During September last, I had a holiday in South Wales. It was arranged by the RSPB in partnership with Just Go Holidays. A brochure was sent with my Birds Magazine earlier in the year and had locations around Britain, all based in areas where RSPB Reserves could be visited. I was picked up in Maidstone by taxi and driven to Bristol where I boarded the coach.
I was apprehensive about who I would be sitting beside on the long journey and each day thereafter. I need not have worried, the company was excellent throughout, we were all on the same wavelength and present because of our interest in birds and wildlife.
On the first full day of the trip we were taken to Ramsey Island where we were met by the husband and wife team of wardens. After a briefing about the island and the work of the RSPB there they advised us on various options for walking around the island and supplied a map. The island holds the largest colony of breeding grey seals in southern Britain. The highlight for me was watching four choughs whizzing fearlessley and circling low overhead uttering their “chiach chiach” call. Two ravens called “croak croak” from the cliff tops. I was surprised to see a little owl perched on a stone wall. It was unusually grey compared to the more familiar brownish colour we are used to in the south east. Perhaps an evolutionary adaptation to blend in with the grey walls where they breed.
Returning to the mainland on a small boat we saw many grey seals on the shoreline, and porpoise out at sea. Overhead a gannet flew low to acknowledge our presence, and a peregrine skimmed by at a distance. Upon landing by the beach we had a long steep climb up steps to reach the cliff top.
The next day the coach took us to the Brecon Beacons where we visited a red kite feeding station. At 3.00 pm a group of 6-10 kites circled around the food but did not land, apparently because of the clicking cameras from others not in our group. Kites and buzzards are common throughout South Wales.
While homeard bound we stopped to have a look at RSPB Newport Wetlands, a vast area on the Severn estuary, comprising marshland and a long shoreline.
Our party of 35 visited habitats of island, sea, mountain and marsh. The general opinion of my fellow passengers was that the holiday was good value and they would book again on a similar trip, I would thoroughly recommend it.