"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 31 October 2011

New Year Tick for the Garden

I was thrilled to see a female blackcap in the garden this morning - the first time I have seen the species in the garden this year.

She spent several minutes foraging around the pyracantha so perhaps there are a few berries left after all.

Garden Bird Species 2011 - 27 (excluding flyovers)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

North Wales - Day 5 Friday, 21st October - Barmouth and Another Mine

Cold and cloudy with drizzly rain most of the day.

We had to vacate the property by 10.00 a.m. and we popped into Barmouth to have another look round.

The photos below were taken on a brief visit to the town earlier in the week.

This sculpture by a local sculptor is called the Last Haul and shows 3 fishermen hauling in a net. Its made from a block of marble recovered in the 1980's from an eighteenth century shipwreck lying on the sea bed a few miles away from Barmouth. The ship is believed to have been a galleon from Genoa, Italy, which hit a storm off the Welsh coast.

On the way home we stopped off at King Arthur's Labyrinth where Brian and David went on an underground boat trip and more walks through underground caverns with lots of story telling about King Arthur. To be honest I'd ahve enough of being underground the day before so Emily and I had a look round the Corris Craft Centre which was excellent. Lots of shops and workshops selling candles, jewellery, pottery, glass, carved wooden items, etc., where you could see craftsmen at work making the items they were selling.

I thought these dragons were rather cute and now rather wish I'd bought one!

We finally reached home about 6.00. Lovely relaxing holiday in a beautiful cottage with stunning scenery. I would have liked to have done more birdwatching if the weather had been drier and more suitable for walking but highlights of the trip were Portimeirion, Harlech Castle and Beddgelert (especially the icecreams!!)

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Not a lot of Moths!

I do believe this is about to be my shortest post ever!

Set the moth trap last night and when I checked it this morning there was absolutely no sign of any life forms whatsoever!

The temperature ranged from 10.5 degrees centigrade at 6.00 p.m. down to 2.7 degrees centigrade so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that there were absolutely no moths to be seen.

Edit - oops max and min temps should read 9.6 and 5.2 - I managed to copy down wrong week's temps

I'll try again next week then may put the trap "to bed" until spring depending on weather conditions.

Friday, 28 October 2011

North Wales - Day 4 Thursday, 20th October - Mountains and Mines

The weather was warmer today and thank goodness the wind had dropped - it was mainly cloudy with a few sunny intervals.

We were late going out as Brian and David walked down The Hundred Steps into Barmouth to get some essential food supplies whilst I spent the time watching birds visiting the garden. Over the course of the holiday we saw the usual garden bird species - blue and great tits, wren, blackbirds chaffinch, robin, magpies, wood pigeons, sparrowhawk and daily visits from a pair of jays burying acorns found on the surrounding hillside. The one species visiting which we never get at home was a pheasant. Highlight of the trip was a red kite seen on the journey. I had hoped to go a walk along the Mawddach estuary and add some year ticks but in the end we never really had time and being a family holiday you have to try and find things to do that will please everyone!

David and Emily were keen to catch the mountain railway which goes to the top of Snowdon. We stopped off at Glaslyn Ices again in Beddgelert - Turkish Delight this time (just as delicious as the chocolate and ginger).

Driving over mountain passes and witnessing stunning scenery we eventually arrived at Llanberis early afternoon only to discover that all the trains running to the top of Snowdon had been fully booked several hours ago!! So if you are thinking of this train journey its worth pre-booking or getting there early!

Not so many photos today or tomorrow as there weren't many opportunities to take pictures and when I did get chance the light was poor or I was trying to take into the sun!! I really will have to start being more selective concerning photos as I noticed today that I have already used up 74% of my photographic capacity. Eek!!

Snowdon is the mountain on the left with the peak covered in cloud

We stopped off at the Sygun Copper Mines, not far from Beddgelert, and decided to go on the self-guided audio visual tour of the mine. The mines were abandoned in 1903 and remained dormant until 1983 when the deep adit was was unblocked and drained and, following renovation, the mine re-opened to the public in 1986.

Entrance to the mine

The tour reveals how ore was extracted and processed in the nineteenth century and we saw copper ore veins containing traces of gold and silver. The rock of the mine is Ordovician and dates back 500 million years.

There were several chambers and caverns containing ferrous oxide stalactites and stalagmites and ochre beds.

The visitor centre also contained a very interesting Museum of Antiquities

The surrounding mountain side was turned into a Chinese village in 1958 for the filming of "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness".

In the evening we went for a meal at a great country pub called The Half Way House located mid-way between Barmouth and Dolgellau. Great food at good prices - I am still drooling over the meringue stack dessert!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

November or Autumnal Moth?

A short interlude from the holiday in Wales and back to Moths.

I ran the trap last Saturday night, 22nd October.

There were only four moths to be found on Sunday morning (minimum overnight temperature was 8.8 degrees centigrade).

One moth was a Blair's Shoulder Knot and the other 3 were all very similar - I really must improve my potting technique as two of the three managed to escape before I could pot them leaving just the moth in the photo below which was fairly worn with a wingspan of about 20 mm.

I think it is a November or Autumnal moth although according to the excellent Hants - Flying Tonight website there are four species of Epirrita in the UK and its difficult to tell them apart. As its so worn its difficult to see if the central spot is within or separate from the outer central cross band (or it is for me!). It would appear that genitalia dissection is the best way to separate the species. So I think it may well remain unidentified!

I'll be running the moth trap for a few more weeks just until the Garden Moth Scheme ends and then I will probably put it away for the winter unless we have a really mild spell.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

North Wales - Day 3 19th October - Portmeirion Part 2

After a picnic lunch we went back into the Village.

Just past the gatehouse there is a little round observation tower to the left of the path which gives lovely views of the estuary.

Then along a wooden path and down some steps onto the sea wall

which leads to the Hotel (used as the Old People's Home in The Prisoner)

Looking back towards The Village

Snowdonia from The Stone Boat

White Horses - once a fisherman's cottage. Patrick McGoohan stayed in this cottage during the filming of The Prisoner in 1966 and 1967

The Observatory Tower which contains a Camera Obscura


If you walk further alongside the estuary you come to a pretty little folly lighthouse marking Portmeirion's most southerly point but as it was looking like rain we retraced our steps and entered the woodland

Views of the Estuary from the edge of the woodland

The woods are beautiful and there are many footpaths through them - you can find all sorts of quirky features such as a Chinese Bridge, a Classical Temple, Pools, a Dog Cemetery, a gazebo etc. Its worth going there just to try out the best swing ever. I didn't take too many pictures today as the light within the woods was really poor but here are a few record shots.

Rainbow over the estuary

We eventually came back to the Village - it was after 5.00 p.m. now and the light was going as will be evident in some of the photos below!

Triumphal Arch

Salutation (used as the cafe in The Prisoner)

Several of the cottages are available on a self catering basis or as suites/rooms of the Hotel. I must admit I would love to stay here - one day perhaps..........

The skies were clear tonight and with little light pollution we looked at the stars and planets. The telescope revealed 3 of Jupiter's moons and you could see the Milky Way with the naked eye - it always makes me feel exceedingly insignificant!