It was Birding Watching Monday and a small number of my class decided to go by bus to Portaferry, then take the ferry to Strangford and walked through a lovely small wood. Apart from seeing Gulls and a few Oystercatcher from the bus, Common Tern and Cormorant from the ferry, then the usual woodland birds like Blue, Coal and Great Tit with the odd Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird and Wood Pigeon, there was not much else showing. Nevertheless, we did find things of interest which I am going to share with you.
Hogweed - Heracleum sphondylium
There was still some Queen Anne’s lace although most had past their best however the Hogweed was coming into bloom.
Hogweed flowers from June to September. The flowers are self-compatible and usually insect-pollinated. There are several hundred seeds in each flower umbel. The average seed number per plant in ruderal habitats is 5,030. Seed is shed slowly from August until winter.
Ripe seeds contain a rudimentary embryo that requires 2-3 months at low temperatures to after-ripen. Seed has given 3% germination after 14 days at 5°C and 69% after 96 days. Seeds do not after-ripen fully at higher temperatures and there was no germination of seed kept at room temperature. Seeds buried in soil develop a light requirement for germination.
Bud of Hogweed
Roger Phillips in his book 'Wild Food' says "This is unequivocally one of the best vegetables I have ever eaten.
Hogweed is a member of the celery family (umbelliferae) and is actually nicer as a vegetable than braised celery. However - the taste is not at all like celery. Hogweed tastes like - hogweed. I know of nothing else similar. Hogweed has a distinctive and pleasant smell when the leaves are bruised. The young leaves, slightly furled and young stems are best when cooked as a vegetable".
Plantain - Plantago lanceolata
Apart from the Plantain above, there were a lot of different types of grasses which none of us knew the names of, however there was one with a reddish/pink colour and was shedding is seed all around the place that I videoed and you will see at the end of this post.
During our walk through the wood we found 2 wood carvings. Below is an Owl and the bottom was part of a tree with chiseled out words.
"Big bright yellow eyes like moons,
searching into dark forests for careless creatures".
"Big red fox sleeking along the hedge,
white tipped twitching tail, alert and listening".
When we finished our walk we had lunch in the Cuan Hotel and were greeted outside with this lovely cart smothered in small colourful Pansies
Lunch was delicious and this photo below was shot for me by the owner’s wife of some of my group.
On our way to the ferry we passed a lovely garden and I spied a tree that I knew was unusual. I found out later that it was Sambucus Nigra ‘Black Lace’ and in the Elderflower family.
We also saw this shrub called Olearia macrodonta.
Every time you cross the ’Narrows’ between Portaferry and Strangford, you see the Tidal Turbine and I thought you might like to know about that.
It is world's first commercial-scale tidal turbine was commissioned in Northern Ireland's Strangford Lough in July 2008. The 1.2MW SeaGen project was developed by Marine Current Turbines (MCT).
The project, SeaGen was installed in Strangford Lough in May 2008. It was towed to the mouth of the Lough by a barge. The turbine as a whole weighs 1,000t, and is 43m wide from tip to tip. Designed by engineer Peter Fraenkel, the rotors drive a generator that sends energy along a cable that then links into the national grid across the Lough in Strangford village
"SeaGen works much like an 'underwater windmill' with the rotors being driven by the power of the tidal currents rather than the wind." Strangford Lough has a highly energetic tide race and so is recognised as one of the main tidal 'hotspots' in UK and Irish waters.
Built at Belfast's Harland and Wolff's shipyards, the birthplace of the Titanic, SeaGen took around 14 days to install, with the system literally being bolted onto the Lough's bed. SeaGen briefly delivered 150KW of electricity into the grid while it was being commissioned in July 2008.
SeaGen has a mobile cross arm on a single supporting pile 3m in diameter and 9m above the average sea level. The twin rotors begin to generate electricity once the tide runs faster than 1m/s. At maximum speed, the tips move at around 12m/s, which is around 1/3 of the average wind turbine speed. The two rotating blades turn at 14rpm and drive a gear box system. comprising of two 600KW turbines, required a total investment of £12m.
The project reached an important milestone in September 2012 by producing up to 5GWh of power since its commissioning. This is equal to the power required by 1,500 households annually. The milestone indicates the completion of the demonstration phase of the project.
Lastly I am showing you a very short video and can be accessed at http://youtu.be/2yV_WZ_C8A4
I hope you enjoyed today's post even though we did not see many birds.
I would like to thank ALL the bloggers who left comments yesterday on any of my posts.