Saturday, 27 June 2009
In Loughor, Vervain (Verbena officinalis), Watercress (Nasturtium officinale), Lesser sea spurrey (Spergularia marina) and Wild privet (Ligustrum vulgare) were all in bloom. Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and Bramble (Rubus fructicosa) both had green fruits. A sawfly larva (Croesus septentrionalis) nibbled at my Silver birch, Common froghopper adults (Philaenus spumarius) waited to spring, a Scorpion fly (Panorpa communis) threatened, a Soldier and Sailor beetle (Rhagonycha fulva) marched and two Mirid bugs, Calocoris stysi and probably Lygus pratensis, lurked. In a year of butterfly shortage, the Small skipper (Thymelicus flavus) and the Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) made an appearance. In Bynea, Great willowherb (Epilobium hirsuitism), Redshank (Polygonum persicaria) and the alien Garden privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) were in flower whilst the European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were being blase.
There seems to be much general amusement concerning the wallabies in Tasmania suspected of creating 'crop circles' after getting stoned on opium poppies (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8118257.stm). Apparently, Tasmania is where the greatest legal concentrations of the poppy are grown to provide material for the medical manufacture of morphine and related materials. As far as the wallabies are concerned, the poppies are just an unfamiliar, rather succulent food item (the plant is alien to Tasmania). All mammals have morphine receptors in their brains to enable them to respond to their own natural pain-relieving chemicals (the so-called 'endorphins') that are released in emergencies (when there is no time to 'worry' about aches, knocks and bruises). The opium poppy has essentially manufactured an endorphin-shaped molecule concentrated particularly in its sap to protect its precious seeds and tissues from being eaten by animals. It's amazing what trouble these plant chemical defense mechanisms cause in humans. So don't sneer at the wallabies. Crop circles are quite a minor problem.
Thursday, 25 June 2009
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and Greater plantain (Plantago major) were in bloom in Loughor. Pale toadflax (Linaria repens), Hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cinnabinum), Square-stalked St John's wort (Hypericum tetrapterum) and Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) had emerged or were emerging in Bynea. There was also Barren brome grass (Bromus sterilis) in the latter location.
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
The Rosebay willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium) was fully in flower in Gowerton. In Loughor, the Ribbed melilot (Melilotus officinalis) was in bloom and a strange yellow and black Picture-winged fly (probably Urophora cardui) cavorted amongst the nettles. In Swansea, the alien Hamalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) was much in evidence near water.
The Daily Mail campaign against 'unsightly' wheelie bins in people's front yards (NIMFY) seems a bit odd given all the other problems that are currently evident (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1193528/Wheelie-bin-revolt-Householders-fight-monster-plastic-bins-blighting-gardens.html). I appreciate that these are not the most attractive or pleasant-smelling entities but they are certainly more secure than plastic bags that tend to be ripped open by wild animals, domestic animals, gulls and Jackdaws. They are also easier and quicker for the 'waste operatives' to collect that keeps down the cost of collections. Perhaps it would be better if they could be disguised in some way? Perhaps they could be made to look like giant mushrooms or duck houses?
Friday, 19 June 2009
Visited, in Loughor, by a Willow beauty moth (Peribatoides rhomboidaria) and saw a Glow worm (Lampyris noctiluca) by the boating club. In Bynea, Common mallow (Maltha sylvestris), White melilot (Melilotus alba), Cut-leaved cranesbill (Geranium dissectum), Great mullein (Verbascum thapsus) and the alien (but useful) Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) were all coming into flower. The red galls of the sawfly Pontania proxima were present on the Willow leaves. The wild thyme (Thymus polytrichus) was profuse at Rest bay.
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
The last day of the field course and took in the Fforest Fawr Mountains and the waterfalls of the River Neath and the Afon Mellte (including the impressive Sgwd yr Etra). In addition to abundant Foxglove, Germander speedwell, Yellow pimpernel, Herb Robert and Herb Bennet seen earlier in the course, Bluebell (Hyacynthoides non-scripta) clung on (later than at lower altitudes) but Water avens (Geum rivale), Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum), Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga) and Heath spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata) were much in bloom. In addition to the conifers, deciduous trees included the Sessile oak (Quercus petraea) and Small-leaved lime (Tili cordata). Substantial conifer clearings tended to be dominated by Rosebay willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium). There were lots more Common frogs (Rana temporaria). On the River Neath, obtained nice shots of the Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) and the Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinera) feeding. There was also a clump of the rare Tunbrige filmy fern (Hymenophyllum tunbrigense) near a waterfall.
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It is always sad to hear of problems occurring at places you have used for teaching and the outbreak of h5n8 avian influenza at Abbot...