Exploring the Thames and Severn Canal

A circular walk taking in the Thames and Severn Canal.

Snowdon - 30 Years in the making

After almost thirty years of trying we finally get perfect conditions for an ascent of Snowdon.

Juvenile Herring Gulls at Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle has had a few extra guests of late and they were putting on a great display.

Malham Cove

A spring visit to Malham Cover delivers Redstarts, Wheatear and nesting Peregrine Falcons.

Sunset over Worm's Head

A perfect sunset over Worm's Head on Gower.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Trig Hunting on St David's Head

A couple of weeks ago we dragged our tent out of hibernation and headed over to Pembrokeshire for a weekend of relaxation. Of course the word relaxation means different things to different people but for us it involved two days of walking and exploration. From our base on a small farm near Brandy Brook we were well positioned for the coastal path and spent Saturday along a new section (for us) between Solva and Pointz Castle. The scenery was its usual stunning and varied self but dull and overcast conditions meant the camera remained largely unused. That's not to say there wasn't plenty of wildlife about however with a couple of Choughs and a family of four Peregrine Falcons both putting on superb flight displays along the cliffs. Come Sunday it was all change again with blazing sunshine and warm winds returning. Having checked the map we decided on a visit to St David's Head where a previously un-bagged trig point atop Carn Llidi seemed a worthy target for the day. Last time we were out this way we somehow managed to circumnavigate the entire hillside but never actually made it to the top. Definitely an omission in need of correction.

P1080531 - St Davids Head

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Patchwork Passage

My outings around our local patch this summer have been rather like my blogging activity of late - patchy at best. It was therefore a pleasant change to steal away for a couple of hours last Tuesday evening in an effort to catch up with proceedings. As it turned out I couldn't have timed things better with a large passage of birds really bumping up resident numbers. Chief of these were the huge number of House Martins that seemed to fill the entire valley, their white rumps being picked out a treat in strong sunlight. Numbers steadily increased as I walked further inland with the largest concentration being focused around the old colliery site.

P1080564 - Cwm Dulais

Back up on Bryn-bach-Common and another large influx, this time Linnets, were doing a slightly better job of posing for the camera. Much of the hundred plus flock were perched up on those infamous cables, a popular haunt for anything of interest passing through this particular area. Although my records are far from extensive I'm pretty sure that, like the House Martins, this is the largest single gathering of Linnets I've yet seen on patch.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Osprey at Llanrhidian Marsh, Gower

Living directly beneath a prime Osprey migration route you'd think that we'd have been simply drowning in sightings of them by now. Instead all I seem to have managed are a couple of very distant possibles from the north Gower coastline and a quite impressive list of near misses. Some of this misfortune has undoubtedly been down to my own inaction and never one to break the habit of a lifetime I've been sat in front of this computer all day despite my twitter feed informing me that another autumn Osprey has just rocked up off Llanrhidian Marsh. It was therefore with not a little scepticism that we drove across this evening, happy to catch some late summer rays if nothing else.

P1080671 - Llanrhidian Marsh, Gower

We parked up at the infamous humps and after interrogating a very smart female Wheatear for something a little rarer turned our attention towards the channel. Almost inevitably the tide was at its lowest but a scan across what little water there was soon picked up a large, dark bird patrolling back and forth. Holding the scope steady against a brisk westerly proved far from easy until the bird in question did us a great favour and landed on one of the numerous wooden posts. It only took a few moments to confirm the identification before settling back to enjoy what were easily my best views of a local Osprey to date. Even with the large distances involved I felt a record shot was necessary so top marks to the first person who can spot said bird in the photo below.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Royal International Air Tattoo - Up, up, up in the air!

So one day has turned into almost a week but that hasn't changed the level of enjoyment I've had looking through more photos from our weekend in the Cotswold's. As promised it's time for my second and final instalment focussing on the Royal International Air Tattoo 2014.

P1080330 - Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford
An acrobatic display from a Chinook helicopter is something that has to be seen to be believed. They are another aircraft that we see fairly regularly from home but those mundane flights do nothing to prepare you for the sheer manoeuvrability of these things. Vertical descents straight towards the ground are nerve wracking at the best of times, let alone in a helicopter.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Royal International Air Tattoo - Part 1

Anyone in the vicinity of RAF Fairford last Sunday can't have failed to notice the abnormally large volume of fighter aircraft overhead, and we were slap bang in the middle of it all. I am of course talking about the Royal International Air Tattoo, the worlds largest military airshow and the real reason for our trip across to the Cotswold's. I've attended several times previously and having witnessed such spectacles as Concord touching down a few meters away, the last ever flight (prior to its resurrection at least) of Vulcan XH558 and the unforgettable arrival of an American B-2 stealth bomber, expectations were high. As it turned out I wasn't to be disappointed and if you think these next couple of posts may be straying somewhat from my normally nature focussed content, rest assured that throughout every display we were accompanied by singing Skylarks and dashing Hares.

P1080201 - Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford
Being one of the first through the gates meant that we were able to get up close and personal with those aircraft on static display. Aerial acrobatics are all well and good but I love being able to see the small details on these aircraft, in particular the unique logos and paint jobs which are applied either as a whole unit or to individual planes.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Walk Along the Thames and Severn Canal

Saturday dawned hot and clear and it was to the sound of distant jet engines (a hint of approaching activities) that we set off to walk a section of the abandoned Thames and Severn Canal. Completed in 1789 it was conceived as part of the route from Bristol to London though it was never much of a success and was finally killed off by rail in 1927. It was perhaps ironic therefore that our approach took us along the trackbed of the similarly abandoned Midland and South Western Junction railway. Lasting until 1978 it now serves as a wildlife corridor whose proximity to the fledgling Thames provided a wealth of dragonflies and damselflies. I'll confess to not being much of an authority in this area but it was impossible to miss the stunning Beautiful Demoiselles, though only a considerably dampened shoe would have gained me a photo. Instead I concentrated on those species over drier land including this Common Blue Damselfly and Small Tortoiseshell.

P1080130 - Common Blue Damselfly

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