Nightjars and a little night music

Throughout the clear-felled forests of Wales, nightjars are regularly dispersed; monitoring of the breeding population has demonstrated that their numbers appear to be steadily increasing, probably due to the changing climate. Whilst this summer has been, in large part, a cold and wet exception, the warming world provides better feeding conditions as the nightjars hunt…

Pembrokeshire coast

The coastal grasslands and scrub and especially the earth banks that form the field boundaries are flower rich with a purple pink palette of thrift, thyme, English stonecrop kidney vetch and lesser centuary amongst the bracken, gorse and bell heather. The unimproved pastures are grazed by sheep and the better grasslands hold dairy cattle. A…

The Welsh Marches

A unique patchwork of fields rolls over the valleys around Church Stoke. The farms are mixed; winter wheat, rye grass silage fields, and pastures grazed by sheep, and dairy and beef cattle, but the overriding impression is of fields of green. The intensive agriculture means the fields no longer hold many curlews and lapwings but…

Shropshire hills, mires and mosses

The rolling landscape around Churchstoke on the border between Shropshire and Powys is a mix of green fields and woodlands except for some steep-sided landmarks like Roundton and Corndon Hills where acid grassland, bracken and gorse remain. Most of the valleys are drained and improved with monocultures of rye grass and arable crops but a…

Curlew country

A weekend in the spring sunshine and a cold east wind helping my old friend Tony Cross colour-ring curlew and dippers in Wales and Welsh Marches. Male curlews are highly territorial so they respond to a playback of their effervescent bubbling call alongside a stuffed curlew (inappropriately called ‘stuffy’) placed by a net and we…

Llyn Brenig and Llyn Bugeilyn

7th and 8th July 2018 On the way to the Elenydd mountains to check a merlin’s nest on the edge of a forest of Sitka spruce that has sadly failed, we stop at a small village hall to try to catch breeding swifts.  There are perhaps 10-15 pairs and they come and go flying in…

Elenydd Meadows and Woodlands

10th June 2018 From the roadside, the hay meadows at Hirnant Farm (Caeau Hirnant) on the winding road along Craig Goch Reservoir are a rare picture of summer colour; yellow with rough hawkbit, bird’s foot trefoil, yellow rattle and buttercup, white with pignut and eyebright and dashed purple with red clover and marsh orchids. The…

Elenydd

21st – 23rd April The Elenydd mountains are an empty landscape of soft grassland plateaus cut by deep, bracken-clad valleys; the myriad small streams feed the Cothi, Elan, Teifi, Tywi and Ystwyth rivers. The highest plateaus are capped with blanket bog and mires full of sedge, cotton grass and Sphagnum fill the shallow depressions. These uplands are…