I hear you ask . . .
Well I’ve been to Wales where there is no internet or mobile signal – absolute bliss – but lots of buzzard, red kite and local ales. The weather was lovely and I got to some great places. Based near Newcastle-Emlyn I had three full days to explore the area with an honorary Welsh-woman from the Healey clan.
The Teifi Estuary Reserve near Cardigan was a great choice on my first full day as there were light showers and with several hides around the reserve we were able to stay relatively dry. As in Kent there were lots of migrants announcing their arrival, with chiffchaff by far the most common – willow warblers came a close second – and the song of the chaffinch constant.
Swift, swallow, and house martin were feeding and lots of nests were apparent on houses and farm buildings. In fact my host has house martin and swallow nests with a colony of bats in the roof of her house. There were orange tip and speckled wood butterflies in large numbers and common spotted orchid and ragged robin were also growing in profusion.
The second day was spent walking on the coastal path between Llangranog and Penbryn. The main aim was for me to see chough – I was not disappointed – a pair were displaying along a headland and as we sat taking in the view they were flying low over our heads. Their distinctive babble always seems incongruous for such a bird. I finally saw wheatear, a species which has eluded me so far this year, and there were several pairs of stonechat singing on the top of the gorse bushes and taking advantage of the fence posts. Thrift, red campion, speedwell, sedum and numerous other cliff-top specialities lined the path and spread down the undulating cliffs toward the sea. After a good 6 mile walk up and down the undulating coastline a home-made ice cream was the order of the day.
Day three gave the opportunity for a further section of coast this time further south starting at Ciebwr. Once again buzzard were circling overhead, with five in the air at one stage. Stonechat led us along the path, and out at sea razorbill and guillemot were bobbing about in the swell. Fulmar and herring gull had taken over large areas of the cliffs and oystercatchers were strutting about on the slaty ledges offshore.
After another strenuous coastal walk we took to the car and did the tourist bit for a while. Again buzzard and red kite were flying over the car. When we stopped in to see a bridge at the local reserve which has been placed in memory of a family member we found that a tree had fallen across it so a bit of volunteering with a saw and pair of loppers was in order. Labours over, it was back for a quick tea and then off to the local for some welsh ale and an impromptu jamming session with the local male voice choir and musical talents from the village.
My next stop was back in Bristol, where the main additions to my sightings were finally catching up with yellowhammer; finding a blue tit nest and both green woodpecker and great spotted woodpecker nests the latter with very noisy fledglings. There was also an emergence of banded demoiselles by the River Avon. We also saw the nest of small tortoiseshell caterpillars beside the river in a huge nettle patch (see Gallery).
So there it is, a few days away, some lovely experiences in a beautiful part of the country and now its back to Kent and our Group trip to Sevenoaks Reserve (KWT) in the morning. Can’t wait.
A big thanks to Malcolm for all the identification!