Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Until the breeze turned to the north, there was a continuous, steady movement of large, faded orange butterflies, everywhere fluttering with the south-west breeze: across mountain lakes, along the shore and in the village; the well-publicised Painted Lady invasion from North Africa. Settled on Spearwort, Hawkweed and Marsh Thistle, they apparently feed on a great range of nectar-rich flowers, Thistles a favourite host for eggs and caterpillars. It will be interesting to look for a southward migration in late summer.

All quiet on the estuary and shore; a few parties of waders still moving through. About twenty Sanderling rest amongst bronze Bladder Wrack; some in rusty summer garb; others in winter silver. Three, large, black-splashed, khaki eggs nestle in a gravel scrape within feet of the concrete breakwater; black and white, red-billed adults wait quietly in the boulders. Another Oystercatcher is nesting on the ballast of the coastal railway line, sitting tight as train wheels pass within a yard.

Recent winds from the north and east, the mountains are in black cloud, but offshore breezes, ideal for casting a fly, flatten the sea. Standing on a large rock in the evening, casting seawards over deep boulders and weed, regular swirls, splashes and occasional high thrashing leaps show where dark waters of the boulder shore turn emerald over sand, just out of casting range. Several swirls and splashes after the fly and the line straightens as a brown Pollack takes a white lure, another lost later in brown weed. Rising tide forces reluctant departure from the rock, just in time, as water laps wader tops on the return.

A ragged line of birds high across the flat calm bay approaches steadily until honking calls of Canada Geese are heard and the formation passes overhead as the sun descends into the sea.

Wildlife Wales Short Breaks: Autumn, Winter & Early Summer
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