Gossip from the Garden

Yesterday we bought five new plants for the garden.  As always, they've been purchased without any planning, and without research.  Back home Bob started digging the far end of the flowerbed, where several plants have failed in the past few years.  I started a new project - I photographed everything that was in flower - and that didn't amount to much.  But every plant has a story, so I'm going to try to tell a few.

First, I will have to download the photos.



Adders and other herpetofauna

Anything I was likely to write today is nowhere near as interesting as this blog post from Brett Lewis.


My few photos of adders and other reptiles were chance sightings our in the field - perhaps why I don't have many pictures of them!

In fact, this female is the only one I have digital photos of.  It was basking out on a sandy track in an military firing range, so had little experience of humans.  When unexpectedly discovered by a group of about eight naturalists, it headed off up a grassy sand dune and out of sight into the scrub. 



For a plant that is often considered to be an obnxious weed, and has a reputation for breaking up paving and concrete, the dandelion (Taraxacum sp) has an amazing cultural and use history.  To top it off, it has a wonderful variety of common names in many countries.

This plant has already cracked the mortar in a bridge parapet that was cleaned and repointed last year.




More rooks

The only positive thing about another day of counting rookeries, is that the car provided considerable protection from the cold wind.

The penultimate rookery we visited provided some limited opportunity for photography.  The sun was fairly low by then, and I found a safe place to stand on a wide roadside verge where the birds were likely to be flying into the sun.  With a shutter speed of 1/1000 and later 1/1600 second, f6.3 and auto ISO (for the technically minded) I managed a few reasonably shots handheld.  Using a tripod just wasn't practical.



The Bolina of Bideford

Another fine day watching the sea at St David's Head - again very few birds, but the sun was shining, visibility was excellent, and it could have been enjoyable if it wasn't for the very cold north-easterly wind.

The tide was well down in Whitesand's Bay as we made our way back to the car park.  The beach was reasonably crowded, what with it being Good Friday, and being sheltered from that wind.  On low spring tides you can see the ribs of a boat sticking out of the sand.  This is the Bolina which was carrying a cargo of iron bar, tin plates and pig iron from Newport, Gwent, to Liverpool,  when she was driven into the bay by a northwesterly gale on 22 February 1833. 

This photo was taken back in January.  The winter storms have moved a lot of sand around, and the ribs are now standing out more than ever. I didn't bother going closer today as there were already plenty of people standing around.

More interesting to me is that close by there are the remains of a petrified forest, again only visiible on low spring tides.  This wood has been there for some 6,000 years, and it is one of several such forests around the Pembrokeshire Coast - others being at Freshwater West, Manorbier, Newport, Newgale and Wiseman's Bridge.

Stumps of birch, fir, hazel and oak trees survive in a remarkable state of preservation - this one looks like oak:

The remains of animals have been found in these deposits including parts of an aurochs, a red deer antler and a brown bear jaw. This whole bit of coast is full of ancient human history with iron-age forts and hut circles, and associations with King Arthur and Saint Patrick, as well as St David of course.