Best of April and May


Where did it all go wrong? April was full of promise.

The 16 year-old Red Kite with the wing tags – a familiar above our garden in the winter – was back on the nest just up the road and I was welcome to go and watch them.

I was back with my beloved deer at Dinefwr Park where I found a vole and another kites nest.

The summer-house cum bird hide in the garden was progressing well. We had redpolls on the feeders, a potential Sandpiper nest on a shingle bank in the Towy, goslings on a nearby lake and a third kites nest,  and we could travel within Wales.

The turn of the month set an ominous precedent – eating my lunch sitting on a log in the rain near the deserted service station at Aust with the old Severn Bridge looming through the mist. The tagged kite had gone, the nest deserted and the forecast was set to wet.

Although I always long for the prime month of spring, there are tensions behind the magic –  collateral damage from the explosion of life which is May. The scent of Hawthorne blossom, for example, reminds me of the stress of revising for vital examinations when I was a student. In the natural world there is so much happening at once that disappointment is inevitable. Yet again I have failed to find the nests I hoped to catch on camera and missed the best shots I might have achieved! I have not walked the back lanes and mountains of our home, and the garden upbraids me for neglecting it.

Still, despite the rain and the cold there were some magical moments.Dinefwr Park in Llandeilo is famous for its ancient trees, and I particularly liked this “elephant tree”:

My volunteer job is now quite different. In the years BC (Before Covid) my task was to check the boundary fence, and my self-education was studying the behaviour of the deer, in the hope that I could make a strong case for a big reduction in numbers. Now, with new fencing all round, the boundary is secure. Deer numbers have been reduced and are set to be reduced even further. Now my task for the Spring and Summer is to record all the birds I see – even the very common ones like this nuthatch.  Since birds are “indicator species” this will give us a good idea of what is missing from the biodiversity of the park.

One of the highpoints of May was meeting fellow bird-blogger Blair Jones and his friends at Goldcliff Lagoons, near Newport. We shared the magical sight of hundreds of swallows hawking for insects in the cool rain.(Blair is on the left). (Technical note: this shot was taken with a 400mm lens at 1/2000ths of a second, f4.5  and ISO 4000. Note the shallow depth of field, with the left wing of the lower bird out of focus! )

I also got to meet members of my extended family in Corsham, Wiltshire.  I took some pictures but I was still in Nature Mode and forgot that people can assume strange expressions when being photographed! Here is one I got right: grandson Charlie with friend Stan and daughter’s partner Dave in ex-wife Jan’s kitchen:

Just as I was leaving I spotted one of Corsham’s famous peacocks by the side of the road: At the end of the month I went very early to retrieve my pop-up hide from its temporary riverside home and recorded the scene: CODA

Following my reply to a comment by Gaynor Jones, here is one of the nicest of many old houses in the Goldcliff area of the Gwent Levels:

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2 Responses to Best of April and May

  1. gaynor says:

    Lovely pics. Love May. Love the Levels, fascinating area to explore and virtually unknown. It is one of those thin places

  2. twynog1 says:

    Thanks Gaynor – yes, even the drained parts of the Gwent Levels are so different. One minute you are in industrial Newport or on the M4 and the next you’re in fenland – long straight roads which then turn at right angles, and some of the smaller roads tipping and buckling from subsidence as the peat dries out. Thank goodness the proposed motorway through them was stopped. I’ll post a picture of my favourite house in Goldcliff.

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