SUMMER 2015: it had its moments....

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It's October 15th 2015 and it's been over five months since the weather-diary has been updated. The reason was that summer 2015 was one of the most uneventful, weatherwise, that I can ever recollect. Wet at times, but never spectacularly so, with a distinct lack of interesting convective conditions here - though some other places saw impressive thunderstorms, especially across southern and eastern parts of England.

Here, as has often been the case in recent years, the most summerlike weather has occurred during the past few weeks. Long anticyclonic spells, glorious sunshine, plenty of mackerel inshore in often calm seas... all very pleasant but not so photogenic.

Also, I've been very busy on another project - a writing one, getting on for 60,000 words worth and which involved the reading of hundreds of papers from the peer-reviewed literature. It's now with a literary agent, so time will tell as to its fate. It will be published one way or another - it represents a time investment of getting on for two years of writing and research. More on that as appropriate.

The guided fishing business is doing OK for its first year - other guides told me to expect an average of a booking a month in year one. Having said which, I had three bookings in one week in September, all of which found fish for the customers! Details are here:
http://www.geologywales.co.uk/fishing/

So this diary entry will be a highlights page.

Midsummer saw my friends Ioan and Bryony booking all of Bach-Wen campsite at Clynnog-fawr on the north Llyn coast for their wedding weekend. Much fun was had by all and the weather was great. The following four shots show the view from the beach by the campsite in its changing moods. What a stunning spot!

Clynnog coast

Clynnog coast

Clynnog coast

Clynnog coast

July brought with it unsettled conditions, with some very wet weather at times - days when if you could see the hills it was about to rain and when you couldn't see them the rain had already arrived. The amount of fresh water entering the sea played havoc with the fishing and dissolved organic carbon, flushed from the peaty uplands, turned the sea off the Harbour at Aberystwyth the colour of black coffee! The following two images capture the effect:

Aberystwyth harbour mouth


Aberystwyth harbour mouth

One afternoon whilst guiding I caught the launch of the Aberystwyth Lifeboat to aid a stricken yacht just off the Harbour, where the ground is shallow and rocky, making it hazardous at low tide. The second image, or one like it, was used by the local paper the Cambrian News, so that was a bonus to the day.

lifeboat rescue, Aberystwyth harbour mouth

lifeboat rescue, Aberystwyth harbour mouth

Something impressive did occur in the skies on the evening of August 2nd. Elevated convective showers brought with them a spectacular display of mammatus: these were taken near my HQ in Forge.

mammatus

mammatus

mammatus

mammatus

mammatus

On the 7th of August I went on holiday - well my version of it - a night's camping up at Mynydd Mawr, which is literally the last campsite on the Llyn Peninsula. I caught a few mackerel, cooked them for supper then headed up onto the nearby top of Mynydd Gwyddel with a bottle of plonk to watch the sunset. It turned out that plenty of others had exactly the same game-plan, dotted about sat on any flatter bits of rock they could find!

The views from this place, both near and distant, are stunning. This is looking eastwards along the coast, past the inlet of Porth Felen:

Bardsey Sound

Across to Bardsey:

Bardsey Sound

To the west, the sunset was starting to get its act together. But what is that on the horizon?

Bardsey Sound

Two walkers ascending Cardiac Hill? No, further away than that...

Bardsey Sound

The Wicklow Mountains of eastern Ireland. To be fair, I've seen and photographed them before from this part of the world, but very infrequently...

Bardsey Sound and Wicklow Mountains

And so the show began: the reflection of the sea is that of the sun, here obscured by a cloudbank, but over there illuminating the water surface:

Bardsey Sound and Wicklow Mountains

On it came:

Bardsey Sound and Wicklow Mountains

It was as though I was witnessing the rising of the anti-sun!


Bardsey Sound and Wicklow Mountains

Bardsey Sound and Wicklow Mountains

A good night's sleep that night and more fishing the following day - a well-needed break in other words.

The garden has had mixed fortunes this year - the chard and shallots were great, the potatoes less so with blight hitting them a month before lifting-time. But these are good-sized shallots:

shallots

shallots

Butterflies have been present in reasonable numbers but not as abundantly as was the case in 2014:

comma

By mid-August the local woods started to produce a steady stream of chanterelles:


chanterelles

My near neighbour Bill called me over one September afternoon to see if I could photograph the unusual bird visiting his garden. I hadn't seen anything like it before, but a bit of searching online and it turned out to be a Diamond Dove - a small member of the pigeon family resident in Australia! It must have escaped from captivity. Only about the size of a blackbird, it was a new one to me:

diamond dove

September also saw a new one for my shore species list - a Scad, or Horse Mackerel. I'd caught lots from boats in the past but never before from the coast. That's species #47 from the Welsh shore, and both I and my customer (I was guiding up at Pwllheli at the time) went on to catch several more as night fell.

scad

This was taken the same day, earlier at another venue where one fishes a tidal rip past a headland. We had just decided on the move to Pwllheli and were clambering up off the rocks when I turned and the light was just perfect for the shot. The angler is a local who I've met there before - getting on in years but still very keen on his fishing.

fishing

As it happens, the lack of storms has meant that much of my photography has been when out fishing. This was taken after sunset on an early October evening at Tywyn:

sunset tywyn

Late September and early October saw my Lifelong Learning geological course being taught for Aberystwyth University. With a small and eager group of students, we explored a series of localities across North Wales over three successive Saturdays, and on each, something unusual was found. At Tonfanau on the first trip I located the first recorded ammonite fossil from the Jurassic limestone blocks that are present there as glacial erratics:

ammonite

The following week that discovery was to be upstaged by this one: a WW2 mortar shell found near Cregennen! I took this photo, followed by a series of shots of its location, including landmarks, and annotated them with arrows in Photoshop where necessary, once back home. I then called 101 and got transferred to the relevant police area and gave them the details. The local station at Dolgellau then called me back and supplied an email address to send the photos to. They, with the bomb-disposal people, were then able to find the object without difficulty so there was no need to go back there to show them its location which I had offered to do. If readers ever find something suspicious, take the same steps I took, especially the photos - had a nice thank you phone call back from the police in Dolgellau who said they were invaluable. Case closed!

unusual find


October 10th saw the final field trip to Uwchmynydd to look at the amazing Gwna Melange of late Precambrian age and its array of weird and wonderful blocks of different rocks, like this limestone:

gwna melange limestone

gwna melange limestone

It's all part of an ancient oceanic plate and associated sediments at a destructive plate margin - an oceanic trench where subduction of one plate under another was taking place. The interesting find on this occasion was hitherto-undocumented copper mineralisation.

Bardsey sound

A final shot from later on the same day - more Bardsey Sound magic. I never tire of the place.

The anticyclonic quiet of the last few weeks will shift this week in favour of Atlantic systems, which will make a nice change, although high pressure never seems far away on the model output. Some rain would however be useful right now - apart from helping in the garden, it will hopefully give the chanterelles a boost. They don't tend to like dry weather. More soon, and this time hopefully it WILL be soon!

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