At just under two weeks since my last patch outing I was determined to give the area a thorough going over on Sunday afternoon. The sun was shining but with a cold wind blowing across the valley I knew most of the birds would be kept well hidden, and indeed that proved to be the case. I did manage to add one new species to my tally however in the shape of at least two Redwing in trees near the old colliery site. To say I was pleased would be an understatement as they are the first I’ve seen up there since before November, and will most likely be the last until next winter. More common were the Robins of which three treated me to some extraordinary behaviour on Gopa Hill. I’d already stopped to watch them as seeing three birds in such close proximity at this time of year was bound to result in fireworks, but even I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. Two of the Robins flew at each other, locked feet and proceeded to tumble to the ground. There they maintained their embrace, each trying to peck at its opponent whilst attempting to retain the upper hand. Amazingly the third bird took this opportunity to land on a stick just above the battle from where it shouted god only knows what. The whole thing was slightly surreal and although true naturalists discourage anthropomorphism, I couldn’t help comparing it to a school yard brawl. In reality that analogy probably isn’t too far from the truth and I imagine the victor is pretty pleased with his new territory.
From the top of Bryn-bach-Common (which is still lacking in Yellowhammers despite much searching), the view looking across to Cefn Drum was spectacular as ever. For those who don’t know the area well, the large flat piece of land on the valley floor used to be the Graig Merthyr colliery up until its closure in the 1970’s. Since then the buildings have been cleared, shafts blocked and spoil tips removed, but the area remains a wasteland and an unfortunate draw to ne’er-do-wells. I was therefore quite interested to read recently that the Environment Agency are planning to build new water controls here to alleviate flooding in downstream Pontarddulais. However I hadn’t quite appreciated the full scale of their plans until I saw this planning notice which has recently gone up.
One key phrase stood out immediately; “creation of wetland habitat“. Now that sounded very interesting and depending on its scale could offer a real boost for biodiversity in the area. Sure it’ll be too late to have any impact on this years Patchwork Challenge, but in the future? This evening I’ve been trawling through the planning application in detail and I’ve got to say that I’m seriously impressed. Not only will the new wetland be a potential draw to wildlife but the intention is to also completely re-landscape that flat area with trees and extensive reseeding. Considering the last proposal I saw for here was a Halal meat factory, colour me seriously impressed.
Copyright remains with the original architects. Full details here, planning application 2012/1649.
The plans above show the rough details of the areas involved and I shall be keeping a close eye on progress in the coming months. I can’t imagine that they will receive any serious objections so the sooner they get going the better!
Of course with such a clear day it would have been remiss of me not to include a sunset. This one turned out to be a real belter including a fantastic new view looking across to Gopa Hill.