After yesterday’s storm with its hurricane force winds, the beach is littered with jellyfish and parts of jellyfish.
I think this may be a barrel jellyfish (Rhizostoma pulmo). One of the few intact jellies on the beach.
One of the many scarf-like jellyfish “fronds” on the beach
There are also plenty of windblown trees throughout the forest, mainly they’ve been cleared from the roads, but some are still blocking the track to the residents’ car park.
Fallen trees on the track to the residents’ car park
Following the pre-Christmas storms, Penrhos Beach looks like an apocalypse zone for shellfish: millions of their shells have been torn up and strewn across the sands.
Thousands of razor clam shells carpet the beach
Quite a few of the shellfish are still alive, but they’re easy pickings for the seagulls and crows who are having a proper Yuletide feast!
One of the shellfish survivors
All that is left of what must have been a giant-sized crab is its claw
Stunningly coloured scallop shells
At another part of the beach, the sand has been turned black by what looks like coal dust.
In parts, the beach has been turned black with what looks like coal dust: it makes beautiful patterns
And further along about halfway between Llanddwyn and the wreck of the brig Athena, part of an old ship’s rigging has been brought to the surface. It looks like a giant padlock, but apparently it is where one of the cross-beams on an old wooden sailing ship would have attached to the main mast.
The underside of the curve is wood the top is an iron band attached to two straps that wrap around a wooden beam at the bottom (the wood is still intact)
Tomorrow, the storms are meant to return with a vengeance :(
Improvements to the bird hide at Llyn Rhos Ddu, the little lake by the Marram Grass car park, are finished.
Llyn Rhos Ddu bird hide – outside
Some beautiful timber has been used to make new shutters, a bench and a porch. This means the hide is more easily accessible – you no longer have to slide the heavy door out of the way.
The inside of the hide with its new bench, shelf and shutters
The hide is easily reached from the car park: it’s only about 30m along a level path and there is space for wheelchairs inside. It’s a great place for watching swans, herons, egrets, ducks and coots.
Today was incredibly windy and although all the coots, ducks and swans were facing one way, they were being blown in the opposite direction by the wind :)
Incongruous but beautiful, so late in the year the yuccas at the edge of the forest are flowering.
Unopened flower buds
Amidst the spiky leaves the stems of the yuccas lie broken and sprawling on the ground, but they’re still growing strong.
If the fancy takes you, you can eat yucca flowers: their texture is a little bit like iceberg lettuce and their flavour a little bit like freshly podded peas – quite nice really:)
The beach crows eke out their living by scavenging and foraging at the water’s edge and in the strandlines. They’re just regular carrion crows (Corvus corone) but have carved out a specialist niche for themselves at the beach.
Beach crows are quite happy with their feet in the water
Beach crows spend a fair bit of time picking sand hoppers and sand flies from sea weed that washes ashore.
Sometimes they find a piece of crab or a shellfish and they’ll fly up and drop it on the rocks to break into it – just like the seagulls do
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.
Yuccas on the fringe of Newborough Forest.
Apparently when the Forestry Commission first planted at Newborough, they indulged themselves by planting a diverse range of non-commercial species as well as the main conifer plantation. Amongst the various species planted were yuccas. Around the fringes of the forest, you still find the occasional yucca growing: whether they originate from those first plantings or are later arrivals, I don’t know.