(And the Teifi – see below)
The swallows are lining up along the wires. The Swifts are screaming round the roofs one day and the next are a happy memory. What few cuckoos were around in July have long gone. Summer is winding down and the summer birds are heading south.
Not yet the Ospreys though. Before setting off again for Machynlleth and the Dyfi Osprey Project I checked their “live feed” from the nest platform. At least one of the young, in full shiny adult plumage, was still there so I packed the van on Sunday and left at 6 on Monday morning. Breakfast was in the Co-op car park in Lampeter and I got to the site well before it opened at 10. I was here to prove that I could get really good pictures of these spectacular birds from 200 metres away, which is the distance from the Observatory tower to the nest platform. My last batch in late July were spoilt by heat haze; no danger of that on Monday. It was warm but cloudy.
It seems likely that at least one of the parents has gone, and now that the young birds are expert flyers and capable of catching their dinner, there is less to keep them at the nest site. When I arrived there was no sign of them- just a crow, looking for fishy scraps.
Half an hour went by with no sign of them. A few holiday makers with borrowed binoculars were looking disappointed. Then as if by magic they were there – two of them, and I was able to get my pictures.
Job done and it was barely lunch time. In the afternoon I set off to explore Cwm Einion – the Anvil Valley. It was once a metal mining site and the steep little road led up from the restored water-powered iron works at Furnace. It’s a curious place, full of hazards like rocks, moss, bees and frogs:
I had another plan for Tuesday morning so I stayed at the friendly little campsite at Furnace. The plan involved another early start and a long walk carrying my big lens, camera, tripod, camouflage netting, a flask and some snacks. I spent two and a half hours crouched on an uncomfortable stool but it was worth it. I knew that Ospreys could catch large fish, but I didn’t know they could also hover.
To help cover the expense of the trip I also planned to visit three more places, all favourite destinations visited many times in the past: Teifi Wetlands at Cilgeran near Cardigan, Ramsey Island and Skomer Island. On the way South I caught the sunset at a campsite near Sarnau, and felt a twinge of envy at this group of happy campers:
I was not expecting to see much at Cilgerran, especially as the early morning stint coincided with low tide, and I was right, but I did meet and chat to this young woman who was quite inspiring: CTWildlife – Wildlife artwork and photography I was also astonished to see the new willow sculpture at the visitor centre across the valley – top picture.
Another interesting conversation was with plant grower and friend Charlie Warner who lives just outside Cilgerran. He was full of enthusiasm for his plants but my pictures of them were more successful than my attempts at catching his most characteristic expressions. More practice with people pictures needed.
I arrived at another favourite campsite – St. Justinian outside St. Davids and the jumping off point for Ramsey. (The name is a reflection of the Viking influence on western coastal areas, and comes from Hravns Eye – Raven’s Island. St. Justinian, who was confessor to St. David, lived on the island.) It was heaving with people. I have never seen so many holiday makers in the whole area let alone this little hamlet. Extra campsites had sprung up all round to cope with the unprecedented demand. I wonder how many of these new converts to UK travel are trying, like me, to squeeze out the last drops of diesel-fuelled pleasure before the reality of fossil fuel restrictions kick in? Or do most of them feel they have a right to go where they please when they please? They already know they have to book accommodation, but how long before we have to book parking spaces? How long before barriers go up on the roads to Cornwall as they have this year on the streets of Venice? How long before we realise that road travel is a privilege, not a right?
Still, it was a glorious evening and everyone was happy – at least until the clammy breath of the sea mist cooled down the barbecues and brought out the coats. There was no hurry tomorrow – because it was a Spring tide, the boat for the island couldn’t leave until Noon. The mist drifted away and I was content to watch the spectacular sunset and some other watchers.