Remember when I wrote that we’d only ever seen Marbled White’s in England prior to our discovery at Whiteford? Lies all lies. Due to what I can only blame on old age it had completely slipped my mind that last year we’d stumbled across loads of the things literally just down the road. As we were on a long cycle ride the plan had been to return with the camera at a later date and do a proper explore but, well you know what happens to best laid plans. Still, there’s no time like the present for righting a wrong so a couple of weeks ago we returned and virtually from the get go couldn’t help but stumble over Marbled White’s such were their number. Of course that doesn’t mean they were necessarily playing ball when it came to photography but after an hour or so toiling in the heat I finally got the result I was after.
So where then is this place? Well if you’d been driving through Swansea in 1996 you very likely had it to blame for the closure of the M4 as that was the year the old colliery tip here caught fire. Left idle since the closure of Brynlliw it continued to burn for an astonishing three years until a legal case finally forced the Coal Authority to act. In the meantime residents were left to endure acrid fumes and thick layers of dust coating their properties. There’s a fascinating article on BBC news here from the time. Reading that it’s hard to believe we’re talking about the same place but it’s remarkable what a lot of landscaping and mother nature can achieve. Just look at it now.
The lush meadows were alive with insect life with yet more Six-spot Burnet moths and umpteen other day flying species which I didn’t get chance to identify. Overhead we had both Red Kite and Buzzard at close range whilst the scrubby vegetation held a Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff and several Stonechats. We also caught sight of what we believe was a juvenile Green Woodpecker but it disappeared before we could get a better view. In such surroundings I decided that a challenge was in order and set ourselves the relatively ambitious target of seeing and photographing ten butterfly species before the heat forced us to retreat. How did we do? Judge for yourself.
For anyone numerically challenged I can confirm that there are only eight species there and of them the Common Blue barely counts given its sorry state. I’m amazed it could still fly. Even so not a bad haul but what did surprise me was a complete lack of Speckled Woods along the wooded boundaries. All that’s done however is encourage me to try again. Indeed having read up a little on some of the other butterfly species which can be found in our local area I’m beginning to think that 2018 may even see us going for a year list. Now there’s something I never thought I’d be saying!