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…
The area clearfelled on the edge of the forest for hydrological monitoring.
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.
Newborough Forest clearfell coupe April 2018
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.
Tideline ice glinting in the morning sun. Penrhos Beach, Newborough
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.
A few of the bottles exposed by Storm Eleanor on Penrhos Beach, Newborough
Yesterday’s tide line on Penrhos beach comprised almost nothing but spiny spider crabs, hundreds, probably thousands of them. It looked like crabageddon.
Spiny spider crab shells
In fact, I am assured that these aren’t actually dead crabs, they are just the shells from the annual moult. Which explains why there were no birds taking any interest and no smells either. Somewhere out to sea there will be thousands of naked spiny spider crabs waiting for their new shells to grow.
I was puzzled how the crabs could manage to shed their shells, whilst seeming to leave the shells intact. How was that possible? Then it was explained to me that the shell can hinge open (hinging at the front) and the crab wriggles out the rear. Once I knew that, I had to go and check it out for myself.
Here’s a freshly washed up crab shell. You can tell it’s empty by giving it a tap and it sounds hollow.
And, sure enough, if you lift the back edge of the shell, it easily opens up to show you the empty space inside:)
I also spotted this “jellied” crab…
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!)