Pembrokeshire Camping - Grassholm, Gannets and Dolphins

P1160226 - Grassholm Gannets
We had a couple of unexpected visitors on our second morning camping in Pembrokeshire. First up was a Fox which ambled into our field, sniffed a post, then promptly left. Emma got great views but as I was deeply ensconced within my sleeping bag by the time I’d broken free it was far too late. No such issues with our second guest however which we were able to watch for some time as it hopped its way ever so slowly towards us. Quite where this Toad was heading is anyone’s guess but I carefully moved it into some nearby long grass where it would be safe as we broke camp.

Pembrokeshire Camping - St Justinian's to Porthselau

It seems like an absolute age since we last spent a night under canvas so straight from work on Friday we packed the car and headed west. Over the years we’ve stayed at a number of campsites in Pembrokeshire including one on the cliffs above Fishguard which although offering stunning views does have the drawback of being a tad exposed. Taking down a tent in the early hours thanks to gale force winds is one experience I’m not all that keen to repeat. Since then we’ve always looked for more sheltered locations in which to lay our heads and none fits the bill better than Brandy Brook just outside Roch. Nestled deep in a wooded valley it’s a place of serene calm and beauty, no more so than when you’re the only residents as we found ourselves to be on this occasion. It only took a few minutes to get our tent pitched and then there was nothing for it but to lie back and listen to the sounds of country life unfolding. From a mature tree nearby I could hear at least one Nuthatch calling whilst overhead both Red Kite and Buzzard soared only to be overshadowed by a Sparrowhawk passing along the hedgerow behind us. Butterflies danced their way across the grass and on the sun soaked fields opposite we watched a flock of sheep go about their business. Or at least they had been sun soaked until a bank of cloud rolled in dropping the temperature noticeably and offering a rare respite from the blazing sun. In two minds as to if it was worth venturing out on the off chance of a sunset we were in the end glad that we did. Somehow, no matter the weather, Newgale never manages to disappoint.

P1150937 - Newgale Sunset

Pencarnan Pied Crow

We’re just back from an outstanding weekend in Pembrokeshire, two days which saw us walking miles of coast path, watching Manx Shearwaters returning to their burrows and sitting just inches away from bow riding Common Dolphins. To say that we enjoyed ourselves would be an understatement and perhaps unsurprisingly I’ve got lots to share over the coming days. To kick off though let’s travel to Pencarnan campsite just north of St David’s, a gorgeous setting currently playing host to this chap.

P1160071 - Pied Crow, Pembrokeshire

Now depending on how closely you follow avian events this bird will either spark a pang of recognition or leave you scratching your heads. The former group will know it as the Pied Crow which first made landfall on these shores back in June, spending a week or so enjoying fish and chips in Cromer way over on the east coast. From there it moved across to Clevedon and on Wednesday last week turned up outside a caravan in Pembrokeshire. Not a bad little journey and one which has allowed plenty of people across the country to connect although it has to be said, not without a small degree of controversy. Being such an approachable individual inevitably raises questions as to origin with some calling this out as an escaped captive bird. Others favour a ship assisted arrival from the species’ native southern Africa. For what it's worth I didn’t really care and as we were in the area anyway it was a no-brainer to pop along for a look.

#30DaysWild - Paddle From St Brides to Martin's Haven

Yesterday was one of those truly special days where everything falls into place to produce memories which last a lifetime.

We were up early, at least by our standards, and by eight had the kayaks loaded and strapped down without too much fuss. Given that we last took them out a little under twelve months ago I put this down either to a fluke or, less likely, that we kind of know what we're doing by now. The rest of our gear including paddles, life-jackets and paddles had been packed the night before so it was just a case of adding food and drink before we hit the road for our date with high tide. The drive over to Pembrokeshire was surprisingly smooth and devoid of traffic and as we pulled into St Brides I immediately knew that we'd made the right choice. Spread out before us the sea was a tropical blue rarely associated with this part of the world, not quite mirror smooth but with swell at an absolute minimum. A light breeze was keeping temperatures in check helped no end by the sweltering thirties of the past week having dropped to a much more bearable twenty one. It only took us a few minutes to get kitted and down to the waters edge, eager to be on our way.

#30DaysWild - Grass Snake and the Worm

Well it seems that my plan to daily blog our #30DaysWild adventures this June have turned out to be a little more sporadic than I’d originally anticipated. I couldn’t help but continue to put effort and countless hours into our DIY campervan conversion (a full update coming your way very soon) which when combined with our first proper heatwave in many years has simply left me with little time, or indeed desire, to log onto the computer and write. Take not this lack of digital communication however as a sign that we’ve been slacking or indeed that we’ve failed in our previously stated goal of using this month to reconnect with nature. Far from it. Each day has seen us out and about in these sweltering conditions whether it be for a lunchtime stroll, spontaneous day trip to mid Wales or indeed the now nightly ritual of watering our fledgling wildflower meadow. Even when working on the van we’ve been in the company of screaming Swifts, vocal Buzzards and all of our garden regulars.

#30DaysWIld - Patch Birding and Sowing Wildflowers

Each year I'm always caught off guard by the rapid greening of our landscape. After months of nothing but barren browns it's as if we wake one morning to discover that the decorators have paid a visit and given the whole place a fresh lick of paint, green the dominant colour of course but with details picked out here and there in pink, yellow and blue. Nowhere have I found this rapid transformation more impactful than on my own local patch, an area which I've visited significantly less often this year than I'd have liked. Last time we walked this way for instance, en-route to the fallen trig, there was still a cold wind blowing and our first Swallows had just arrived. Last night numbers had swelled considerably and joining the aerial display I was delighted to see a pair of Swifts passing high above, their screaming calls surely the sound of summer and one of my top wild experiences to seek out at this time of year. I just can't help but smile every time I hear them. Perhaps they too were enjoying this revitalised landscape.

P1150577 - Cwm Dulais

Over on Gopa Hill I paused for a while beneath the deep shade of ancient Beech trees to watch a Blue Tit dart amongst their great boughs, its beak stuffed with a plump green caterpillar. Its reluctance to travel very far must have meant that a nest was nearby so I moved on, ragged plumage a sure sign that this adult was already working hard enough as it was. Higher up a glimpsed Willow Warbler tried to tempt me into a chase but I've learnt the hard way that I'm no match for these crafty passerines and besides, it was far too hot anyway.
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