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.

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