Seeing the woods from the trees

03 Sep, 2018

What a long tiring but great fun and great teamwork the weekend has been... Tour of Britain Grand Depart from Pembrey Country Park, a wheelie great success (get it).

Written by Paul Aubrey, Pembrey Country Park, Team Member

Geraint Thomas
Chris Froome

My small part was to set up the nature table in the marquee, and to lead two guided walks, a beach safari and a woodland walk.

Nature table, the large item on the left is an unidentified whale skull

It was great to have an interesting mix of people join me for both walks, the strandline safari was tough with little of interest on the beach, just as well I did a recce in the morning, but plenty to see on the way to the beach (it took 30mins to walk from the visitor centre to the beach!!)

I tried to get the message across that the county has so much countryside and coast to explore, with the park being a unique blend of natural and manmade habitats, mentioning the now considered misguided approach of stabilising the dune systems in the post war years.. we are spending so much money undoing all that work, money well spent though

The woodland walk was a bit "on the hoof" as I hadn't prepped myself (admin error)but we did look at a wide variety of trees including SESSILE OAK, BEECH, ASH, SILVER BIRCH, CORSICAN PINE, HORSE CHESTNUT, GREY WILLOW, POPLAR,SYCAMORE and HOLLY.

Some of the oaks in the park have the most enormous leaves, I think this may be a stress related reaction to the environment look out for them along western ride. There are two native species of Oak in the UK , Sessile usually a western species and Pendunculate or English Oak, the simplest way to identify them is in the autumn when the acorns are formed, Sessile acorns grow against the twig whilst Pendunculate grow on stems away from the twigs.

Holly is very common throughout the country park and Pembrey Forest, one reason for this is that most of the trees are male and don't have berries so are less attractive as Christmas decorations.

Interesting gems to look for are SPANGLE GALLS on the underside of the Oak leaves caused by the Spangle Gall wasp and TAR SPOT on the Sycamore leaves caused by a fungus.

During both walks we were "buzzed" by a Migrant Hawker dragonfly

Written by Paul Aubrey, Pembrey Country Park Team Member