Ecology, Wales

Special trees!

Encountered by chance at Plas Newydd in Anglesey — reminded me of the power of rain and light.

Monterey Cypresses — native to California but thriving in Anglesey. Bill for scale!

These specimens seem so much more robust that the ones in pictures from California but I suspect this has to do with the wonderfully consistent rainfall in North Wales and careful arboriculture since they were planted in the 1950s — just look at the carbon they have sequested in my lifetime!

When we planted our 7000 trees in 2006 we didn’t really realise we were replanting a rainforest — but all the clues were there.

Here is some of the evidence of the rain forest potential of one of the wet western parts of Britain in which we live:

Trees dripping with mosses.
Mosses and ferns blanket the moist peat of the woodland floor.
Rainfall of up to a couple of metres per year — I stopped measuring it because, until this year, it really didn’t vary much.

Ferns and lichens and mosses taking advantage of every surface.

Forest floor before the explosion of all the other plants in the spring.
And a few weeks later.

Shamrocks, violets, wood anemones and blue bells scrambling to catch the light before it is stolen by the bracken or the tree canopy.

This cool, damp, verdant place bursts with life — these boletus fungi appeared all along the path between aspen and oak in the few days we were away, does anyone know what sort they are?



‘Twill all be over by Halloween — we will have a new leader and the doors to the underworld will swing closed again, though maybe not in Ukraine, or Pakistan, or Sri Lanka, or the Horn of Africa, or Nigeria or any of the other disaster areas that our mainstream media choses to ignore this week (and most other weeks). I don’t talk politics — I’m the silent majority.

But I’ve discussed it with my daughter’s dog who is visiting — he is practicing his ghastly howl just in case. Myself, having observed British politics for a long time and the habit, when in doubt, of electing rank outsiders — I’m off out first thing in the morning to put ten quid on Kemi Badenoch, who actually appears to be made of the right stuff — so who knows?


Island Sanctuary

We didn’t actually fly in to Brownsea Island in our sea plane.

Aerial photograph displayed in NT Visitor Centre

We arrived by boat, crossing Poole Harbour which is a large natural inlet on England’s south coast. Brownsea Island sits in the middle and affords unique protection to the species that live there.

Arriving at Brownsea quay.

This is what we came to see.

Red Squirrel at British Wildlife Centre by Cameraman (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Disgorged from the first boat of the day, almost immediately we are aware of frenetic activity — in the treetops, up and down the trunks and bounding across the grass — foraging red squirrels.

Small and very lively — difficult to catch. Thriving, away from predators and disease, in this more bio-secure environment.

At the north-east corner of the island is a large brackish lagoon, built in the mid 19th century as a polder to reclaim land from shallow sea for agriculture — it was flooded in the 1930 and has remained flooded since. Though the water is shallow, suitable for dabblers rather than divers, it is sheltered and protected and has a colony up to 72 spoonbills which now breed on the island.

Distant view of spoonbills on the far side of the lagoon.

Spoonbills disappeared from the UK in the 1600s with the loss of their habitat, due to draining of wetlands for agriculture, and because of hunting. They have only recently returned and are still rare but are breeding in several locations helped by various schemes to recreate the sort of conditions that they find at Brownsea.


That’s Me — Before

The innocent girl on the cover, bewildered by the strangeness of post-war Britain.

And After

Read the events that changed the way I see the world. You don’t have to be a genius... published by Clinical Press, available on-line and as a Kindle book. Would make a good Christmas present!