Ecology, nature

Orgy on the Waun

Lovely day in Mid-Wales with a strange sound drifting over the forestry pond — like softly spoken geese. Not geese, not any bird, certainly not cicadas on this chilly, bright spring day. They are the muted tones of amorous amphibians — lovelorn toads!

Thirty, maybe fifty, in the pools of sunshine around the margins of the upland pond.

The smaller, more numerous, males clinging,piggy-back, onto the fecund females, bulging with eggs. Others joining in and some with their heads above the water calling.

See the strings of fertilized eggs and (below) an exhausted male!


Time traveller’s guide to Mid-Wales

The sun is shining, a domestic cat is yowling to announce its slaughter of a grey squirrel which it is dragging through the tall undergrowth of grasses, foxgloves but, this year, no policemen’s helmets (that is carnival policemen — pink helmets of Himalayan balsam): its June 2014 — elementary.

All these factors give away the time — grey squirrels in Wales puts us somewhere in the last 120 years, foxgloves bloom in June when it usually rains, but not this year!   Balsam only arrived recently — another invader, I prefer the notion of a pioneer species — but it doesn’t like floods in autumn and spring and, by God, we did have those.  That’s narrowed it down, June 2014 and the bins are out in the lane — it’s a Tuesday — it’s today!  I knew that all along!



What I want to say is that, here, June is pink and purple with foxgloves and thistles and clover and orchids.  May was blue and white (bluebells and wood anemones, dancing in the breeze) heady with the perfume of the May flowers and April was yellow.  In July the valley floor will be cream and scented with meadow-sweet.  June is pink.

Orchid meadow

Orchid meadow

Fritillary butterflies flit between the thistles, the air bumbles with bees and hums with wing-beats — I never was aware of the sound of bird’s wing until we came here.  The pied wagtails have fledged and are sitting on the truck to avoid the cats — there are some feathers on the ground.  The sparrows in the eves and the house-martins under the gable are still chattering in their nests.  They say ‘any time now’.  There is plenty to eat — a good year for midges and the damsel flies fluoresce in flashes around the pond.

In bed at night with the windows flung wide, there is squeaking in the yard as the bats whizz around on silent wings — Good night.

Ecology, Nature Photography

New Worlds above the Flood

It’s been raining quite a lot.  Between storms I’ve been having a new look at the world.

The stream is swollen and down the valley they complain that the drumming of the river keeps them awake at night.


We’ve moved our flock to higher ground to keep their feet dry and when the low winter sun comes out, which it has been doing quite often, every sheep has a silver lining:

?????????????????????????????We’ve been making the most of the sunny periods by cutting back the hedge rows so that the grass can grow with more light although we still need shelter for the beasts and privacy for lambing; behind the hedges we’re cutting back  the low branches and brambles that will whip us in the eye and snag us as we give assistance in the spring.

Winter working reveals aspects of the wildlife with which we share this land that are overshadowed or covered at other times of the year. Hover over these pictures for details:

Today I have been looking in a bit more detail at the moulds and fungi that surround us, if any of you recognise the species I’d love to hear from you – leave a comment.

Here are some mosses and lichen.   After the fall, some of the hawthorn and damson trees reveal so much lichen that they seem to be in blossom!

A whole world can exist on the top of a gatepost!

Gatepost with mini rain-forest

Gatepost with mini rain-forest of lichens and moss