June 16th 2015: There are several ways to get to the Hay Meadow in Waun Las; walk there, which is what Howard and Chris did; or take the car unload Jan at the gate and park in Allt Goch as Keith did; or take a car to Pantwgan and walk from there. The latter, as we discovered after an interesting little walk, doesn’t work as there are no gates into that field from there.
What we did see on the way was a rather large, elegant Downy Birch tree. This Birch is a deciduous broadleaf tree native to the UK and northern Europe and northern Asia. It is one of two birches native to the UK, and differs only subtly from Silver Birch (Betula pendula) with which it often hybridises. Mature trees can reach 30m in height, forming a light canopy with elegant, drooping branches, which this one certainly had. Trees are more upright than silver birches and the bark is more brown in colour with more obvious horizontal grooves. The leaves are triangular in shape but more rounded at the base than silver birch leaves. leaf stalks are downy, as opposed to hairless on silver birch.
After this little detour we eventually drove to the gate at the Hay Meadow and parked there and joined the others to view the magnificent spectacle that this Hay Meadow presents. An abundance of Yellow Rattle, Eyebright and masses of the ‘Dandelion’ variations of Hawkweed and the like. And Orchids, mainly the purple Southern Marsh, Common Spotted and hybrids of these, but also the Butterfly Orchids some of which we had spotted 10 days before on the walk with Richard Pryce. The route taken on that walk was mainly around the edges. This time we started mainly along the centre and outwards from there. So between the two walks has given us a general view of the whole area.
As far as the Orchids are concerned the Purple varieties are fairly well spread, indeed spreading. And in the more northern sheltered sections away from the prevailing westerly winds there are several clumps numbering up to a 100 or so. There were also clumps of Butterfly Orchids around the these edges as well as one within the centre of the field, but as not many of them were in flower it needs another visit to establish the full extent and numbers.
After having our fill of this truly magnificent meadow Anne joined the walkers to go back to the restaurant and had the thrill of hearing a Tree Pipit – not a very common bird at all.
Many thanks to John and Peter for their photos and to Anne for her notes. Many thanks as always to them. 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 find an injured bird, hedgehog or other wild animal and want help and advice then phone the Gower Bird hospital on 01792 371630.
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