Sunday saw us taking on another lengthy walk starting from Rhossili Church before walking the length of the beach to Burry Holme and on around the coast to the Blue Pool. This is a supposedly bottomless rock pool that looked anything but. The return journey took us back along the beach to the campsite at Llangennith at which point we headed up to the top of Rhossili Downs and the highest point on the Gower peninsular.
The House Sparrows around Rhossili Church were in fine voice and have clearly sensed the imminent arrival of Spring as several of the males were seen to be carrying nesting material from the surrounding vegetation into the churchyard. I couldn’t work out where they were building the nests exactly but I am sure this will become evident in time. The steep descent to the beach also gave us some superb views of a hunting Kestrel over the dead bracken. In fact we saw this bird on numerous occasions throughout the day as it patrolled the whole of the coastal section of Rhossili Downs. The best views were had when we were above the bird which I think is always the finest way to view Kestrels.
Down at Burry Holme we were accosted by a Rock Pipit who seemed quite put out at our arrival. There was also a pretty sizable gathering of various Corvids who seemed to be enjoying playing in the wind currents coming up off the sea. We also bumped into our first caterpillar of the year although I don’t know of what species as I rather foolishly forgot to take a photo of it. This may have been because I was preparing to tackle the ascent to the top of Rhossili Downs. It seems that no matter how fit I am the walk up is always an effort. The view at the top though was as good as ever as the photographs below show. These were taken looking back towards Llangennith and Burry Holme.
If you have been regularly reading this blog then you may have seen my post concerning the grass fires that have been engulfing Gower. The first of these started just over a week ago and covered 100 hectares of Rhossili Downs. I was pretty keen to see what the damage was like as I had only really discovered the beauty of this particular area late last year. I had a great encounter with a Woodchat Shrike there and it was also the only place that I had found where you could be pretty much guaranteed to see Yellowhammers. As a result I hoped that the damage wouldn’t be too severe. Unfortunately it was. The whole of the Downs has pretty much gone up in smoke, coming perilously close to one particular house in the process. The pictures below show the extent of the damage.
As expected there was almost no life to be found up there amongst the blackened ground apart from several Crows living up to their sinister nature. I have no idea how long it will take the ground to recover but I can be pretty sure that we wont be seeing the Heather in flower this year. Feeling pretty down we walked the couple of miles up to the highest point when a very distinctive call caught my attention. What was that floating just off the edge? Yes it was the first Chough of the year! Moments later a second joined the party before both swept off. I can’t tell you how glad I was to see that they were at least still in the area as I was worried that the events of the last week or so would have scared them off or worse killed them. There was further good news back at Rhossili where two very new lambs were just getting to their feet and starting to suckle.
It sounds corny but those two events really lifted my spirits. It just goes to show that even though things may not be going well in one place, nature has a way of battling on. I shall keep a close eye on Rhossili Downs at it will interesting to see how things develop.