Sunday, 6 June 2010

Brecon Beacons, baby birds and camping

As summer is in full flow, the countryside is abound with birds busily collecting food for chicks, fledgelings are leaving their nests, country lanes are filled with flowers of every colour.....and I was fortunate enough to take in these wonders in rural Wales last weekend when I stayed with friends near Hay on Wye. Camping on a beautiful farm with highland cattle (and 3 week old calves), rolling hills and birdsong everywhere, it was a delight to be away and out of mobile phone reception! Birds which are declining across the UK were doing well in this valley - singing redstarts, spotted flycatcher, curlews, lapwings, cuckoo, little owl, stock doves along with tawny owls, red kites and buzzards were all around! I even heard a tawny owl calling at 12pm! Birds had nests everywhere - I found a chaffinch nests with four almost-ready to fledge babies and the next day a fledgling goldfinch which I managed to ring! Its siblings were nearby in the hedge! On the Sunday we went to Hay on Wye Festival - a hazy day of culture, marquees, talks and sunshine!

At the end of this week I finished my second week at the learning officer for the Bristol Dinosaur Project at the University of Bristol. I've had a really great transition, meeting lovely people and enjoying getting my head down and preparing for the Festival of Nature in Bristol next weekend. I'll be there representing the project with a brilliant activity for families as well as taking families on a wildlife boat tour of the harbour and chairing a 'dream job' session where children can find out more about how to get into their favourite job.

On Saturday I joined BBC Radio Bristol and presenter Faye Dicker at the Springwatch Wild Day Out in Cadbury Heath, answering listener's wildlife questions for an hour. The afternoon was spent enjoying time with friends in my dive club with a BBQ followed by an evening out.

Today I've had an early start, getting to Craig Cerrig Gleisiad in the Brecon Beacons with Mike to look for ring ouzels. At 8.30am it was already hot and before I had even got out of the car a beautiful singing tree pipit was serenading from a nearby tree. It took some work, but after a good walk we found some ring ouzels along with a spotted flycatcher, pied flycatcher, plenty of willow warblers, a cuckoo and a male bullfinch. On our way back we stopped off near Abergavenny and caught up with some whinchats, stonechats and a very rare warbler normally found on the Spanish Islands called a Marmora's warbler. We snatched some good views and heard its lovely song before it flew off into the heather!

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