I have visited Elan valley oak woodlands, (Coed Cwnch) and Rheidol oak woodlands to record the spring species I find and collect some things to paint. We have had a really cold spring and lots of plants are very late in their growth. The oak leaves are just starting to burst and there are curly fern crosiers everywhere.
In the photo above; The ancient woodlands clothe the sides of the Rheidol valley, they exist mainly in steep river valleys.
The main plants of these oak woods are bilberries, heather and mosses, with birch, Holly and rowan trees adorned with honeysuckle, lichens and ivy. There are few species of flower as the soil is more acidic, but we have wood sorrel and violets,with bluebells and wood anemone in the deeper soils. Some of the mosses are now producing their spore capsules on bright red and orange stems, so I've been painting these for my oak woods painting. Also some Pied Flycatcher eggs in a little nest, these birds along with redstart are seen frequently in these woods; They are summer visitors.
I saw many bumble bees too feeding on the bilberry flowers.
The sessile oaks are twisted and gnarled and in some places their roots cling to the rocks.
Above you can see the oak branches still in bud, with the river Rheidol in the distance. A small bridge spans the gorge; called the Parsons bridge.
The river has eroded the rock in the gorge below into cauldrons and pools.
You cannot walk very far in these woods but its good enough just to sit and think(or de-stress!). Its great that we have these places protected for the future.
Next week I'll post some sketches from the spring woodland.