We’ve had some old friends visiting this weekend and whilst waiting for their arrival on Saturday morning we took the opportunity to spend a little time in our garden. Over the last eight years or so we’ve slowly been turning this comparatively small patch of land into a wildlife oasis and, although that work still continues, the fruits of our labours are already clear to see and hear. As soon as you step outside for instance it’s impossible not to notice the wealth of birdsong, nor indeed the variety of birds which visit and use the feeders here each day. From relative obscurity we now have at least one pair of Bullfinches virtually resident whilst Goldfinch numbers remain sufficiently high so as to be a constant danger of eating us out of house and home. Alas the same cannot be said for Greenfinches whose population remains in free fall. That one should choose this moment therefore to put in an appearance was more than well timed, the magic of 30 Days Wild already wending its way into our every day experiences.
One area of the garden we’ve particularly focussed on is trees and large shrubs, neither easy to accommodate within the confines of a small space. Even so we appear to have reached a happy balance with Hawthorn, Beech, Goat Willow, Apple and Hazel combining to provide cover and security for all our visitors. This has of course made photography that little more challenging but I’m sure we’ve all seen enough full frame images of our commoner species by now to last a lifetime.
On the fledgling front we’re still waiting for our first youngsters to show although sadly, once again, none will come from our own nest-boxes. For some reason the birds just don’t seem interested in them which may be as a result of so many natural sites being available close by. The Jackdaws for instance are continuing to make great use of our neighbours chimney pots whilst our own eaves are home to at least one House Sparrow nest whose occupants have become our early morning alarm call.
And that was where I had planned to end our wild exploits on day two of this challenge but with such gorgeous weather continuing to grace us with its presence it would have been rude not to make the most of it and head down to Gower. Destination of choice was Three Cliffs Bay but instead of walking in from Oxwich we parked up at Parc le Breos and followed Pennard Pill down towards the sea. With just the hint of a breeze keeping temperatures manageable I was in heaven, perfect lighting for a perfect day.
Toes suitably dipped we returned via Pennard Castle, on the way stumbling across a bush draped in the familiar sight of caterpillar web. These silk spun masterpieces provide protection for the sometimes thousands of inhabitants nestled within and are most often associated with a group of moths called Small Ermine’s. There are eight separate species within this grouping and I believe ours to be Orchard Ermine which particularly favour Blackthorn and Hawthorn. Fascinating stuff and well worth keeping an eye out for at this time of year.
There were more discoveries to be made up at the castle itself where a family of Blue Tits is currently being raised within the tiniest of cracks half way up the remains of a tower. Even from some distance we could hear the calling chicks within but they were so deeply ensconced that views were impossible.
We finished off with an evening of food, games and good times, a fitting end to what had been an outstanding day.