#30DaysWild - Grass Snake and the Worm

Friday, June 29, 2018 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


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.

With just two days left in the challenge though I thought it well worth braving the stifling heat of my home office to bring you our final wild acts. Today’s kicked off earlier than expected with easily the biggest Grass Snake I’ve ever seen. There I was minding my own business and not paying the greatest of attention to my surroundings (trying to solve a coding issue will do that to a person) when out of the corner of my eye I caught movement where there would normally be none. It only took a moment to realise that what I’d initially taken to be a stick blowing in the breeze was in fact a snake, coincidentally the exact same time it took for the snake to consider its options and decide to plough ahead on its journey regardless. Cue mad fumbling’s on my part as I reached for my phone and proceeded to take chase, unable to see the screen and thus not sure it was even pointing in the right direction. Quite what anyone watching might have thought I shudder to think but this was one of those moments which I simply couldn’t let slip but oh to have had a proper camera at hand. As a result please excuse the low resolution of this video clip.


Needless to say the snake had a distinct speed advantage as I tried to retain a degree of dignity and size wise was easily a metre in length. With my previous Grass Snake encounters languishing in single digits this was a well overdue find and just goes to show that no matter where you are, mother nature always has the capacity to surprise and thrill.

Perhaps understandably I had a real spring in my step for the remainder of the afternoon and with another baking hot evening ahead decided that a trip to the coast was just what we needed. Step up Rhossili which even in its sun scorched state manages to impress despite over a decade of visits.

P1150888 - Rhossili

Walking the cliff edge out towards Worm's Head was an absolute delight. Off to our left the unmistakeable song of Skylarks rang out from newly restored meadows whilst our right was a succession of magnificent vistas, each twist and turn opening up new angles onto this special landscape.

P1150894 - Rhossili

Something I certainly hadn't been expecting to see however was a pair of Dogfish swimming just beneath the surface, the first I've ever seen alive as opposed to the washed up by-catch which is sadly the fate awaiting many of these creatures. Further out brief glimpses of a hunting Porpoise were tantalising but star of the show undoubtedly has to go to the family of Kestrels which were noisily making their presence felt along the cliffs. There's a regular pair here most years and this time it looks as though they've successfully fledged three youngsters, all strong flyers already but it seems not that keen to forego the possibility of a free meal. The trio were harrying their parents relentlessly but each time the adult birds would relocate to a different perch, often only grabbing a few minutes peace before being found once more. With the birds distracted all I needed to do was stand still as invariably one or other would soon rock up nearby, sometimes only a stones throw away.

P1150902 - Kestrel, Rhossili

P1150910 - Kestrel, Rhossili

Other avian delights included a lone Gannet which followed the coast right into the bay before heading for deeper waters where we watched it make several dives. There must have been plenty of fish out there too as we saw several leap clear of the water attracting a small flock of Common Gulls in the process. Not a wise move guys. It was also nice to see a few small flocks of Manx Shearwater passing through, only threes or fours but the most we've seen this year thus far. Back on land the flourishing Gorse held the usual assortment of Dunnocks and Linnets as well as this rather smart looking Stonechat. What a handsome chap.

P1150922 - Stonechat, Rhossili

By now the sun was making its final descent towards the horizon yet temperatures remained well above twenty Celsius. What a bizarre month of weather it's been but as long as evenings like this are the result, you'll certainly not find me complaining.

P1150919 - Worms Head

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