When we first started out way back in February we had no idea how these weekly surveys would turn out, or indeed how long they would go on for. The big worry was what would we do if it kept on raining. Well we didn’t need to worry. Forty Three Tuesday morning walks in wet Wales and only two wet mornings, one of which we spent inside surveying the Great Glasshouse. Mind you, it was bitterly cold and windy in March and April with snow and ice.
During the last two weeks, one was spent wandering around the Garden considering the various places we would be looking at next year, and the equipment we might need. With the other on a very bright, cold and at times rather misty morning, we drove over to the volunteer centre at Pantwgan farm. From there we walked around a bit of Waun Las and Pont Felin Gat, along by the lost lake and as far as the ravine, trying to establish if there was a reasonable round walk for bird watchers. Not easy and although Colin Jones and Julian Friese, our intrepid bird watchers, may yet find some interesting routes, the general verdict was that it was probably better to start out along the Welsh Country Walk and head through Trawscoed meadow and from there into Pont Felin Gat and around there. Somewhat longer than we would have wished, but it does take in a variety of habitats. With the clearance work which will start in January around the lost lake it will be interesting to see what effect it has on the wildlife there.
But we did see and hear some birds, including a Tawny Owl hooting away in the day-time – they sometimes do that – and a lot of Blue and Great Tits flitting around an enormous Oak tree, apparently fighting over possession of a rather large hole in the trunk. And on the way over we had a good view overhead of a couple of Buzzards although we have yet to see any Red Kites on the two bird counts that we have done despite the fact that they are now so common. A full list is given below.
However, on the previous Monday morning I had my first live sighting this year of a somewhat elusive and unfortunately increasingly rare nocturnal animal. We had seen evidence of his presence in the form of a footprint but nothing else. And he, or maybe she, wasn’t where we had carefully put up the ‘winter hotel’, which was in the Double-Walled Garden. And the manner of his discovery was somewhat unfortunate as he was dug up by a JCB. Fortunately he was firmly asleep as all good Hedgehogs should be by this time of year, and didn’t wake up although he did give a grunt when Jane Richmond deposited him in the cardboard box which Clive so kindly supplied. And, because we didn’t know about the Hedgehog hotel in the Double-Walled Garden Jane had to go down to the Aqualab and retrieve the demonstration one from there. It was then a question of finding a good spot to hide it whilst allowing us to monitor it.
In the end Jane solved the problem by picking some of the remaining dry leaves from the oak trees to line the nest, carefully placing the Hedgehog inside, then covering this hotel with lots of logs and leaves as you can see from the photos below.
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This is the final walk of 2013 and I would like to say a big thank you all the volunteers who have helped to make it such a success, and especially Bruce for his support. The first walk of 2014 will be on January 7th. Let us hope that next year will be as successful and dry as this year has been.
The Pont Felin Gat bird count was 20 which included: