The longest day must signify high tide of the seasons; small but clear signs mark the ebb to autumn. A single Wheatear on rabbit-grazed turf behind the dunes is the first of many to leave rocky mountain walls for the coast before following the coastline south. Likewise, two white-bellied, sandy-backed Common Sandpipers, ‘peeping’ and bobbing on bladder-wracked boulders will have left mountain tarn-side nest sites early; early young or failed breeders. Dun Curlew also are returning to the estuary from northern moorlands, feeding on shining mud or on the boulder shore, or stood roosting or preening on the salting or down in muddy creeks with just heads and heavy bills above salt washed turf. Yesterday, a small, fast wader skimmed inconspicuously over boulders and sand; peppered, scaly back over pale belly; faint wing and tail marking; a juvenile Dunlin, though bill and legs not yet properly black. Just before leaving the beach, a party of familiar black and dark brown duck lifted up to view on choppy waves far out to sea; first party of Scoter to arrive in the bay for winter, another moorland breeding species.
The third Moth Night proved a great success: by the end of the evening, 27 species of moth were identified as they fluttered across the bright lit sheet; by morning another 50 species were identified and freed from the light trap, including many heavy, pink shaded green ‘Elephant Hawk Moths’; white and black-patched ‘Garden Tiger’, delta wings concealing scarlet tail and under-wing; large, delicate, palest emerald white ‘Large Emerald; ‘Buff Tip’ imitating stubs of oak twig to perfection. The English names bestowed on these fluttering scraps of life by the Victorian parsons who first described them are wonderfully poetic and evocative: ‘Small Seraphim’, ‘Heart & Dart’, ‘Small Fan-footed Wave’ are just a few.
Wildlife Wales Activities: www.wildlife-wales.co.uk