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.
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
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.
Sunset from the viewing platform, Newborough
It’s only a year since the viewing platform at the edge of Newborough beach was built, but its future is already looking a little precarious. The dunes it is built on have eroded back by about four metres, meaning the platform is now teetering on the very edge of them. And with the new moon and high tides of the new year coming together with the persistent storms, who knows what will happen. A good reason to make the most of it now:)
Happy New Year – Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!
Last night’s strong winds and stormy seas have left their mark on the new boardwalk at Newborough: it now ends abruptly on the edge of a mini cliff of sand.
The boardwalk section that has been undermined at Newborough beach
The sections of the boardwalk that are missing have been washed along the shore.
And some of the boards that have been washed along the shore.
A cardinal marker buoy has also broken free from its moorings and is now sitting high on the beach near the main car park. The black fins on the marker buoy indicate the direction to which mariners should pass – in this case, as the arrows are pointing downwards, boats should’ve sailed to the south side of the buoy (when it was in situ, obviously).
And the marker buoy that has broken free and washed ashore.
Newborough forest pines at the edge of the shore
The Forestry Commission began planting Newborough forest back in the 1940s. It is now an established and diverse forest of immense character and beauty. The forest makes a beautiful backdrop to areas of the beaches of Llanddwyn and Penrhos.
Since April of this year, the Forestry Commission (Wales) has been subsumed into Natural Resources Wales (NRW). Whereas the Forestry Commission’s mission was (and still is in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland) to “protect and expand forests and woodlands” NRW’s mission is to “make the most of our natural resources”. Rather a bland and uninformative mission really. They also want to fell and then destump parts of Newborough Forest that abut the shore.
Monterey cypresses and sprawling pines at the forest edge
These forest edges provide some of the most atmospheric scenery at Newborough with trees sculpted by the wind and skeletal remains of dead trees that the woodpeckers love to feed on. The area abounds with wildlife: but not, on the whole, the “right” wildlife.
The reasoning on NRW’s part is that the site is not complying with the requirements of its Special Area of Conservation status: a status confirmed in 2004…when the forest had already been in existence for nearly 60 years.
A smattering of holm oaks (ever-green oaks) survive on the forest edge
It’s a sadly ironic situation that on an island that already has so little tree-cover there will soon be less.
The track along the edge of the forest and the dunes.
On the siltier (not the sandy) beaches around Anglesey you’ll often find marsh samphire growing. It’s known by many names, including ‘poor man’s asparagus’, but it doesn’t taste much like asparagus!
One day, there will be no signs of the plants. But then all of a sudden they will start to appear: usually around the end of May or early June. Once they’ve emerged, they grow very quickly, soon resembling a miniature forest if you’re down at their level or a carpet of grass from above.
This mudflat will soon be covered by marsh samphire – this photo was taken on 7th June
…the little tiny shoots were just beginning to appear
This is the same spot 12 days later. Hundreds of plants are now quickly growing.
Marsh samphire is edible, and it’s not unpleasant. The youngest shoots can be eaten raw. They’re crunchy, juicy, salty and taste fresh and ‘green’. As the stems mature, they’re usually steamed or briefly boiled before being tossed in butter to serve.
When the plants are older still and they’ve become a little tough, some people pull the cooked plants through their teeth to extract the inner flesh, leaving the skins behind.
Marsh samphire’s botanical name is usually given as Salicornia europaea.
One of the commonest plants on the dunes at Newborough is the sea spurge (Euphorbia paralias). If you see it early in the year, before it forms flowers, it looks more like a sprawling kind of stonecrop than a spurge.
Sea spurge in April
But once the flowers have formed, it’s unmistakably spurge-like.
Sea spurge in flower: like many Euphorbias, it has no petals or sepals.
Flowering sea spurge (with spikes of marram grass flowers poking through)
One of the nicest things about the beach is that it changes all the time and every tide brings new things to see.
Last year, for the first time, I found a jelly blob. Clearly “jelly blob” is not the proper
term for it, but it does describe what it was like. A small (about 2cm across) blob of
clear jelly with jade coloured strands in it. I found out, via the Natural History Museum‘s
website, that it was actually an egg mass of the green leaf worm (Eulalia viridis). I have
kept looking, but so far I haven’t seen the adult worms.
A Jelly Blob – aka the egg mass of the green leaf worm (Eulalia viridis)
At the other extreme, was this Lion’s Mane jellyfish that washed up on Traeth Penrhos. Funnily enough, another name for this is sea blubber.
Lion’s mane (Cyanea capillata) jelly fish on Penrhos beach (and a size 5 foot)