The field season this year has been very rewarding with spring meetings at Horeb led by Ian Morgan, Mynydd Pembrey with Denys Williams and Stradey Woods where we heard Garden Warblers and saw the winter damage to the Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis). In June we paid a visit to the Allt Rhyd-y-groes National Nature Reserve led by Ray Woods of the Nature Conservancy Council. Typically the Welsh weather was at its worst, but the Sessile Oakwoods, for which the Cambrian Mountains are so noted, were at their best. In a small hayfield we were shown Greater Butterfly Orchids (Platanthera chlorantha) together with a number of other grassland species not often seen on today’s herbicide-treated farms. It was certainly well worth the soaking that we all got.
It was just as well that only a few members attended the Towyn Burrows meeting in August, as after a very pleasant walk in glorious sunshine, having observed acres of Sea Lavender (Limonium spp.) and the newly fanned dunes at Towyn Point, yours truly got the party lost. Well not exactly lost, just the wrong side of a thick and impenetrable Buckthorn barrier - we could see the cars not 100 yards away but despite numerous attempts to go through the thorn-bushes we had to retrace our steps, adding an extra hour to an already long six-hour marathon. There were many murmurings among the ranks of, “Sack the Sec.” and, “Send him back for a machete” But there was some recompense when we came across a very attractive flowering stand of Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis) which we would not have seen had we taken a less devious route.
A working party was organised in May to try to alleviate some of the damage done to the Stradey Woods’ Wild Service Tree last winter, referred to above. The largest tree of the group of three had fallen over the cliff, probably due to gales and the weight of snow. The object of the working party was to fence off the corner of the pasture where suckers from the trees had been appearing for a number of years but had been grazed—off by the farmer’s cattle. Apart from disturbing a nest of bees, with the expected consequences, and nearly losing one or two members over the cliff when trying to tension the wire, the job was completed successfully. It remains to be seen whether tic suckers will now grow up to eventually replace the ailing trees on the cliff edge.
All meetings have produced additional records for the Carmarthenshire Flora, a project that has been started this season with a number of Naturalists’ members participating, but will probably take many years to complete. The coastal part at the county is fairly well covered, although there are many gaps, but I intend next year to hold a meeting or two purely for recording in completely unworked areas.
I have not received any replies to my request in the last Newsletter for information of any church or chapel yards which appear to support a diverse flora. Perhaps all the town graveyards are tended like lawns but some that I have visited in the less urban areas have been very rewarding. One, near Glanamman, was particularly rich with an abundance of Greater Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis), orchids, and all the plants you would expect to find in undisturbed and unfertilized grassland. The chapel was dated 1773 but there was about one third of the area still unoccupied by graves, resulting in perhaps half an acre of species-rich grassland. Also the stone walls and adjacent woodland and wet flushes produced many additional plants..
Finally, any of you wanting to brush up on your knowledge of local natural history have an opportunity to do so this autumn as the Workers Education Association have asked the LIanelli Naturalists to run a course of six lectures on the “Natural History of Carmarthenshire”. The lectures are weekly on Monday nights starting on October 4th at the L.E.A. Centre in John Street, and are open to any interested person. Speakers will be Dr. Philip Jones, Mr. Brian Stringer and myself and the subjects to be covered will include geological, faunal and floral topics.