees leaning with their root plates lifted; and a few of the dead trees along the postman’s path had blown over. Other than that, in the parts of the forest and the beaches I’ve visited so far, the storm seemed to have left little by way of destruction.
One of the small dead trees blown across the Postman’s Path
One nice thing is that after each storm, the wind banks up the sand more and more, repairing the cuts that NRW cut through the dunes along Penrhos Beach.
One of the cuts made by NRW in the dunes along Penrhos Beach – nature is working hard to block these off again…
*I struggled to find where the name Alcyonium originated from until I found a lovely old book in Google called The Nature Displayed in the Heavens and on the Earth, written by Simeon Shaw in 1823. He says that the Alcyonium part of the name comes from a supposed resemblance of some species to the nest of the kingfisher (halcyon). And I think this is what these blobs are, but wouldn’t know for sure.
This little creature was washed up on the morning’s tide. It’s a sea mouse.
The underside of a sea mouse (Aphrodita aculeata)
I’ve never paid enough attention to these little creatures before, because usually it is their shaggy surface showing. But this one was upside down and its segments were clear to see, reminding me of a giant woodlouse. Then I picked it up and noticed its bristles and beautiful brassy fur down its sides.
This pictures doesn’t do it justice, but the “fur” down the sides of the “mouse” is beautiful and iridescent
The sea mouse isn’t a mouse, obviously: it’s actually a big fat worm! You can read more about them on the ecomare website. And see some fabulous microscope photos of sea mouse hairs on the Quekett website.
Today it was so cold on Penrhos beach that the soft sands above the tideline had frozen solid, creating a little frigid landscape of miniature mesas and buttes.
Frozen sands with their miniature desert-style landscape
Earlier this year, the remains of the Athena were more exposed than they have been for a long time.
The wreck of the brig Athena in May 2016
But gradually the sand level on Penrhos beach has got higher and higher and now you’d be hard pressed to even spot where the Athena lies.
The Athena looking towards Llanddwyn May 2016
The Athena early October 2016
The last stubs of the Athena poking through the sand 25th October 2016
(Maybe she was fed up of being photographed so much!)
I first spotted this bale of rubber washed up a few weeks ago. Today is the first time I’ve been back with a camera.
A rubber bale on Llanddwyn beach (with my size six foot for scale))
A quick scout round the internet shows that similar bales have washed up on the west coast in England and also in northern France.
A couple of years ago, the BBC ran a feature on rubber slabs that were washing up around the coast and they were traced back to a Japanese ship that sank off the Isles of Scilly in World War One. But those blocks were clearly stamped with the word Tjipetir. It looks like this block at Newborough might once have had some writing on, but it’s long since worn away. So, for the time being, the origins of this year’s beached rubber bales is a mystery.
No writing is visible on the rubber bale, but the imprinting of what must have been its burlap wrapping is clear to see and quite pretty.
Banners in the forest are advertising an upcoming art exhibition at the Pritchard Jones Institute in Newborough from 21st to 28th October.
These two jellyfish were washed in on the high “spring” tide this morning. I flipped one over, and I think they are barrel jellyfish (aka dustbin lid jellyfish – although these were only about 16″ across).
The last few nights have seen the highest tides of the year – and it will be a few years before they are so high again. But, because the weather has been so gentle, the tides have done very little damage; hardly even altering the shoreline.
The term “spring” in spring tide comes from old northern European languages meaning to burst (like a pipe springs a leak). The opposite is the “neap” tide, which means pinched (like nip) or scanty.
As well as the main footpaths and tracks throughout Newborough Forest, there are a lot of smaller orienteering routes waymarked. These trails take you into some of the nicest and less visited parts of the forest. On the weekend of 22nd and 23rd October 2016, there is going to be an open orienteering competition on these routes. See the poster below for more information: