At the end of a personally difficult and frustrating month, the weather gets silly. Well, it’s been a silly year in politics so why shouldn’t the weather join in? Does a few days of summer in February tell us anything? Yes I believe it does, but to most of us it’s a welcome break from the rain rather than a frightening indication of what’s to come. I’m almost past caring what happens on Brexit day. It’s all such a monumental waste of time.
My great camper van project has turned into a long string of monstrous garage charges as more and more things go wrong with the clapped out vehicle I was stupid enough to buy 2 years ago. Now the back doors have jammed shut. It’s taken 3 weeks to find someone able and willing to sort it out, and I’m still waiting for the parts to arrive.
There were some good things. The snow at the beginning of the month made for some dramatic landscapes further up our valley. This is the Dinas RSPB reserve – where I first made a connection to this area back in the 70s.
Birds are scarce here in the winter, but there is a ravens’ nest high up on the crags. They didn’t seem to be nesting yet at the beginning of the month, but February is when they start so that they can feed their chicks on all the baby birds hatching in April.
At Dinefwr Park the vegetation is at its lowest level and the deer need to be fed. I’ve been monitoring their behaviour, and find quite different patterns from what my reading had led me to expect among wild Fallow deer. In the wild the bucks keep away from the does in winter, but here, although the males stick together, they do also mix with at least some of the does. This is the interesting bit: is there a group of does who keep to the south-western part of the park, the sanctuary area where there is no public access? I’m fairly sure now that there is and that they are more wary of humans than the other group who mix with the bucks and live closer to people. It’s been difficult to get an accurate estimate of the total numbers in the park, so when I was helping Rhodri with putting feed-beet down for them I took some pictures . This is the only time the entire herd can be seen together and the results were surprising. According to the conservation plan there should be 130 deer. I printed off two pictures in monochrome, divided them into sections and carefully counted each section before adding them up for the total. One picture showed 191, the other 193. This means that there are at least 60 too many deer for the size of the park.
The otters, which had made my spells in the Kingfisher hide so exciting in January, seem to have gone. Apparently this is normal behaviour for otters who live a nomadic life when not breeding. They will spend a week or two in one place and then move on.
We had 5 year old grandson Arthur staying for a week which was quite a challenge! This was at Carreg Cennon Castle where some hot soup put new life into the oldies but was just another game for the youngster.
Another was the Red Kite feeding station at Llandeusant, where his short attention span persuaded me to leave earlier than I would have wished. I got some good sky pictures but not the dramatic action shots I’d hoped for. I didn’t mind. It was his day and I can always come again.
When the warm weather arrived so did the first bumble bees. I’d bought a book on these amazing creatures so was glad to catch this shot of this Buff Tailed queen on the first spring flowers of the year. The mites are not harmful and are simply hitching a ride.
While the good weather lasted, having worked out that I had enough water in the inaccessible tank at the back of the van, I grabbed a one night trip to the west coast, taking in Ynys-hir, Newport Pembs and Teifi Wetlands. The highlight was an early morning session at the main hide at the Wetlands – this charming dabchick,
and a wonderful sunrise: