Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Thursday, 22 April 2010

OK Who stole the collecting can?

Yesterday I wrote about visiting the lovely St John's School in Kenilworth. What I didn't say is that someone stole the collecting can off the front of my bike whilst I was watching The Second Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers marching in Kenilworth. The bike was chained to the cycle rack outside the town's library just behind me.

I've reported this to the police but I know what chances there are of recovery. I'd like the can back at least. Ladies at Slimbridge worked hard decorating it.

OK, back to the tour.

When I last had the chance to update the blog, other than yesterday, I was on the way to the Pembrokeshire Islands; Grassholm and Ramsey. Well, after visiting a dear friend [Gloria and her partner Ian and sister Michelle] I eventually got to Marloes and then Martin Haven and caught the boat to Grassholm. It was a fast boat, skippered by Annie. Even from 10 miles away one could see that half the island was white. That whiteness was thousands of nesting gannets; 40,000 plus nesting pairs. Also saw a few hundred puffins, and good numbers of guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, shags and kittiwakes. Peregrine and chough were seen around Skomer on the way back. Cycling towards Marloes, met Andy Davies and family. Andy's a local photographer who is going to start taking people onto the island of Skomer for photography workshops. Google his name for more info.

No sign of the green-winged teal but not too upset as I've already had one this year. Was upset though after the Villa / Chelsea semi final where once again a referee's 'bottling it' decisions influenced the outcome. Penalty should have been given and John Terry should have been off. When will the football authorities have the integrity to bring in extra assistance for the referees?

Away from all that disappointment, it was lovely to chat with a family from Kingswinford - hello Viera and Clive!

11th April 2010

A night sleeping in the hide at Marloes Mere [I know how to live it up], then up at 5.30am to see what migrants were around.

11 white wagtails, 2 male wheatear, chiffs and willow warblers with about 100 sand martins and a few swallows.

These were at Marloes Mere together with the 16 Greenland whitefronts that had been here for sometime and a couple of chough [169].

Walked around the headland at Martin Haven and saw 3 more pairs of chough, c. 200 puffins on the sea towards Skomer and a pair of ravens sky tumbling together. [170]

The boat to Skomer was smooth on a flat sea. Strange how the Spring I asked for arrived and now the weather is becalmed by this large anticyclone.
Met Jim, an ex volunteer of Skomer who's stories and advice was interesting; talk of 'shearwater' nights and short-eared owls, gull colony numbers drastically reduced and bluebells.
Went off alone for a while to circumnavigate the island anti-clockwise. Beautiful place but I've got to go back when I've booked accommodation for the night there. Amy, one of the summer wardens told how they'd counted thousands of puffins in the morning before the visitors arrived on the boat. Now there were just a few around on the sea, at the bottom of superb steep cliffs. What the island must look like in May is another reason for returning, for that's when the bluebells are in flower.

Back to Marloes in the late afternoon but still no sign of the GW teal. Instead the whitefronts, the white wagtails, chough, wheatear and my only stonechat of the day were seen.

Comfort this evening, stayed at the Youth Hostel that right next to the mere.

OK more days to catch up on but time now for another school visit - Priors Field in Kenilworth.

[Just in case you're interested now on 175 bird species for the year. Almost on target to break the non-motorised year list record by seeing all the regular birds. Can I see/find any rarities that will get me closer to my dream [Impossible Dream?] of 300, time will tell.]

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