With the late arrival, on Saturday night, of our Marine Recorder, Simon Taylor, we are nine in residence at Bryn Engan. Before we head for our shore of the day the five conchologists in our number have time to set up stations in the ‘dry lab’, a small weatherproof outbuilding which harbours a small pool table around which we erect temporary work benches to accommodate our microscopes and associated paraphernalia.
There is also a wet lab of sorts, a larger stable with a ping pong table, which is served by the outside tap where we must sieve our samples. It works. We just lack sea water on tap and late on Sunday evening an excursion to a local beach is made to fill the two large plastic containers which Ian Smith has brought. Ian needs to set up his photographic equipment and eventually settles on the front porch!
On Sunday our shore of the day is Porth Dinllaen, a stretch of coast which has been surveyed on previous Conch Soc field trips under the auspices of Tom Clifton the former area recorder for Anglesey and the Lleyn.
Porth Dinllaen at Morfa Nefyn, is a rocky peninsula projecting northwards with a small harbour of east side and more craggy and less accessible coast on the west. With special dispensation we park at the golf club there and walk the tarmacked right of way that crosses the greens and more than once to the shout of ‘Fore’ we duck because misguided golf balls are heading our way. To our left as we walk north there is a string of pocket beaches which look promising, if difficult of access. Some of our number head for the tip of the small peninsula.
Despite careful searching none of us on that shore finds Melarhaphe neritoides nor much else in the way of upper shore crevice dwelling molluscs, although I do later obtain Lasaea adansoni from my Lichina sample. Really I am waiting to see if the ebbing tide will reveal the extensive Zostera beds I recall from previous visits. Zostera is otherwise known as eelgrass (which is a good name) or seawrack which is a bad name as Zostera is a grass, a flowering plant, not an alga or seaweed. (At Studland in Dorset there are now seahorses breeding amongst the Zostera there). Sure enough as more of the sand flats are revealed, so also is the green turf, which losing its buoyancy in the water, flops onto the silty sands losing its grace and mobility, which are features to enjoy when wading Zostera beds in shallow water. I am stymied for sampling as I have slipped up by forgetting to bring a sieve of suitable mesh size in order to sieve some sediments associated with the sea grass, taking sand from small bare patches where the roots of the sea grass are not disturbed. Even so I might have expected to see a scattering of shells of the species that inhabit this particular biotope.
We do find valves and fragments of the showy venerid clam Callista chione. This is a large bivalve with a handsome polished shell. It is also edible although you would be wise to cook Callista first as attempts to swallow it raw and whole may be met with resistance from the large muscular foot. Unlike the passive and hapless oyster! My species list for the site is otherwise paltry. With the law of diminishing returns in force we decide to take our paltry haul of specimens back to the ‘lab’ leaving our stalward Marine Recorder working the little pocket beaches we passed on our way to the shore.
Who ate all the pies? Well, we did; our evening meal being contributed by Peter whose local butcher makes fine meat pies. Followed by his blackberry and apple crumbles we are replete and can settle to sorting our samples.