Thursday, 28 June 2007

Where Have All The Snails Gone?

Sometimes an absence is as important as a presence. This place is normally snail (and slug paradise) but searches by 4 adults in Gorseinon and Loughor revealed only 2 snails and 1 slug for a primary school project. There were plenty of woodlice. This month has been very wet and it is a bit colder than usual- does this account for the scarcity of land molluscs?

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Seeing the Changes 32

In spite of heavy rain (serious floods in parts of the UK), the Marsh hawksbeard (Crepis paludosa) and the Orange hawkweed (Hieracium auranticum) came into bloom in Bynea,

Monday, 25 June 2007

Saving Planet Earth

The Sir David Attenborough series started yesterday on BBC1 ( ) with some nice photography and some telling points e.g. the dramatic increase, since DA's birth, in the world population of humans (not his fault) and the need to recognise that conservation of particular animal species means conserving viable habitats. Although I appreciate why it is being done, I am less comfortable with getting 9 'celebrities' to each visit and make a presentation on behalf of endangered 'superstar' animals namely albatross, Siamese crocodile, elephant, gorilla, orang-utan, rhinoceros, tiger, turtle and wolf. As usual, all are vertebrates and two thirds are mammals! I understand how 'flagship' species can generate support for wider environmental initiatives but there is something a bit odd about encouraging viewers to contribute online for particular species (it looks a bit like a talent contest) and I worry than some of the real complexities of the situations might be glossed over (at least in the viewer's minds). Paying some cash towards conserving a particular species might make you feel better but it doesn't make the problems go away. My slightly grumpy response was picked up by the Western Mail (

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Seeing the Changes 31

The Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is blooming in Gorseinon and the Marbled white (Melanargia galathea) and Ringlet (Anthantopus hyperantus) butterflies are active in this area. The Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) butterfly is seen in Loughor. The Large-flowered evening primrose (Oenothera erythrosepaia) is in flower and the Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) has green berries in Bynea. The introduced Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) is in blossom and profuse green fruit of the Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), Hawthorn (Cratageus monogyna) and Elder (Sambucus nigra) are apparent in Loughor and Bynea. Strange fungi appear in my garden in Loughor.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Vroom at the Top

It has been reported,,2106907,00.html that, as part of its preparation for its 85,000 mile and 130 day long Olympic torch carrying ceremony, China will build a £10M tarmac road to the base camp on Mount Everest (or Mount Qomolangma as it is known in the East). This move has been welcomed by local climbing officials as something that will bring more tourists and climbers into this remote spot (they argue that the latter will be able to "save their energy for climbing" from the more easily reached base camp). It is common for people in such locations to see development as producing economic benefits. Environmentalists, however, have predictably expressed concern that this development (the base camp is at 5200 metres) will simply destroy the unique and fragile ecology of this high altitude region. This development is perhaps more worrying given that China has recently overtaken the USA as the major world releaser of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (,,2111124,00.html)!

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Fens and Dunes

Went out on 18th June with Drs Hipkin and Forman's Ecology course to Crymlyn Burrows, Pant y Sais Fen and Kenfig to explore more plants of fixed and mobile dunes as well as another wet place. At the fen we saw Marsh bedstraw (Gallium pallustre), Yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus), Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), Greater spearwort (Ranunculus lingua), Ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Marsh cinquefoil (Potentilla pallustris) and Yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris). We also saw the impressive Royal fern (Osmunda regalis) and Giant dock (Rumex pallustris). On the shore and the mobile dunes of Crymlyn Burrows we viewed Sea sandwort (Honkenya peploides), Prostate orache (Atriplex prostrata), Sea bindweed (Calystegia soldanalia), Large Flowered Evening primrose (Oenothera erythrosepaia), Rest-harrow (Ononis repens), Sea holly (Eryngium maritimum) and Lady's bedstraw (Gallium verum). There was also much Sharp rush (Juncus acutus) and Common clubrush (Scirpus lacustris). The fixed dunes of Kenfig also had Rest-harrow, Sea bindweed, Sea holly and Lady's bedstraw but in addition had Biting stonecrop (Sedum acre), Burnet rose (Rosa pimpinellifolia), Germander speedwell (Veronica chamaedryas), Lesser stitchwort (Stellaria graminea), Meadow thistle (Cirsium dissectum), Viper's bugloss (Echium vulgare), Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor), Kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneralaria), Stinking iris (Iris foetidissima), Marsh helleborine (Epipactis pallustre), Early purple orchid (Orchia masula), Southern marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza pratermissa) and Pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis).

Friday, 15 June 2007

Seeing the Changes 30

The Marsh bedstraw (Gallium pallustre), Great willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum), Yarrow (Achilles millefolium), Perforate St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) and Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris) are flowering in Bynea. The invasive Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) and Redshank (Persicaria maculosa) are blooming in Swansea.

Seeing the Changes 1470

Traveller's joy ( Clematis vitalba ) in flower in Loughor.