Last week a group of CMG members braved the hottest day of the year to walk a circular loop on public footpaths through several lovely meadows just outside the village of Cwmdu.
One of the interesting aspects of the walk was that the meadows looked different to the 4 or 5 times I’ve completed this walk over the last 3 years. No Ox-eye daisies at all this year in the meadow below. 2 years ago, there were lots. There was more uniformity in the earlier meadows with much Whorled Caraway, white, and Sorrel seeds, red, creating the overall scene.
Orchids were still obvious – Common and Heath Spotted, and Richard Pryce was able to point out the differences between these 2 species, with Common Spotted having a more clearly defined 3 part lower lip, below..…compared with Heath Spotted Orchid, below. Both have dark spots on the leaves…
In addition several Butterfly Orchids were found in a number of the meadows, though possibly not as many as in previous years…The other immediately obvious feature of the meadows on this very hot sunny day, was the insect diversity. Ringlet butterfly on Whorled Caraway, below… In particular the number of striking Five-Spot (or Narrow-bordered Five-Spot – they are very difficult to tell apart) Burnet Moths throughout all the first 4 meadows where there were significant quantities of Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil, the moth’s larval food plant…
The first flowers of Devil’s Bit Scabious were also open in these earlier wetter meadows giving additional nectar options for moths and butterflies
One spider clearly found all these moths easy to catch, and was building a considerable larder filled with just Burnet moths…One of the big advantages of having Richard and Kath Pryce, the county’s botanical recorders, accompanying us was not just their ability to identify several different plants which were probably new to many of us, but more their skill in spotting them in the first place. Amongst a sea of flowers and grasses, they seem to be able to home in on perhaps just a single example of a different species. Like Pale Sedge, Carex pallescens, below…
As we meandered back towards Cwmdu, the final 2 meadows proved to be the most florally spectacular, and at last we spotted some Ox-eye Daisies, which in 2015 when I first walked this route were a major feature in several of the meadows.
Also striking was a single orange flower amongst the sea of yellow, white, greens, pinks and browns… This turned out to be a single poppy which we thought had probably found its way into the field from a scattering of meadow mix flower seed. About 100 yards earlier on in the walk we’d passed some gravelly waste ground which had obviously had such a mix of annuals broadcast onto it.
The final fields had the most orchids in them, in various shades of pink and white, and I took this rather special photo of Helen and Kath, with Richard sheltering under umbrellas in a Carmarthenshire meadow at noon, on the longest day – not because of rain, but to shade themselves from the sweltering heat. How long before this happens again?
Thank goodness we’d completed the walk by midday as temperatures and humidity continued to climb. A few of us retired to the excellent historic Cwmdu Inn for a long cold drink, and a delicious home made Welsh cake. Many thanks to everyone for coming, and making it a very interesting and enjoyable walk, and well worth doing again at a different time of the year.
Click here for a map showing the walk at Cwmdu, (walk number 3 on the map), and cars can be parked near the pub.
A reminder that this coming Saturday, July 1st, is National Meadows Day and there are a number of events taking place over the weekend in the county and further afield. Walks at Dinefwr, Carmel, Llandeusant and Rhydcymerau, (See the Events Page for more details on all of these. It would be great if anyone attending one of these could send me a brief report for putting on the website in due course. Thanks.)
I’ve also recently heard from Deborah that there is also another chance to see Carl and Ivy’s recently acquired Grillo 4 wheeled cutter in action…
Many farms, smallholdings and nature reserves have areas that are difficult to manage, with slopes, uneven ground, tight corners and wet, boggy land. Conventional machinery is often too big or heavy and manual equipment too time consuming to use. Livestock, especially traditional breeds, can often do a great job but if these are not available, or less palatable vegetation has got away, cutting is often the first step to getting the land back into suitable condition.
Enter the new Grillo Climber 10 – a 4 x 4 brushcutter mower that knows how to work under these conditions and is suitable for cutting grass, rush, bramble and even small scale scrub. “Tractor” wheels and light weight distribution make the machine suitable for wetter areas too.
The Grillo Climber will be demonstrated by ‘Conservation & Trees’ land managers at Denmark Farm Conservation Centre, Betws Bledrws, on Saturday 1 July, from 1pm to 4pm. PONT, Wales’s not-for-profit grazing organisation, has arranged the demo along with more traditional small scale scything as part of Plantlife’s National Meadows Day.
Event details: http://www.denmarkfarm.org.uk/marvellous-meadows-day/
We’ve just heard that the talk on fungi by Gareth Griffiths at the September meeting can’t now take place, for personal reasons, but we’re delighted that Jacqueline Hartley is coming instead to talk about Dormice, along with the talk by George Peterken, who has written the definitive book on meadows. See the events page for more.
Photo with thanks to Dave Bevan.
Additionally, there are a few of other events taking place in July which might interest readers…
A day’s course on identifying meadow invertebrates
Places are limited – please book by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information, please ring 01597 870301 or 01597 823298.
In addition thanks to Kate and WWWBIC for the following 2 courses to help with plant identification…
WWBIC FREE TRAINING
Plant identification training led by DR TIM RICH
‘Oodles of umbellifers’National Trust Dinefwr, Thursday 6th July 2017
‘The terror of yellow composites’
Carmel village hall and NNR, Friday 7th July 2017 (this is a repeat of last year’s training).
Funding from Wales Biodiversity Partnership has made it possible for us to run these training events. To book, or for more details, please ring
Kate Smith, Senior Species Data Officer,
West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre (WWBIC)
Tel. 01994 241468 or email Kate <email@example.com>
Thanks for reading, and remember I’m always happy to receive any suitable articles or photos to include as blog posts. Please send them to me…
Julian Wormald… firstname.lastname@example.org