Saturday, 14 May 2016

Road trip - the second leg

The Safari did 233 miles on the first leg of our road trip down to south west Wales to meet up with our Extreme Photographer.
Road Trip is also a stirring song by fave band Runrig - have a listen

In that time we did the usual Buzzards v Kestrels count with the addition of Red Kites seeing as how we were going down the 'border' country and then through mid-Wales.
The results...Buzzards10, Kestrels 1, Red Kites 12 + c20 circling together near Aberporth (near the arrow above the 'LE' of WALES). A very poor show from the falcon in what was pretty good hovering weather conditions.
We count dead things too; on this leg 3 Badgers, 'only' 5 Hedgehogs and no Foxes. 5 Hedgehogs is 5 too many but a few years ago would have perhaps expected ten times that number they really are struggling now. Worst roadkill was a Barn Owl at the very start of the motorway section of our journey.
We didn't record much else, the most exciting things being Greater Stitchwort and Bluebells on the roadside until we past a short verge with a riot of Early Purple Orchids and then further south Red Campion began to appear on the verges.
Once we had reached Raf's place on the banks of Llys-y-Fran reservoir we took a pic of the car's number plate which we'd cleaned before setting off.
There's about 24 insects on there or a fraction over 1 bug every 10 miles - not good!
His place is awesome, a small cottage at the end of a farm track backing onto the woods around the reservoir. He has at least a couple of hundred bats in the loft and we had extraordinary views of a Long Eared Bat drinking from his pond. Our EP has an inkling that it could have been a Grey Long Eared Bat - now that would be a turn up for the books!!! A completely new roost was found very nearby only last year...he's on the hunt for a pic or two and a sonograph.
We thought his feeders were busy but he assures us they are very quite now. That said we had Goldfinches and Chaffinches aplenty, we even saw his Greenfinch once - it's the only one he's seen in Pembrokeshire and it only appeared recently. Blue, Great, Coal and a pair of Marsh Tits are regular the first two in good numbers as are Siskins. Nuthatches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers are always about as were three Jays and several greedy Jackdaws. It took ages for us to see any of his many Brown Rats and then only saw one but had great views of his cheeky Bank Vole.
A rummage round his pond was fascinating and doing a bit of lamping one evening found it full of Palmate Newts. We found a Toad that had died and was being eaten by a Slug - yuk! Diving Beetle larvae fed on Water Hog Lice and the Pond Skater kept attacking the Water Crickets but dropped them every time, couldn't get their beak through the crickets' stiff carapace?
He took us round his local woods and reservoir to the tunes of Blackcaps and Song Thrushes but despite the heat of the day there were precious few invertebrates to be seen, a Peacock butterfly being the top sighting. No drumming woodpeckers to reveal the presence of his recently heard Lesser Spotted variety.
Llys-y-Fran reservoir
Here's some pics of the scenic sites we visited mentioned on yesterdays' pics
Strumble Head
Whitesands Beach near St Davids
Driving at night between his place and our digs a few miles away we had an owl sp fly over the car and a very cute but bemused Fox cub which took ages to find its way off the lane, we're sure the locals would just have run it over but we waited patiently for it to find its way into the bottom of the hedge, it was very young and we did wonder where mum was.
We didn't have enough time to do Pembrokeshire justice and all too soon it was time to say our thank yous and goodbyes to our Extreme Photographer and hit the road again. 250 miles later we were at our next digs on the edge of Dartmoor National Park.
Not such good weather for this leg of the trip 6 Buzzards and no Kestrels or Red Kites. A 'Kestrel'-like thing flew through the roadside trees and over the car giving really poor views but it did have a more than a bit of Cuckoo about it. Dead stuff was represented by 3 Badgers and 'only' 1 Hedgehog. A solitary Jay was the only other entry into the notebook.
It was very much just an overnight journey breaker and we were surrounded by peace and quiet until the dawn chorus fired up complete with competing Tawny Owls.
The following morning we were on the road again on the last leg of our road trip down to Land's End.
The tallies...another poor day weather-wise 4 Buzzards, 1 Kestrel, no Kites. And the death, (thankfully) no Badgers, 1 Hedgehog and 1 Fox. Another Jay almost at our destination was again the only other entry in the notebook.
Where to next? We'll regale you with tales of the Cornish coast tomorrow - no Poldark though; sorry (He still can't scythe!).
In the meantime let us know who's got the biggest ears in your outback.

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