0900 the following morning (20th March) presaged a spring day to remember. Satellite images clearly show that North west Wales received far more sunshine than anywhere else in UK that day and a benign south easterly drift accentuated the heating effect by keeping sea breezes at bay along the Caernarfonshire coastal strip whilst providing perfect conditions for a marked Fohn effect from the sheltering Carneddau mountains. Temperatures steadily rose throughout the day, peaking at a remarkable 22.25 degrees centigrade at 1600. A phone call to the BBC confirmed that this was the highest temperature recorded in UK that day and one of the highest ever March temperatures countrywide. Interestingly the same temperature was registered by our sister research centre, Henfaes, 10 kilometres eastwards along the coast, at about the same time on 20th. The warmth continued well in to the evening (14 degrees at 2100) prompting even more toad activity and a varied and intense flight of moths, with over 200 individuals of 20 species recorded in two Light Traps. This warm spell continued for 5 more days and ensured a fine show of daffodils, Rhododendron x. cilpinense, Euphorbia mellifera, celandine and gorse. Chiff chaffs voiced their approval on arrival from the 20th onwards. Finally 22.8 mm of rain on the 30th added to March’s meteorological medley.
April began with the uplifting song of Blackcap and for a short while a warmth to rival that of a fortnight before (20 degrees centigrade on 2nd). But such joys were quickly overshadowed by the environmental vandalism waged on the Garden’s southern boundary by Network Rail. During a week of intense night time operations the railway line was mechanically cleared of vegetation and left like a disaster zone. We had less than 24 hours notice and despite protests have to date received no more explanation than a feeble worded acknowledgement of our concerns. Such extreme management is inexcusable and jeopardises the Garden in a number of ways – potential damage to specimen trees adjacent to the track, loss of shelter effect for the glasshouses, reduction in habitat for wildlife which is an integral part of the on going studies and interests of the university and direct damage to populations of birds and other animal life many of which were embarking on their breeding season. It is the curator’s intention to pursue vehement criticism of Network Rail’s policy on trackside management in the hope that future work is more environmentally friendly. After all in this age of ever more intensively managed countryside the railway line network represents a very significant wildlife refuge and a country-wide wildlife corridor.
To add to the gloom it rained on all but 5 days in April and the wind seemed all too frequently to blow coolly from the north, resulting in a mean daily maximum temperature of only 12 degrees centigrade. Happily the morning of the second year zoology students’ dawn chorus field trip bucked the trend and