Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Wild Flower Extravaganza

Late June and the coast path around Aberdaron is on fire with flowers of all shapes and colour. 

The sweet scent of trampled white clover, squashed thyme and honeysuckle; smells so blatant that even my insensitive nose could enjoy them.

Back home we compared our photos to those in the Wild Flowers concise guide; Tormentil, Kidney Vetch, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Lady’s Bedstraw. We were unanimous in naming many but opinion was divided on quite a few - should have taken the book with us.

My favourite photo was the ladybird on what I think is Corn Chamomile.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Chicken of the Woods - forager's hors d'oeuvre

There are three oaks near the house that host a bracket fungus called Chicken of the Woods. They fruit every other year in June and are unmistakeable, bright orange beacons.

They grow very large, possibly weighing up to a kilo? But if you leave them too long, they dry out and become too tough to eat.

This particular one is on the farmer's land so I asked permission to help myself to some.

I propped my ladder against the trunk, climbed up and snapped off the lowest bracket. Back in the kitchen I sliced it into strips and fried in butter for 10 to 15 minutes with pepper and a smidgeon of salt. Then a squeeze of lemon.

It was delicious and the texture a bit like chicken breast. An excellent forager's hors d'oeuvre. It's the sort of luxury you'd be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for at Harrod's Food Hall!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Redstart Nest

I heard the alarm call of anxious birds and there was Molly, staring at the stone wall below, where hungry young redstarts were waiting for lunch. The nest is several inches inside the wall.

The male is the brightly coloured one on the left.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Bluebells, Cuckoos and Woodpeckers

Bluebells Maentwrog Nature Reserve 1st June 
We take bluebells so much for granted because we have so many - people from other countries in Europe are amazed with our profusion of bluebells.  They arrive around us a bit later than in the valley below and last well into June.

In Welsh they're called Clychau'r Gog - bells of the cuckoo - because they flower about the same time as the first cuckoo arrives. That's another species that used to be taken for granted but now after a significant population decline they are on the Red List of endangered species. But this part of Wales has a healthy population of them.

Another of my favourites at this time of year is the Greater Spotted Woodpecker. Finding a nest is never too difficult. Just walk into the woods and wait until you hear the call and see the distinctive looping flight of the bird with its heavy head. Then close your eyes and listen for the plaintive cries of young woodpecker chicks calling out for food.

Once the youngsters leave the nest we enjoy seeing them come to the bird table for the first time - all gawky and getting used to that massive beak.