Carreg Cennen Castle - Cows and Clouds
Back to last Sunday for this one where my parents luck with the weather continued to prevail. Remember all that sun and blue sky of late? Gone. Instead we had low, thick cloud casting a gloom more reminiscent of winter than the heights of summer. The only thing spoiling that illusion was our dual friends heat and humidity. It proved sweaty in the extreme each time we tackled one of the numerous ascents on our circumnavigation of Carreg Cennen. At least the castle itself looked suitably moody and menacing perched atop its limestone outcrop.
The plan had been to spend some time finding and photographing butterflies which have proved previously numerous along this walk. The dull light pretty much put paid to that idea though with only a solitary Speckled Wood and a couple of Green-veined Whites on the wing. Fortunately birds aren’t as picky about their outings and just above the source of the Loughor we stumbled across an absolute gold mine. Here woodland gives way to open hillsides and, as on previous occasions this summer, we found this to be ideal habitat for Redstarts. There were at least three individuals present, one adult and two juveniles, although we found many more further along our route. Keeping them company was a very active family of Spotted Flycatchers, my first for several months and a new species for me in this locality. They were doing exactly what they do best high in the treetops and proved impossible to get a decent photograph of that didn’t consist of a distant and slightly obscured silhouette. The same could be said of the juvenile Green Woodpecker which was lurking deep in one of the stunted Rowan trees, its plumage an intriguing mix of half speckled grey and half green. It issued a brief yaffle as it skulked off further into cover but a great find nonetheless. Also about were commoner species including Great Tit, Blue Tit and Chaffinch plus a constant presence of Swallows overhead. Talking of Swallows there were huge numbers around the farm beneath Carreg Cennen, many if not all as a result of the numerous nests within nearby barns. Birds were continuously passing in and out, several still showing their gape which marked them out as this year’s offspring.
And now, some Cows.
The photogenic calf and pregnant female above were in a field with other similarly pregnant animals, one of which was in the early throws of labour. As a ‘townie’ this proved terribly exciting and I whipped out the camera to capture whatever happened next. Mistake. Turns out giving birth is not beautiful or photogenic in any way and in the end we were saved from the full gruesome spectacle as her contractions seemed to pass and she settled back down. What was interesting to observe however was that all the pregnant females were frequently bending their heads back as in my photo above. Could they perhaps have been listening for sounds of their calf’s within? Whatever the reason it was clear that there was still a long way to go so we left the herd to some privacy and continued on our way. Certainly an interesting diversion though and excuse enough for one of the best alliteration post titles ever to grace this blog.