The unstoppable sea

On Saturday, the day is warm with a southerly breeze and the oystercatchers gather on their familiar stretch of shoreline at the far end of the ness of shells that gives the place its name. Another spit near the blockhouse is filled with a tight knit flock of grey plover, dunlin and knot. On the…

The edge of the Stiperstones

On the moorland edge under the bare grey Stiperstones, the hand-reared curlews that have been held since hatching in a netted enclosure are now released. The birds either fly off in a rush or walk slowly out into the field before heading off, a few keep walking and stay in the rushy pasture on the…

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…

Feeding on the falling tide

On the Medway at Otterham Creek, a handful of the black- headed gulls are beginning to get their dark chocolate brown heads while the majority remain fixed in winter plumage. The gulls sit in roosts and some paddle across the bare mud; they never seem to have to work too hard for their food. The…

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…

A Few Jars

The nightjars in the clear fells within the conifer forest are slowly being located. Late on a damp, cool night, heavy with cloud, suffocated by the humid air and an irritation of midges, we immediately find one of the four radio-tagged males. Tony knows he is likely to be sheltering the first brood, with the female somewhere…