9 Mar 2015

I-Spy – a ghost?

Colin Miles

Mar 3rd 2015. Forecast windy, cold with the odd showers. Actual, hardly any wind, dry and sunny a lot of the time.

For this week Bruce wanted us to try out his ‘I-Spy Wildlife on Waun Las NNR’. This is a fun new way to encourage its visitors to enjoy and appreciate the wildlife on Waun Las which he had first tried out on a group from Cardiff – and they seemed enjoy it. But what would we make of it?

Basically the idea to use our senses to score the wildlife value of different fields. There are 10 scoring criteria which range from the number of different bird sounds you hear (hoots, tweets. trills, squawks, chirrups and songs,) the presence of animal runs, flying and crawling insect types, the scent of a fox, the occurrence of ant hills, fungi, mammals and amphibians, etc.

So we set towards Waun Las. But before we got there we had to examine the Bull. Jan and Keith had spotted bird droppings on it, or rather in it. We think that Wrens have been roosting there tucked up and cosy on the side away from the prevailing wind. Will they nest there?

On towards the first meadow in Waun Las – various comments and discussions about the criteria though the actual meadow plus the weather didn’t give us much to go on. Despite the fact that it has been a very sunny winter it has also been cold, so no insects around and little in the way of flowers other than Snowdrops, Daisies and the like. But later on returning to Trawscoed wood, we were very pleased to see lots of Dog Violets leaves appearing near where we had planted them last year. It looks as if the seed pods from those have produced further plants.

Further on in Trawscoed meadow itself and by the Beech Stump Peter found feathers. Much discussion as to what they could be – probably Tawny Owl. According to Julian the trick is to feel the feathers on the upper side. If very soft and fluffy to touch, owl, if coarser could be Snipe.

Meanwhile the rest of us were busy trying to identify a flock of small birds flitting around the meadow. John eventually managed to get some photos. Meadow Pipits which, Jan say, will flock at this time of year, before leaving for their breeding grounds on heathy meadows higher up.

Finally, we have recently had a ghost walk around the Garden though horses weren’t included in that. But according to a memoir by Alice Abadam the horses from Middleton Hall were buried in Waun Las. Can you see the ghost of one Peter’s photo in Waun Las – just to the left of Michael?

What did we make of I-spy? Certainly worth pursuing and could be of interest to visitors of all kinds, especially children.

Anne’s notes: 3 March 2015 Sunny intervals, cool breeze.
Small Flock Meadow Pipits, 3 Red Kites, 2 Buzzards, 1 Goldcrest. Wren roost in the wool interior of the Welsh Black Bull sculpture. Scarlet Elf Cup – Sarcoscypha coccinea

Looked for Brown Hairstreak butterfly eggs, which are laid singly in the forks of Blackthorn twigs, usually on the smaller bushes.

Plants showing new growth:- Shining Cranesbill – Geranium lucidum, Wild Arum also called Lords and Ladies – Arum maculatum, Ramsons also called Wild Garlic – Allium ursinum, Wood Anemone – Anemone nemorosa, Common Dog Violet – Viola riviniana, Primrose – Primula vulgaris, Lesser Celandine – Ficaria verna.

Many thanks as always to John and Peter for their splendid photos. And if any volunteer or member wants to join us please send an email to Jane Down– you DON’T have to be an expert in anything, just interested. If you click on the Wildlife Walks heading on the left-hand side under News you will see a list of the last 10 Wildlife Survey blogs. If you find an injured bird, hedgehog or other wild animal and want help and advice then phone the Gower Bird hospital. on 01792 371630.