Llanelli Naturalists Newsletter - January 2005 - No 71
Kath Pryce

Leader Barney Gill

Members of the Llanelli Naturalists and Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales and their friends, met at Bryntirion, Llanedi, for this meeting which had been promoted as a Wales Biodiversity Week event.  Given the relentless heavy rain during the morning (which continued through the afternoon) the turnout was particularly encouraging with about fifteen members and friends in attendance (at the start I could not help thinking that Pat and Barney’s Billy-goat had a better deal, in his shed with the radio for company!).  However the party proceeded to the hayfield via a track where some sizeable plants of Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis) were observed growing on the field side of the adjacent hedge.  On entering the hayfield the immediate vista was of the standing stone (c.3m tall) amongst a sea of flowers including abundant Whorled Caraway (Carum verticillatum). This is a traditionally managed,  acid to neutral grassland, hay meadow of some 6.5 acres with a more acid Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea) dominated area located along the western side.  

Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor), Rough Hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus) and Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) were particularly abundant in the drier, neutral parts of the meadow and Barney told the party that Yellow Rattle had arrived suddenly some years before, possibly as seed on machinery tyres and that it had increased at the expense of the grassy element of the sward before declining to its present level as a result the current management regime.   Groups of dactylorchids were also frequent in the sward together with Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) and occasional Devil’s-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) and Betony (Stachys officinalis)  and grasses including Quaking-grass (Briza media) and Heath-grass (Danthonia decumbens). Several stands of Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) were just beginning to come into flower.

The rain continued but did not prevent discussion, note-taking, photography, the occasional yawn and the odd grim expression!  However towards the northern end of the field, several plants of Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea) were discovered which Richard Pryce explained was not only the first record for this site but a new record for the 10km square.  A total of eleven plants were seen in flower.  Some of the party went into the tree plantation area, planted about fifteen years ago, on the edge of which was some disturbed ground with numerous plants of Common Hemp-nettle (Galeopsis tetrahit).

Continuing round the field, several plants of Pale Sedge (Carex pallescens) were noted and despite the rain, numerous butterflies and moths were observed including Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) and a Five-spot Burnet moth (Zygaena trifolii ssp. decreta).

On arriving back at Bryntirion, Barney kindly provided very welcome mugs of tea and cake for the party, allowing a chance to dry-out and warm-up!  All agreed that it had been an enjoyable and worthwhile meeting made even more memorable by the rain!   We are fortunate that some land-owners are willing and enthusiastic to manage their holdings using traditional methods, thus conserving the biodiversity of the site, which fully justifies its designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.