Sunday, 30 May 2010

Seeing the Changes 283

Got some good shots of the landslide last winter on Oxwich point. Near the beach, the Stone bramble (Rubus saxatilis), Biting stonecrop (Sedum acre) and Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) were in flower. There were also Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) and Small blue (Cupido minimus) butterflies, Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaea), Sloe bugs (Dolycoris baccarum), Digger wasps (Ammophila sabulosa and Podalonia hirsuta) and Chrysomela populi beetles. There were lots of melanic European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). In Bynea, Goatsbeard (Tragopogon pratensis), Blue fleabane (Erigeron acer), Sea arrow-grass (Triglochin maritima), Thrift (Armeria maritima) and Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) were all in bloom. Rosy apple aphids (Dysaphis plantaginea) were also in their multiplication phase on plantains. Gastrophysa viridula beetles and Common green shield bugs (Palomena pratensis) were mating. In Loughor, Watercress (Nasturtium officinale), Ground elder (Aegopodium podagraria), French cranesbill (Geranium endressii), Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) and Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) were flowering. The Large red damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), Gorse shield bug (Piezodoris lituratus) and mating ladybirds (Propylea 14-punctata) were also active there.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Seeing the Changes 282

In Blackpill, Mountain pennycress (Thlapsi montanum) was in flower whilst, on the sands in Swansea, Hoary stock (Matthiola incana) was coming into bloom along with Sea beet (Beta vulgaris ssp maritima). In Loughor, Nettles had been occupied by Phyllobius pomaceus beetles and Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) larvae.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Seeing the Changes 281

In Bynea, the Nettle (Urtica diocia) was in flower. In Penclacwydd, Hemlock (Conium maculatum) and Sea plantain (Plantago maritima) had put in appearances. In that location, a female Gastrophysa viridula beetle waited on the underside of a Dock. In Loughor, a Lily beetle (Lilioceris lillii) flew.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Seeing the Changes 280

At a very hot NWCW, the Yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus) was prominent and the Southern marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa) had made an early appearance. There was also lots of Odonata activity, with Aeshna cyanea and the 4-spotted chaser (Libella quadrimaculata) flitting about. The small but frisky Common blue damselflies (Enallagma cyathigerum) had started to mate.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Pay for Nature?

There is an interesting proposal from the UN's Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity project ( It is argued that the costs resulting from losses of natural organisms that 'do jobs' for we humans (e.g. fertilise 'our' plants, recycle materials and control flood waters) are a magnitude greater than the costs involved in attempting to conserve them. It is consequently argued that preventing extinctions may be even more important than curtailing global warming (in a financial sense, assuming we are still here). All this may well be true but it does seem slightly dodgy that these things have to be converted into pounds, euros and dollars before they interest politicians and the voters. I have no 'beef' with the idea, however, that destructive agencies should be taxed at a rate commensurate with the environmental damage they cause.

In the Beginning...?

News that Vietnam war veteran turned geneticist Craig Venter has created 'artificial life' with a 'water-mark' or trademark (?) in the concocted DNA sequence before it 'takes over' the cell into which it is introduced has caused quite a stir ( There is much debate about the ethics of making a new form of goat mastitis bacillum, especially as Venter seems firmly rooted in a profit-making role (with one idea of using artificial organisms to remove 'excessive' carbon dioxide from the atmosphere). It is also argued that his discoveries could boost terrorists wishing to make a low cost agent of destruction (as if there aren't enough naturally-occurring potential agents). There are clearly dangers in this technology (which, although remarkable, seems relatively simple) but that would be true of many such developments and there is no chance of getting this 'genie back into the bottle'.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Seeing the Changes 279

Common comfrey (Symphytum officinale), American willowherb (Epilobium adenocaulon) and Herb bennet (Geum urbanum) were in bloom in Loughor. There was lots of 7- spot ladybird (Coccinella 7-punctata) activity and the first appearance of Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) in Bynea. The seal under Loughor bridge has taken to resting on the stumps of the wooden piles of the previous bridge. In Llangennith, Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor) and Bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) were in flower. There were also Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) butterflies and the Six-spot burnet moth (Zygaena filipendulae) caterpillars were pupating on the wire around the dunes. There were also bush cricket nymphs, a hoverfly (Xanthogramma pedissequum) and a shield bug (Verlusea rhombea). Also spotted Whirligig beetles (Gyrinus natator) and an eel (Anguilla anguilla) in the stream. There was also a very impressive thrush 'anvil' and lots of activity by Meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis) and Whitethroat (Sylvia communis).

Where's the Beef?

  Industry 'experts' are claiming that the 'use-by dates' on red meat should be extended (