Thursday 25 July 2013

Sunset and High Tide at Humberston Fitties.

After  a day of jobs around the house and a day at work for Thomas, we were keen to get out to take some photographs so we gathered the gear and headed for Cleethorpes, eventually deciding on The Fitties.  There was very little wind and conditions were near perfect.  We arrived almost bang on high tide and at one point I had to move my bag to avoid the incoming water.  When I looked again a few minutes later it had already retreated by a few feet.  I had hoped for some bird sightings but apart from the black headed gulls on the lagoon and a few linnets, there was virtually no activity.  The sunset was excellent though and me made some pleasing images.  It was interesting to see, yet again, at this time of year that the lagoon was very dry.  I am never sure whether this is down to evaporation or has some tidal cause, but even in last couple of very wet years when the water table must have been high, the lagoon still dried out.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

A Cold Swim in Aber Falls.

A lazy morning in the sun today while we waited for Beth and Thomas to recover from last night's celebrations!!  We picked them up at 1.00 pm and drove over to Llanberis for an ice cream at the shop where Beth used to work.  Very good too.  Next it was on to The Aber Falls.  It was baking hot and the only signs of life were ringlet butterflies which were on the wing in good numbers.  Suprisingly there was still plenty of water coming over the falls despite the recent hot, dry spell.  I was even persuaded to swim in the pool right under the falls.  It was bracing to say the least, but once in, very pleasant.  We were even able to sit with our heads behind the fall looking out through a curtain of water.  Looking up we could see sparkling water cascading over the lip with vibrant green trees set against the deep cerulean blue sky.

Soon it was time to return to the van for beer, BBQ and Tour.  An excellent day.
Aber Falls

'Following still the course of the stream, I soon came within sight of the waterfall, called Rhaiadr Mawr, The Great Cateract .... at some distance two or three divisions of the upper rock were seen, but immediately at the foot little more than the lower fall is visible.  In the bed of the river, ... are scattered numerous fragments of Rock'
Bingley, Rev. W. North Wales: Delineated from excursions through all the interesting parts of that highly beautiful and romantic country.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Graduation Day.

A wonderful day.  Up early to another day of hot weather and into Bangor to meet up with Thomas and Beth at the uni.  Beth had already picked up her gown and mortar board and looked stunning in it.  For a while we mingled with the milling crowds of students and parents, chatted to her friends and took photographs.  Before long it was time to go into the hall for the ceremony.  This was not overly long as it was one of several to fit in all of the students.  It was emotional, though, watching our little girl receive her degree.  We were incredibly proud of her.  The formal part of the day over, it was time for more photographs and then a buffet lunch organised by the Modern Languages Department, after which we dropped Beth and Thomas off at her flat while we went back to the caravan for a rest and to get changed.  In the evening we met Beth's special group of friends for a meal with all of the parents in a smashing Italian seafood restaurant in Beaumaris right on the shore.  The evening light on the Menai straits was beautiful and I enjoyed watching the local sandwich terns fish for their supper.
Oops missed her feet off!!

Mum and daughter.

Our little girl.

Brother and sister.

What do you think to my gown?

The mob!!  I'm the good looking one on the left.

A proud graduate.

Tradition has to be followed.

'The Girls'

What are we supposed to do with these hoods?

Beth's favourite shot.

Monday 15 July 2013

A Day on the Celtic Fringes - Llanddwyn Island.

Woke yet again to a cloudless sky this morning but suprisingle it soon clouded over.  Undaunted we continued with our plans and drove over to Anglesey and onto Newborough Warren.  Unlike last September we opted to drive through the forest and park in the beach car park.  As we arrived the tide and the fog both rolled in but it was still warm.  As we walked through the dunes to the beach, we found good numbers of pyramidal and common spotted orchids but early purples were going over and past their best.  Rest harrow was everywhere.  We continued along the beach to Ynys LLanddwyn, or Lovers Island, with tendrils of mist playing round our ankles. The island is  rich in legends, and in particular the association with Dwynwen. The name Llanddwyn means "The church of St. Dwynwen". Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers, making her the Welsh equivalent of St. Valentine. Her Saint's day is January 25 and is often celebrated by the Welsh with cards and flowers. The remains of St Dwynwen's Church can still be found on the island.  Although technically an island, it is connected to the mainland by a sand and shingle causeway and only cut off on the highest tides.  By the causeway are groups of rocks; fabulous green coloured pillow lavas encrusted with grey and yellow lichens, remnants of volcanic activity from aeons ago.
As we walked over to the island we found sea holly with its grey, green spikey leaves and powder blue flowers.  Bloody cranesbill proliferated in the dunes.  Butterflies were on the wing as the fog cleared: meadow browns, small heaths and the occasional unidentified fritillary.  As we wandered over the island and the low cliff tops the grasses had ripened to a dry gold and the ground was studded with yellow catsear.  Vipers Bugloss was growing profusely in the gardens of the old pilots' cottages.
By now the sun had burned the clouds off but fog still lingered and wreathed around the hills of the Lleyn Peninsular across the bay.  This is another magical place with a celtic atmosphere on the western fringes of our archipelago; a finger of rock thrusting out into the bay, cut off on the highest tides.
Soon it was time to make our way back to Bangor to pick up Beth and head back to the caravan for a BBQ.  Oh, and a beer!
Fog drifts in to Newborough Warren.
Pyramidal Orchid

Bloody Cranesbill
Common Spotted Orchid

Sea Glass.  Felt bowl by Heather.
Sea Urchin. Felt Bowl by Heather.
Pillow Lava

Sea Holly

The Boy!

Lighthouse, Llanddwyn Island, Lleyn Peninsular behind.

Cross and Lighthouse.

Perfect end to a perfect day.  Puffin Island and Penmon Lighthouse.

Sunday 14 July 2013

The Druids' Circle.

This morning again dawned warm and sunny and, after a relaxing breakfast outside, we headed up into the hills, parking at the beginning of the North Wales Path above Llanfairfechan.  This meandered upwards at an easy angle, soon reaching open hillside.  Foxgloves and welsh poppies were still in flower despite the hot weather.  As we climbed the views back over the Menai Straits to Anglesey and down to Bangor were fabulous.  Reaching the open hillside there were rounded lumps of whin covering the hillside, all on the verge of coming into flower.  White rumped wheatears flitted on boulders and rock walls (oh for my 500 lens!), house martins swooped and wheeled in the air around us and all around were the raucous cries of herring gulls and jackdaws croaking and talking to themselves. Welsh ponies pottered around the fells feeding and minding their own business.  Eventually we reached the Druids' Circle, an ancient stone circle, the tallest stones being shoulder height, perched high above Penmaenmowr and The Great Orme at Llandudno. This Bronze Age monument is said to be one of the finest examples in Wales.  The stones are encrusted with a colourful lichen flora and all around yellow tormentil flowers peep golden out of the grass.  This is a magical and atmorpheric spot and I couldn't help trying to imagine what it must have been like 3000 years ago when it was used for worship and ceremonies.

As we wandered back down the hillside, the sound of farm machinery busy with haymaking drifted up from the valley on the hot breeze.  All around were aromas of hot earth and bracken.

Soon it was time to head for Bangor Station to pick up our son Thomas who was joining us for Beth's graduation.  As we waited for him in the car park , it was fascinating to watch a buzzard being harried by the local herring gulls.

The evening concluded with a BBQ, a great Tour stage and a digestif in the last of the evening light.

To see the images large, click on a thumbnail.
Looking back to Bangor and the Menai Straights from the North Wales Path.
The Druids' Circle
The Druids' Circle with The Great Orme in the background.

The Druid's Circle.

Lichen covered standing stone.
The Boy after the BBQ.

Saturday 13 July 2013

North Wales for Beth's Graduation.

Yesterday we drove across to North Wales for our daughter, Beth's graduation.  She has just completed four years at Bangor Uni studying Spanish and Italian.
The pack up and getaway went well, especially as it was the first trip out in the caravan since last September.  We were away from Stallingborough, where we store the van, by 11.30.  The journey went well and we arrived at our site in Llanfairfechan at 5.00 with a couple of stops.  Despite Sally Satnav's protestations we drove over the Woodhead Pass in preference to the M62.  A quick trip into Bangor for shopping and we were back chilling in the hot sun with a beer while our ready meal heated in the oven.  Delighted by a fantastic weather forecast for the next few days, we fell into bed exhausted after a hectic week.

We awoke this morning to cloudless skies and high temperatures.  After a late get up, a lazy breakfast followed and we proceeded to relax on the site in the sun all morning recharging the batteries.

The plan for the afternoon was to walk up to the nearby Aber Falls, but on driving up to the car park, we found it heaving, so we opted for the sea front in Llanfairfechan instead.  We were very pleasantly surprised; a beautiful spot with rocky beach and wonderful old groynes, weathered to a lustrous silver sheen by wind and spray, and views over the Menai Straits to Anglesey and Puffin Island with Penmon light in between and up into the Carneddau mountains behind us.  I had last been up there in February in a blizzard and had seen nothing from their summits; today they were totally clear of cloud.  After an ice cream we wandered along the sea to the attractive and interesting saltmarsh nature reserve.  The afternoon was baking hot and the air was full of the scent of hot earth and saltmarsh mud.  Few birds were in evidence other than gulls, a single curlew, pied wagtails foraging on the marsh and buzzards wheeling on the thermals above the hills.  In one of the creeks, though, cut off from the sea until the next big tide, was a shoal of huge torpedo-shaped grey mullet.

We had read about stone circle - the Druids' Circle, up in the hills and with the help of a local couple, identified its location; the target for tomorrow.

After the walk it was back to the van in time for beer o'clock, tea and Le Tour.

Images below weathered groynes, Llanfairfechan.  To view large click on the thumbnail.

Puffin Island on the horizon.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Colour in The Wolds.

On the way home from photographing last night's sunset we noticed some fields of poppies growing in late oil seed rape and decided to go out tonight and have a go at them, not easy as the fields were difficult to get at.  Telephotos were the order of the day.  Another beautiful evening.

Click on a thumbnail to see all images large.

An Afternoon with Butterflies on Gooseman's Field.

Behind our house and a short walk through the cemetery is a large area of meadow and young plantation; Gooseman's Field.  It is an area that I know well from my daily runs round here and it makes an ideal spot for some wildlife watching and photography when time is short. It is good all year for birds and in the summer for flowers and insects.  It is a spot where I often see some of my first spring migrants and today whitethroat, blackcap, willow warbler and chiffchaff were all singing.  Having an hour or so at my disposal I opted for a walk around looking for butterflies.  I was not disappointed; I saw and photographed meadow brown, small heath, large skipper and speckled wood.  There were also large numbers of ringlets but, despite usually being easy to photograph, they were not cooperating today.  I also spotted one common blue.  It was a beautiful cloudless afternoon and the air smelled of hot summer days, the scent of hot earth, wild roses, clover and broad beans filling the air.  Despite being close to roads the only sound was the occasional snort of one of the horses tethered in the field.  Flowers were plentiful and included, red and white clover, tufted and horseshoe vetch and rockrose.
Dog Rose.

Dog Rose.

Horseshoe Vetch.

Large Skipper.

Meadow Brown.


Small Heath.

Small Heath.

Speckled Wood.

Speckled Wood.

Tufted Vetch.