25 Nov 2014


Colin Miles

Nov 11th – Our rain god kindly arranged to give us a thoroughly wet morning at the most convenient time for us. This enabled us to have a very good morning in the restaurant, pouring over all the Glastir maps and other documents that Bruce had provided. A lot to think about and discuss.

Nov 18th – Back to our usual Tuesday morning weather. In fact even better than usual. Glorious sunshine and very little in the way of wind, so the more able-bodied of us decided that now was the time to start surveying the fields of our National Nature Reserve. We did this, or tried to do this, using the DAFOR system of classification which is:
D = Dominant
A = Abundance
F = Frequency
O = Occasional
R = Rare
But, as we discovered, it isn’t that easy. And in any case we got distracted right at the start by a Buzzard wheeling overhead, the plumage showing up brilliantly against the blue sky. And it was shortly joined by a Red Kite and the two of them did a little dance for our benefit – which John attempted to photograph.

This was along the main path outside Cae Blaen, the first of the fields which we looked at though we didn’t go in. Dominance Rushes, probably around maybe 70% which is all we could really say at this point. But it was good to see a Missel Thrush in the trees there. And as we moved on towards the lakes we also heard a Nuthatch and Chris spotted a couple of Reed Buntings.

Then on into Cae Waun Las and the only thing we could really say about this at present is that it is obviously mainly pasture grazed by Sheep – no fungi sightings either. Then into the Whorled Caraway Meadow which is, for better or worse, mainly dominated by Rushes, again perhaps 70%. But in the clear patches where the Horses have grazed we soon found Fungi – mainly little brown, white and orange ones to start with. Then up by the Beech tree the larger Fungi, some of which you can see in the photos below. John and Marie also measured the circumference of the Beech tree – 5 metres which would make it around 250 years old. This ties in well with the old Oaks that we measured last year. Indeed it appears there are no trees older than that in the NNR or Garden, whilst most of the trees in the NNR would appear to be around 90 years old – anything older probably cropped during WW1.

But a little further on and we found something that everyone took a photo of. This was the beautiful yellow brain fungus (Tremella mesenterica) growing on the lichen on a branch of an Oak tree. If you go into the Stitching B exhibition in ‘From Another Kingdom’, you’ll see a lovely new patchwork of it.

Going further up into the next field our attention was drawn to a very one-sided Conifer which we still haven’t properly identified. What was rather peculiar were the 3 large dead trees near it looking as if they had, at some time in the past, been struck by lightning. The Rushes in this meadow, probably just as abundant in the previous were of a different, less coarse variety. We need more expert advice and help!

On the way back Chris paid a quick visit to the Waxcap meadow and found quite a few different ones including, we think, the Pink Ballerina.

Meanwhile, the other group, Peter, Keith and Jan, had been busy in the Double-Walled Garden and thereabouts. The unusually warm and sunny weather meant that there were quite a lot of pollinating insects around, especially in the corner round the Childrens Garden – Honey Bees, Hover Flies on the blue Geraniums, several Marmalade Hovery Flies , Fruit Flies and even a Queen Bumble Bee as well as a Wasp on Lonucera in the Japanese Garden. But best of all was the Painted Lady Butterfly, the first one Jan had seen all year!

Many thanks as always to John and Peter for their splendid photos. And if any volunteer or member wants to join us please send an email to Jane Down– you DON’T have to be an expert in anything, just interested. If you click on the Wildlife Walks heading on the left-hand side under News you will see a list of the last 10 Wildlife Survey blogs. If you find an injured bird, hedgehog or other wild animal and want help and advice then phone the Gower Bird hospital. on 01792 371630.