What a pleasure to be working with Enfys Ecology and the Woodland Trust on a conservation project – makes a change from the usual development schemes! This was part 2 of a survey which my colleague Lucia Ruffino and I started last year. The first part was mostly grassland with some interesting boggy bits, the highlight for me being finding white beak-sedge which I hadn’t seen in forever. This year’s part was much bigger, 11 days survey for both of us, and covered a swathe of land from Trawsfynydd Lake up the hills behind to an altitude of about 300m.
We split our work based on ability and inclination – Lucia up the rocky hills where the more interesting bryophytes were expected to be found, and me in the boggy bits below which were dominated by purple moor-grass and thus potentially less interesting, but with more ground needing to be covered.
After the best part of three weeks on site, I can truly say I have now mastered the art of moving through tussocky purple moor-grass – insofar as that’s possible. Nobody is immune from falling over in this environment, however, and there were the inevitable moments when I ended up knee deep in water instead of standing on dry land, or up to my eyes in bog myrtle instead of flowing elegantly and efficiently through the landscape, as all us ecologists aim for (!)
There were navigational fails, too, as field boundaries are few and far between in this rough hill land, not all of the rocky outcrops are on the OS map and none of the streams/ ditches are seemingly where they are supposed to be. Thank goodness for GPS and aerial photos which really did make life so much easier. I feel happy not to have been surveying this site back in the late 90s when all we had to go on was blown-up photocopies of the OS map, a pencil and our navigational instincts. Old school I may be, but I’m not afraid to use technology where it helps me.
The first week of this survey brought very warm, very humid overcast weather and thunderstorms, which was a bit unnerving to say the least when we were out in the open an hour’s walk from the car. The upside, though, was the extraordinary number of reptile sightings that week – literally dozens of common lizards every day. We even saw four adders between the two of us, which was pretty amazing considering they are usually so elusive – a fifth adder turned up on a later visit. It was well worth the power-shower hot rain to see these beautiful animals 🙂
I haven’t any pictures of the adders because I was too busy looking at them to faff about taking photos, so here instead is a picture of some nice aquatic vegetation with Hypericum elodes, which was a feature of the small streams throughout the site.