I’ve just got back from holiday, which explains why things have been a bit quiet on here lately.
We’ve been up in Anglesey, North Wales. A beautiful part of the world, and we had beautiful weather to go with it. We’ve been sitting on the beach in the sunshine, introducing Scarlett to the pleasures of making sandcastles (great fun) and paddling in the sea (a bit too chilly!)
I confess that I haven’t done much from a wildlife perspective. I spent the days with the family and the nights fishing. I don’t go fishing very often these days, so this was a treat for me – or at least it was until I became increasingly obsessed in my hunt for the fish. At least I’ve got it out of my system for a while.
I spent a very enjoyable day with a friend of mine who was carrying out a 3d laser scan of an ancient monument in the area. The neolithic burial chamber of Barclodiad-y-Gawres dates back 5,000 years or so. Although there are many similar prehistoric monuments on Anglesey, Barclodiad-y-Gawres is almost unique because of its decorated stones. To protect these from vandalism, a concrete dome has been built over the site and entrance is highly restricted. My friend was creating a full scan of the site, accurate to millimetres, to create a full virtual model of the monument. This was being filmed for the TV series Hidden Histories, so watch out for that on the BBC later this year. My role on the day was to carry the tripods, act as a general assistant and swap theories with the various archaeologists present.
Does this have anything to do with wildlife? Well, maybe a little. For a start, we were accompanied on the day by a pair of choughs. These delightful little crows are still rare, but they seem to be expanding along the sea cliffs of Anglesey. It was the first time I’d seen them in this spot, anyway.
A second wildlife connection came from Barclodiad-y-Gawres itself. The tomb is famous because the archaeologists who excavated the site found a collection of small bones from, among other things, wrasse, whiting, eel, grass snake, frog, toad and mouse. They interpreted this as the remains of a strange ‘ritual stew’ that the stone age builders had made.
Personally, I don’t believe this. I think that the bones were much more likely to have come from the dung (‘spraint’) of an otter. I’ll write up my theory and the evidence for it in a proper paper one day. It’s ironic really. I was talking to some of the leading archaeologists in the field, and I managed to steer the conversation round to animal poo.