Archive: July 2012

Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)

Spied lots of this on the way up to Craig Fach on the flanks of Bwlch y Moch today.

Euphrasia comes from the Greek for delight, it is known as bird’s-eye, fairy flax in Donegal, peeweets in Devon and Christ’s sight in Wales, From the 14th century onwards, because it resembles a bloodshot eye, the juice or distilled water was dropped into the eye, or taken in wine, to improve eyesight. Ladies used it to make their eyes more attractive. Highlanders made an infusion in milk with it and applied it with a feather to weak or inflamed eyes. it is still used today to brighten the eyes by tightening the mucous membranes. it was taken internally to allay hay fever, catarrh and sinusitis. In the 16th Century the dried leaves were made into eyebright ale and a herbal tobacco smoked for bronchial colds. Drinking  a tea made from it, or simply carrying it, was thought to aid mental clarity and enable one to detect those telling lies!. flowers through from March to october

Posted in Mountain Flora & Fauna

Coasteering Session

Had good weather and near perfect tide conditions today at Porth Dafarch.  19 Army Recruiting Team made a booking with the intention of promoting teamwork and personal development.  Judging by their comments at the end of session review the aim was fully achieved.

We arrived on Holy Island at 10 o’clock just after high tide to sunshine and about 2ft of swell.  The group got suited and booted and looked out to sea wide eyed.  We discussed what to expect from the day and I coaxed out the group’s expectations, fears and what they perceived to look forward to.  With all the safety briefs out of the way we headed North up the coastline to our entry point.  On the way the group was educated to local history, flora, fauna and a guide to the mountain panorama of Snowdonia to the South.

Enough of talking, time to get wet!  The session began with backdrops the aim of this was two-fold – an icebreaker and to get the wetsuits submersed and working effectively.  There were a few squeals upon gaining the first total immersion of the day.  Moving round 100m we visited body positions for deep water entries then straight into 1, 2, and 3m jumps.  The group also received coaching on dealing with the swell and techniques to gain the rocks from the water.

Onwards.  Doggy paddling through the boulder fields.  Confidence now sky high we pushed on to the 4m jumps, 2 jumps each across the zawn and before we know it we’re on the final jumps buttress.  3 jumps were presented to the group, the highest being approx 12m today because of the high tide.  The guys and girls did brilliantly, all went to the biggest jump and most managed to commit to airborne status!

On the way back to the beach we continued the backdrop theme eventually all emerging on the beach at Porth Dafarch as one group.  The entire group were buzzing and can’t wait for a return visit to Snowdonia.  Perhaps a gorge session guys?  Well done all.

Posted in Mountain adventures

Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia)

One of the earliest flowering plants of the year, it is most common in Arctic regions, where the Inuit eat the sweet leaves as an accompaniment to blubber. When it is in bloom they know that the Caribou herds are calving. The flowers and leaves can be made into tea, which can help relieve stomach problems. it yields gold, green and cream coloured dyes. it favours the mountains, rocks, cliffs and lime soils

Posted in Mountain Flora & Fauna

Meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis)

A small, brown, streaky bird, it is the commonest songbird in upland areas and its high, piping call is a familiar sound. In flight it shows white outer tail feathers and in the breeding season it has a fluttering ‘parachute’ display flight. In winter they are quite gregarious and gather in small flocks, often invisible among the vegetation, suddenly flying up with typical jerky flight.

Meadow pipit numbers in the UK have been declining since the mid-1970s, resulting in this species being included on the amber list of conservation concern.

The meadow pipit looks frail and feeble – but it is a tough little bird. It is one of a few species that you can find on the bleak uplands and chilly coasts throughout the year. It often rises from the feet with what looks to be an air of “panic” – fleeting past one way – then another – looks like it cant decide which way to go – but on the ground it is quite a “laid back” mover. In the spring it performs a flight-song – the purpose being to defend its territory from another pipit.

 

Posted in Mountain Flora & Fauna

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