Friday, March 23, 2012

First Wheatear...

Some beautiful, balmy spring days this week along with an unsettling spell of warm, dry haze and vicious south winds; unseasonable, with a whiff of climate change. Recent silver Sallow buds are now expanded to puffs of pollen yellow; grass is beginning to grow. The day after Chiffchaff arrival, an otherwise drab wildlife walk lit up with the appearance of a sharply delineated, clearly marked bird with characteristic upright stance on rabbit-grazed turf behind the dunes: first Wheatear, slick black eye-stripe neatly separating slate-grey back from buff-peach under-parts.

Early next morning, up in mountains, a white rectangle, bright in moorland landscape, buzzes up a grey stone wall and out of sight; another Wheatear moving up to mountain dry-stone wall nesting. Further up, the dog moves a family of Wild Goats across the track ahead; two adults and a week old kid. Later, on the way down, pathetic bleating shows the kid below, splay-footed and knock-kneed, left alone, bleating on a grey boulder next to the wall over which its parents had escaped; dog crouched out of sight behind a dark rush clump, blocking possible flight. As we approach, the kid gallops past the clump; sprung high in air at sight of the dog which also leaps upward; two animals in vertical combat, high off the ground: a joy to hold a gangly-legged, bleating young kid, lifting it up on the wall top to jump to safety on the far side.

In the paddock, hens are in lay, papery-white plum blossom just breaking from creamy buds, ground dry enough to break up for sowing fodder kale. Plaintive ‘peeps’ from up the track denote Bullfinches waiting to raid fruit buds; high in larch tops, incessant twittering and wheezing song from Siskins extracting seed from Larch cones, silhouette against early morning blue sky

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Wildlife Wales Activities: www.wildlife-wales.co.uk

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