Thursday, 28 June 2018

Of Haymaking and other matters

The grass, the yellow rattle and the pignut are tall and I suspect that the meadows will soon be mown for hay-making. 'One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow' is an odd sort of tautology, for the word 'meadow' comes from the Old English moedwe, and this is in turn related to the word mawan - to mow. Besides the three plants mentioned, Matt's meadows contain sorrel, hairy wood-rush, three types of thistle (Marsh, Spear and Creeping), meadow buttercups, hogweed, betony, common bird's-foot trefoil, red and white clover, ragged robin and orchids - and no doubt many more that I've overlooked. Meadow buttercups are poisonous and usually avoided by stock, but once dried they are harmless and safe in hay*. The same is presumably true of sorrel, Rumex acetosa with their distinctive leaves. The name Rumex is Latin, being a spear-shaped javelin used by the Romans; acetosa is derived from the old name for vinegar, thus we have the sharp-tasting spear-shaped leaf.

Traditional meadows would once have been far richer in species but are now as rare as hens' teeth and need to be cherished. Surely this rich blend of herbs must make the resultant hay more nutritious than that made simply from rye grass. All flesh is grass we are told (Isaiah XL, vi) but this is not to be taken literally. Better perhaps: 'All flesh is a rich blend of monocotyledons and dicotyledons, of herbs and shrubs with, perhaps, the occasional pteridophyte.' On second thoughts perhaps not; it doesn't have quite the same ring. And how sad that the modern garden lawn, often consisting of one grass species and marinated in chemicals, cannot be given the freedom to blaze with like a mini-meadow, with the colours of clovers, speedwells, buttercups, self-heal and golden dandelions. Oh, I forgot: they are weeds.

Ringlet butterflies are regular visitors to thistles.  Here on Creeping Thistle,
Foxhill Farm. 28 June, 2018
Regarding the thistles, I'll be keeping a close eye on them for the next few weeks as they should receive hordes of insects. The Creeping Thistle, Cirsium arvense, is a noxious weed and its attractiveness to insects does little to appease farmers plagued by this plant. Spear Thistle, Cirsium vulgare, is less of a problem but is nevertheless unwelcome to farmers. Their starfish rosettes are armed with vicious thorns and I have known them to penetrated thin-soled shoes. It is not yet in flower but will only require another week or so for its rather handsome capitula to open.
Spear thistles should be displaying their purple flowers in a week or so.
Foxhill Farm. 28 June, 2018

The three species I have mentioned so far are in the genus Cirsium but there may be Welted Thistles, Carduus acanthoides awaiting discovery. Whatever the genus they will eventually produce masses of seeds, provender for birds such as the Goldfinch. The Latin name for the Goldfinch is Carduelis carduelis, the name being derived from these Carduus thistles. Musk Thistle, Carduus nutans, I have seen growing in an abandoned railway cutting near to Woodford Halse, but not around Badby. However, George Baker (1781-1851) reported the species from Daventry so it may yet occur.

Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium,  will be mown to become part of the crop but there will have been time for beetles to congregate on their flowers. Already hordes of a common species of red soldier beetle, Rhagonycha fulva, are gathering on the creamy umbels.

The black tips to the wing cases help to identify Rhagonycha fulva.
Foxhill Farm. 28 June, 2018
They all appear to mature at the same time, maximising their chances of finding a mate. I actually saw two fall to the ground, still in copula.

For some unfathomable reason Rhagonycha fulva is popularly known as
the Hogweed Bonking Beetle. Foxhill Farm. 28 June, 2018

As I say, all this frolicking should be over by the time haymaking gets under way. July seems to be a propitious time:

                                        Cut thistles in May
                                        They grow in a day
                                        Cut them in June
                                        That is too soon;
                                        Cut them in July
                                        Then they will die.

The trouble is, as far as Creeping Thistles are concerned - they don't!



* It is said that mediaeval beggars would squeeze buttercup sap on to their skin to induce blistering and so arouse the sympathy of passers-by.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Bits and bobs around Byfield

A report today confirmed what many of us have long suspected: an article in Proceedings of the Royal Society B showed clear evidence that bumblebees are finding urban situations more favourable than the open countryside, with a greater range of pollen and nectar sources available. This came to mind as I strolled through the village of Byfield earlier today. Sure enough, foxgloves, scabious, marigolds and a range of other garden plants were claiming the attention of bees.
To an old stone wall in Church Street clung mats of English Stonecrop, Sedum anglicum. Not exciting in itself for this is a widespread and common species, given a suitable habitat.
English stonecrop on a wall in Church Street, Byfield.
27 June, 2018
But, holding a cupped hand beneath, I gave the plant a sharp tap and out tumbled a specimen of the Varied Carpet Beetle, Anthrenus verbasci. This is well-known as a pest of domestic carpets but here it was in its natural habitat, probably in search of pollen. After mating it may seek out birds' nests in which to lay its eggs. I photographed this tiny (2 mm long) insect but the results were poor and you'll just have to take my word for its presence.
I pushed on to the churchyard where the leaves of Lesser Burdock, Arctium minus, were patterned with the mines of the agromyzid fly, Chromatomyia syngenesiae.
The mazy leaf mines created by the larvae of an agromyzid fly.
Byfield village churchyard. 27 June, 2018
A little further on and the umbels of Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium, were being visited by an interesting bee-mimic, Cheilosia illustrata. This is a species of hoverfly (and therefore only has two wings instead of four) with, unusually for the genus, dark patches on its wings. It is particularly associated with hogweed flowers and I only occasionally find it elsewhere. By now, to be honest, I had entered the village pocket park, not exactly an urban habitat. There were bumble bees about but the nectar sources of the village gardens had now largely dried up with hogweed and brambles helping to compensate.

No, not a bee but a hoverfly, Cheilosia illustrata, on Hogweed.
Byfield Pocket Park. 27 June, 2018

The most obvious target for insects was the hogweed and fifty years ago enormous numbers of flies, bees and beetles would have been there with some, particularly the beetles, using the flowers as a dual purpose nectar source cum trysting ground. (Fancy a visit to the hogweed darlin'? Nudge nudge, wink wink!)
A Speckled Wood enjoys the warm sunshine as it basks on a bramble leaf.
Byfield Pocket Park, 27 June, 2018
My own garden has attracted some butterflies, admittedly only commonplace species such as Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock. Here in the pocket park I saw only Speckled Wood, Pararge aegeria, although, to be fair, I was only there for a few minutes. The villagers have worked hard, and continue to work hard, on this refuge and it is far richer in species than the surrounding fields where, perhaps significantly, the farmer cultivates the land as closely as possible to the margins, leaving nothing for potential pollinators of his rapeseed crops. We can't expect all land to match the astounding Knebb Farm*, but landowners should regard themselves as stewards, in the privileged position of now being able to reverse decades of destruction. Thank God for those who are joining in the fightback for our wildlife.

* This astonishing farm has been the subject of many wildlife articles and has received much television coverage. Isabella Tree's book, Wilding: the return of Nature to a British Farm makes fascinating reading.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Killingly hot!

On a swelteringly (OE sweltan: to die) hot day I made another trip to Foxhill Farm but fortunately avoided death.
All the land is now thoroughly dry but I made my way to an area of pasture which would normally be damp to see how plants were coping. Ragged Robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi, is very much a plant of moist meadows and was reaching the end of its season anyway, but a few flowers have survived. The name could be associated with the traditional play of Robin and Marion, played for some reason at Pentecost. The actor representing Robin would always wear ragged clothes, perhaps seeing Robin as a scruffy but warm-hearted rogue. Sometimes a white-flowered form will occur and a Mr Stonehouse told of: Wild William with an elegant whitish flower, by a ditch in the long lane between Daventry and Dovebridge. (Quoted by William How in his Phytologia Britannica of 1650.)  I have so far been unable to trace 'Dovebridge'.

Ragged Robin at Foxhill Farm, Badby. 25 June, 2018
With the Ragged Robin grew the biennial Marsh Thistle, Cirsium palustre. It is a tall, slender plant with distinctive, very spiny stems and typically purple flowers (Star-pointed Thistle with its ruddy flowers, as John Clare put it) but this species too is occasionally found with white flowers.
Marsh Thistle tends to be a tall, slender plant. Foxhill Farm, Badby.
25 June, 2018
Whatever the flower colour they are, like all thistles, very popular with insects and today Meadow Brown butterflies, Maniola jurtina, were busy taking nectar. These were overwhelmingly the commonest butterfly today with just a few Ringlets and Skippers to provide variety. 
Meadow Brown on Marsh Thistle. Foxhill Farm, Badby.
25 June, 2018
In a recent blog I discussed the matter of plant rusts and another example caught my attention today. It was Rose Rust, Phragmidium tuberculatum and was surrounding a leaf axil. Commonly it attacks the ripening hips and is sorely vexing for some gardeners.

Rose Rust on a hedgerow plant at Foxhill Farm, Badby.
25 June, 2018
The total number if invertebrates I have recorded for Foxhill Farm currently stands at 261 but a number of specimens still require identification. I suppose this figure is roughly where I would expect to be at this time of the year.

Tony White:

Saturday, 23 June 2018


Many plants are attacked by a range of diseases, among which rusts are among the most noticeable. Frequently these rusts show up as crusts - often yellow or orange - or blisters.
Hollyhock rust affecting plant in garden. Hartwell, Northants.
24 June, 2018

Most gardeners are familiar with the Hollyhock Rust, Puccinea malvacearum, and the Snapdragon Rust, Puccinea antirrhini and, on groundsel, Coleosporium tussilaginis.

Groundsel showing, on the right, the rust Coleosporium tussilaginis.
Daventry town centre. 23 June, 2018

Two days ago I encountered another example, this one affecting hawthorn in a rather bizarre manner.
Gymnosporangium confusum is one of the many species which apparently requires an alternate host, in this case an introduced species of juniper, Juniperus sabina. This is a popular garden plant but for this to be involved seems a little unlikely. However, there is evidence that this rust may not need the alternating host.

As my photograph shows, the fungus forms a sort of gall and throws out a number of elongated tentacle-like structures - aecia - making the gall very distinctive.
Gymnosporangium confusum on hawthorn. Foxhill Farm, Badby, Northants.
21 June, 2018
Maps produced by the National Biological Network suggest that this species is largely confined to the west of Britain and this record is about as far east as it gets. Having said that, these rusts are not well recorded and the apparent absence of this species from eastern England may not reflect the true situation.

A second example from an adjacent bush
A related species is the European Pear Rust, Gymnosporangium sabinae, which has attacked our pears is the back garden. We grow 'Conference, and 'Concorde' but only the former has been infected. It looks like producing very few fruits this year.

The 'Conference' pear has had quite a severe attack of pear rust.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 22 June, 2018
Our aquilegias are under attack of a different form, an insect rather than a fungus being the culprit. Their leaves have large discoloured blotches caused by the larvae of a fly, Phytomyza aquilegiae. It is unfortunately very common but, other than being rather unsightly, it seems to cause little damage.
Our aquilegias have been attacked by Phytomyza aquilegiae.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 22 June, 2018
Is it my imagination or is this pest on the increase?

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Below Newnham Windmill

To the west of Newnham windmill the ground drops away steeply, with clumps of woodland clinging to the slopes. To the north lie hay meadows, upon which I've been concentrating recently.
The grass is now knee-deep despite large quantities of Yellow Rattle theoretically reducing their vigour with their semi-parasitic mode of existence. As mentioned in a previous blog, there is a considerable amount of Pignut, Conopodium majus, and with this is associated the Chimney Sweeper Moth, Odezia atrata, for which Pignut is the larval food-plant. It is not the most exciting of moths, with its drab grey-black wings tipped with white but I was pleased to see it because, although it is still reasonable common, its food-plant has diminished in range - and with it, this moth.
The Chimney Sweeper is associated with Pignut.
Foxhill Farm, Badby. 18 June, 2018
The meadow plants include Common Sorrel, Rumex acetosa. This relative of dock plants is poisonous to stock in large quantities due to the presence of oxalic acids but when dried for hay the toxicity is presumably reduced or disappears. Here and there were bright red-purple leaves but I have not yet established the cause of this. A moth creates a similar effect but of this there was no sign.
This reddening of a sorrel leaf could be down to a virus.
Foxhill Farm. 18 June, 2018
However I did recognise the agent causing galling on the edge of hawthorn leaves in the hedgerow. This is the work of a mite, Phyllocoptes goniothorax, and is a widespread but apparently harmless affliction. Other species of Phyllocoptes affect violets, ash trees, apples, hazel and so on.
The mite, Phyllocoptes goniothorax, causes a roll-like gall on hawthorn.
Foxhill Farm, Badby, Northants. 18 June, 2018
The most interesting finding of today's visit was a specimen of the Band-eyed Brown Horsefly, Tabanus bromius. There are larger species of Tabanus, with Tabanus bovinus reaching a length of almost an inch, but I was well-pleased with this find. It is widespread in southern England but is less common in Northamptonshire.

Not a colourful insect but the Band-eyed Brown Horsefly is quite an
impressive fly. Foxhill Farm, 18 June, 2018
This brings the number of invertebrates recorded on Foxhill Farm this year to 249 but this total should more than double eventually.

Monday, 18 June 2018

More garden goodies

Of course, what constitutes a 'garden goody' varies from person to person. Many people are fond of hydrangeas; I have no time for them. Bob Flowerdew admits to hating Sedum spectabile, but when I asked him why, he admitted there was no logical reason.
I am fond of neat and colourful rock garden plants (many so-called alpines are nothing of the sort and 'rock garden plants' is a conveniently all-embracing term).
The thymes in our front garden are spreading with such enthusiasm that I'll have to deal with them come next muck-spreading but the bees - I counted fourteen of them on a biggish patch recently - are so fond of them that the flowers are safe for the moment.

Thymes have developed to take a dominant position in our front garden.
15 July, 2018
Another neat little plant (which can also spread alarmingly) is the dainty bellflower, Campanula cochleariifolia. Its tubby little bells have earned this plant, native to the mountains of south-central Europe, the name of Fairies Thimbles.
Campanula cochlearifolia receives occasional visits from bees.
Our fron garden. 15 July, 2018

At the other end of the scale are the Eremurus species, aka Foxtail Lilies. They too are mountain plants but one would hesitate to call them alpines. Ranging from Turkey to China they seem to occupy stony soil but some species can reach a height of ten feet, so presumably the soil needs to be nutrient rich. Our specimen is currently six feet tall but may yet grow a little. It is probably Eremurus bungii or one of its hybrids but the label has gone astray. Its colour is bright orange and the photograph fails to do it justice.
Foxtail Lilies can be a dramatic feature of a garden
border. 14 June, 2018
Foxtail Lilies have only recently gained popularity, perhaps because their reputation for being tricky is only now being overcome.
I also grow an old favourite, Heliotrope, Heliotropium arborescens. It is a member of the Borage family and is toxic - if you go around munching mouthfuls! But it is its fragrance rather than its toxicity which make this tender annual so desirable. As with many plants such as honeysuckle, the fragrance becomes intense as evening approaches and, unsurprisingly, it receives many visits from moths (or it used to a few decades back). It has nothing whatever to do with the Winter Heliotrope, a member of the Daisy Family, other than having a rich fragrance. 
Heliotrope is an old favourite. Our garden at Stefen Hill, Daventry.
15 June, 2018
Another old favourite is the rose 'Variegata di Bologna'. Peter Beales, the famous rosarian, once described the colour of the petals as 'blackcurrant jam stirred into semolina'. It has gorgeous flowers with a heavy, old-rose scent but my specimen isn't performing as well as it should. It is almost certainly my own fault because I am growing it in a pot and have not fed it sufficiently.
'Variegata di Bologna' in our back garden. 14 June, 2017

Incidentally I recently visited a garden in Weedon where 'Ferdinand Pichard' was being grown. Spot the difference!

'Ferdinand Pichard' in a Weedon garden. 16 June, 2018
In truth there are many, perhaps hundreds, of these striped roses, but few become established in the catalogues.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Our allotment: the plot thickens

After a slow start, marred by a late frost, things are coming along nicely.
The courgette plants have been in flower for a couple of weeks and the fruits are looking promising. We have three plants and they should be adequate for our frugal needs.
Three courgette plants should suffice. 16 June, 2018
The potatoes are now in flower too and we'll be applying plenty of water, especially as we have been going through a rather dry spell. We are only growing first earlies but we'll plant another dozen tubers in a week or so. I've put a picture in for the thousands of my readers who have never seen a tater/spud/pratie.
Spuds - what else can I say?
The Phacelias, Phacelia tanacetifolia, are now in full bloom and are attracting large numbers of bees. They have curious, curling inflorescences in the form of a cyme, the whole effect leading to the plant's other common name of fiddleneck.
Phacelia in flower. Bumble bees are constantly visiting the flowers.
16 June, 2018
But the thing I keep and eye open for is insect visitors. Many, such as the bees, are beneficial but pest species are in many ways of more interest. My neighbouring plot holder, Larry, grows asparagus and the crop is currently suffering a mild infestation of Asparagus Beetle, Crioceris asparagi. It is an undeniably attractive beetle, but that fails to melt the hearts of vegetable growers. The specimen shown has but seconds to live.
On death row. An Asparagus Beetle about to given the
coup-de-grace by a neighbour, Larry. 16 June, 201
A number of Cinnabar Moths, Tyria jacobaeae, have been fluttering around over recent days. They don't seem to be having much luck in finding a food plant - groundsel or ragwort - on which to lay their eggs as most plot holders grub up these weeds ruthlessly. This example is forlornly exploring a raspberry leaf. This species must count as a 'gardener's friend'.
Cinnabar, one of the brightly-coloured, day-flying moths.
16 June, 2018
Going by its name of Zygaena filipendulae,  one might assume that the Six-spot Burnet Moth feeds on plant of the Meadowsweet genus, Filipendula, but in fact it consumes Bird's-foot Trefoil, a member of the clover family.

Quite closely related to the Cinnabar moth are the burnets - but which
one is this? 16 June, 2018

Here its larva is climbing the side of a polythene cloche in search of somewhere to pupate. I will not send this record off to the Wildlife Trust as there is just a chance that it is a Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet, Zygaena lonicerae. The larvae are very similar and this is not an area in which I claim any expertise.

Never a dull moment on an allotment!



Friday, 15 June 2018

An evening stroll

After our few days on the Lleyn Peninsula it was back to normality with a visit to Matt Moser's land. The only difference was that I made it an evening visit. Chris dropped me off at a convenient point and I walked the last four hundred yards to my destination.
I was delighted to note, at the roadside, a couple of specimens of Burnet Rose, Rosa pimpinellifolia. Although it reasonably common in many parts of Britain this is certainly not the case in Northamptonshire. George Druce (Ref 1) described it as 'very rare', and Gent and Wilson (Ref 2) used the same words.
Burnet Rose beside the Daventry-Newnham Road. 14 June, 2018
Interestingly Druce, using its alternative name of Rosa spinosissima, stated that it occurred at the foot of the Burrow (sic) Hill in Daventry...and... Burnt Walls, Daventry.
With its white flowers and neat foliage it occasionally finds a place in gardens.
Nothing as remarkable was found when I reached Foxhill Farm although a handful of orchids was growing in the first meadow (Field 5411).
A few flowers of Common Spotted Orchid grew in a hay meadow.
Foxhill Farm, 14 June, 2018
They were Common Spotted Orchids, Dactylorhiza fuchsii, our commonest species. Checking Druce again I find that he described it (under Orchis fuchsii) as 'rather common and widely distributed'. John Clare was inevitably familiar with it:

                                      Gaping Cuckoo flowers with spotted leaves
                                      Seems blushing of the singing it has heard.

                                                                      Clare's Rural Muse.

At field margins the Hedge Woundwort is now blooming. With its bizarrely marked flowers it could perhaps find a place in the garden but for the foul smell of its leaves when brushed against.
The foul-smelling Hedge Woundwort is now in flower.
Foxhill Farm, Badby. 14 June, 2018

A few yards away (sorry, I'm not consistently metric) grew Germander Speedwell, Veronica chamaedrys. It bore the hairy galls of Jaapiella veronica, a cecidomyid fly. This is a very widespread insect and lucky is the colony of speedwell that escapes its attention.

Jaapiella veronicae induces the development of galls, usually on
Germander Speedwell. Foxhill Farm, 14 June, 2018
Hawthorn leaves can be affected by a number of galls. Dysaphis crataegi is an aphid causing red bulges, often quite large, and is very common. This aphid belongs to a very complex group and my identification is rather tentative.

The aphid Dysaphis crataegi causes upward-bulging, reddish galls.
Foxhill Farm, 14 June, 2018
Annoyingly a lovely example of the Wasp Beetle, Clytus arietis, was on a hop leaf but, before I could bring my camera into action it dropped to the ground and was lost. But this didn't spoil what was a rather interesting hour of recording.


1. Druce, George Claridge (1930) The Flora of Northamptonshire

2. Gent, G and Wilson, R (2012) The Flora of Northamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Lleyn Peninsula: Part 2 - Whistling Sands

The few days we had on the Lleyn Peninsula gave us time to do a spot of exploration, with visits to Abersoch and Aberdaron.

Abersoch is quite an up-market resort in terms of classy shops and, had the weather turned against us, we would probably have spent more time there. As it was we lingered for a couple of hours, having lunch and exploring the dunes. These were home to some interesting plants including Pyramidal Orchids, Anacamptis pyramidalis. This lovely flower has been chosen as the County Flower of the Isle of Wight. We hope to be visiting Wight in two or three weeks where, hopefully, I'll take a decent photograph.
Pyramidal Orchid in the dunes at Abersoch. 10 June, 2018
Charles Darwin, speaking of this flower, remarked on its strangely fuzzy nature when... [Ed: Shut up: you took a rotten photograph on the wrong lens setting. End of!]
Sea Holly, Eryngium maritimum, was not yet in flower, but was nevertheless unmistakeable. When full-grown it is a rather sprawling plant but the larger rock garden could probably accommodate it.
Sea Holly was not yet in flower. Abersoch, 10 June, 2018
Also present was the pretty Restharrow, Ononis repens. As well as growing on dunes this will flourish on light, sandy agricultural land. Its tough, spreading stems and roots would once 'arrest' a simple harrow, hence the common name.
Also near the western end of the Lleyn Peninsula is Porthor beach, known for its strange 'whistling' sands. Chris and I attempted, by shuffling through the dry sand, to conjure up the whistling. Chris could hear it but I, with my now-defective hearing, could not.

I examined a handful of the sand. It is very fine and appears to be composed largely of quartz particles. These apparently rub against each other to produce the odd sound, first remarked upon in the year 1810 by one Edmund Hyde Hall.
An information board provided some background material. Porthor Beach.
11 June, 2018
Once a small but busy port, Porthor was almost deserted on our visit, despite the lovely weather. Whistling sands or not, it is a lovely bay and dolphins are occasionally seen off shore.
The remote Porthor beach was all but deserted. 11 June, 2018
We arrived back at our cottage to find the cliff tops still bathed in sunshine. Kidney Vetch, Anthyllis vulneraria, was prolific in the sward. Though common on the cliff tops it is now not often seen in Northamptonshire, and certainly not in the Daventry area.
Kidney Vetch was an important component of the cliff-top sward.
Porthdinallaen, 10 June, 2018
Plants at Porthdinallaen were attracting numerous insects including Six-spot Burnet Moths, Zygaena filipendulae. Moths are largely night-flying or at least crepuscular; they are also regarded as being dull. Burnets certainly kick this idea into touch, being diurnal (day-flying) and brightly coloured.

Six-spot Burnets were frequent on Kidney Vetcht. 10 June, 2018
Would I return to this part of the world? I could be persuaded without difficulty, but would have to accept that future visits would probably not be blessed with the wonderful conditions that Chris and I enjoyed.

Lleyn Peninsula: part 1

We have all experienced the struggle to stifle a yawn when being shown a selection of holiday snaps:

    'Aunt Ada with a candy floss.'
    'Our Emily paddling.'
    'This is your Uncle Fred being buried in the sand by little Jemima.'  
    'This is uncle Fred after first aid treatment for sunburn.' (We honestly didn't mean to   forget him.)  
You know the sort of thing. Well, there will be nothing like that but, if you're doubtful, give this blog a miss.

Chris and I spent a few days in north-west Wales on the Lleyn peninsula or, to be more precise, a cottage in Porthdinallaen near the village of Morfa Nefyn. The weather was glorious, the coastline spectacular and the wild flowers prolific.

Looking down on 'our' bay. We were in the white cottage with buildings
on either side. The heat haze is obvious.  8 June, 2018
The cliffs on either side were full of interest. Sand Martins were present in large numbers where there was soft material for tunnelling. From time to time the population of these migratory birds crashes as a result of drought in their African wintering grounds but certainly they seemed to doing well here and the group of tunnels shown in the pictures was only one of several noted.

The tunnels of Sand Martins formed several groups along the cliffs near
our cottage. 8 June, 2018
Orchids abounded. Most were Common Spotted Orchids, Dactylorhiza fuchsii, mostly in their usual pink-flowered form, with purple blotches on the leaves.
Common Spotted Orchids were present in their hundreds around
Porthdinallaen. 9 June, 2018
Here and there the very attractive white-flowered form occurred and these tended to have unspotted leaves. They were most frequent near to the remote Porthor Bay.

The Common Spotted Orchids in their white form were frequent around
Porthor Bay. 11 June, 2018
The orchids grew in sandy soil with a reasonable loam content but in rocky crevices I discovered plants of Sea-milkwort, Glaux maritima. It has been so many year since I saw this tiny member of the primrose family that confess it took me a while to identify it.
Sea Milkwort occupied tight crevices in rocks. 10 June, 2018
But enough of the botany. There was much else of interest. Beside the road a little south of Morfa Nefyn a feature remains which took me right back to my childhood. Prior to the appearance of mobile phones a motorist could be stranded miles from anywhere, especially as cars were less reliable than modern vehicles. For this reason hundreds of specially constructed phone boxes were placed strategically scatted across Britain.  Each member of the AA was provided with a key. The RAC had a similar scheme.
This example, Box 580, is a Grade II listed building and is maintained in a very smart condition. In fact 24 of these boxes survive but this is the first I have come across.
On of Britain's few surviving AA boxes which we found near to
Boduan. 10 June, 2018
We passed this box on the way to Pwllheli, a town of which little needs to be said other than the obvious point that it needs a hefty cash injection. The harbour is colourful with dozens of boats but I only took out my camera to try and photograph this heron, fishing in a nearby creek. The distance was just too great for my little Nikon.
A Grey Heron tries its luck in a creek just off Pwllheli's harbour.
10 June, 2018
Pwllheli's most important building is the Lidl store.