Another dry Tuesday and not too wet underfoot despite the previous days deluge. We met as usual in the Stable Block and then drove to bridge at Pont Felin Gat. With a large group of eight and different interests it was quickly agreed that we should split up. The two botanists, Michael and Howard went their way and meandered along whilst the rest of us walked a little more quickly towards the waterfalls. Although, as Howard commented afterwards, they didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, they nevertheless clocked up over 50 different plant species of which 18 were not on our list. Which just goes to show how much work needs to be done.
Pont Felin Gat in Springtime is a beautiful woodland, with carpets of Bluebells and other wild flowers. Although Bluebells are always associated with woodlands they quite happily grow in many other places. These woods are also home to Otters and Badgers and, if you are very lucky, you may see the Otters during the day. With regard to Badgers, as recently reported in Margam Park, the cold, dry winter and spring has apparently resulted in the deaths of Badgers due to starvation. We don’t know if the same has happened here. Looking at the Badger sets that we could see from the path we weren’t sure whether there was evidence of recent use or not. As to the condition of the Badgers, that we can’t say.
Aside from the wild flowers another notable feature was bird song. One of the reasons that we were keen to visit these woods was that the RSPB had reported 4 male Pied Flycatchers singing and a female in a nest box on eggs. This was at the furthest point of our walk and along the way we stopped for quite a while by the waterfall. A truly memorable sight.
Then the Pied Flycatchers. Well, with the help of a phone app which played their song we got a response. And even better, the nest box now had chicks in it, one of them dead. Perhaps a sign of the lack of insects even in this relatively favourable habitat.
After that we then set about checking on the other nest boxes. There are quite a number here, some in better condition than others. Most were empty, some with signs of occupancy both recent and last year, and one with a Blue Tit sitting and nest of Great Tit chicks.
Back to the cars just in time to escape a shower and back to the Stable Block where we were ‘entertained’ in the archway by a millipede. Maybe it doesn’t thousand legs but it is essential that they are of equal length or they will fall over.
Thanks to John James for his photos and if any volunteer or member is interested in joining us, or even starting something similar on a different day, then send an email to Colin Miles – also if you see or photograph anything exciting in the Garden. If you click on any of the images in these blogs, or anywhere else you will see a larger picture.