Llanelli Naturalists Newsletter - No. 74 - July 2008
Chris John

Leader: Simeon Jones

Eleven people participated in the ‘walk’, led by Simeon.  Leaving the car park and walking towards the land-end of Pembrey Harbour we observed several species of the commonly found variety on either side of the tarmaced cycleway; these included characteristic duneland plants such as Bird’s-foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus, Common Vetch Vicia sativa, Thyme-leaved Speedwell Veronica serpyllifolia, Kidney Vetch Anthyllys vulneraria, Lamb’s Lettuce Valerianella locusta and Hedgerow Crane’s-bill Geranium pyrenaicum. The group continued from the harbour, skirting between saltmarsh and dune system. Sea Sandwort Honckenya peploides was prevalent on the strand-line with Sea Plantain Plantago maritima, Common Sea Lavender Limonium vulgare, English Scurvy-grass Cochlearia anglica and Sea Purslane Atriplex portulacoides growing on the saltmarsh. From here we observed a Shelduck, which may have been nesting on Pembrey Saltings.  Here also I mentioned to the group that in my childhood I used to swim in the channel in front of us. I readily remembered how red the colour of the water was, from discharge flowing out of the former Royal Ordnance Factory.  Their job latterly was to dismantle the explosives, bombs, etc,.

Sea Sandwort growing on the sandy strandline below the cycleway, south of the dunes. Photo Barney GillWe continued by climbing up the steps from the strand and onto the cycle path, where more observations of flowering plants were made, including Hairy Rock-cress Arabis hirsuta, a single Green-winged Orchid Orchis morio, violet Dune Pansies Viola tricolor subsp. curtisii and much more Bird’s-foot Trefoil and Kidney Vetch.  The last named is the food plant of the Small Blue butterfly, of which several were observed, along with several Common Blues. Small Whites, Orange Tips and Small Tortoiseshells.

We climbed up the sand dunes and into the dune system where the Green-winged Orchids came into their own; several hundred were observed, some were already going over! – otherwise the flowers to be seen included all those we had seen earlier, but in a far greater quantity especially Dune Pansies, Kidney Vetch and Bird’s-foot Trefoil.  Of significant interest here, was noted the browning of several heads of Goat’s Beard or ‘Jack Go to Bed at Noon’.  The flower is vulnerable to attack by the fungus Ustilago thagopogi, which reduces the flower head to a mass of black powder.

Other dune plants to be seen, some not in flower yet, were Yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor, Common Valerian Valeriana officinalis, Lady’s Bedstraw Galium verum, Wild Carrot Daucus carota, Burnet Rose Rosa pimpinellifolia, Tansy Tanacetum vulgare, a white form of Common Milkwort Polygala vulgaris and Creeping Willow Salix repens. Amongst these plants butterflies like the Small Blue and Small White were flitting along.

Birds noted included Common Whitethroat, Linnet and surprisingly, both to it and us, a Pheasant.

We continued back to the car park, now returning along the cycleway when we saw Restharrow Ononis repens and Common Stork’s-bill Erodium cicutarium, as well as a stand of Wild Mignonette Reseda lutea.  What also caught our eyes was a bush of Fennel Foeniculum vulgare who’s heady aroma concluded the day at approximately 5 o’clock.  A fine, warm day matched by a fine walk.