Updated 4 January 2020 - New blog post - New Year Walk at WWT Llanelli

Saturday, 4 January 2020

New Year walk at the WWT Llanelli

Date:  4 January 2020
Location:  WWT Llanelli
Weather:  Mixed bag of cloud and the odd bit of sun

Happy New Year Everyone! It's been forever since I have updated my blog, so one new year resolution is to get out there, find wonderful wildlife and blog at least once a week. 

Our first outing was to our local WWT nature reserve in Llanelli. We are members, so when we at a loose end we always venture down there to enjoy the wildlife and get some well needed fresh air.

This is what we discovered...

The Birds:

Wood Pigeon
Little Egret
Tufted Duck (male)
Grey heron

Need Iding...
Jelly ear fungus
Close up of Jelly Ear Fungus
Need Iding...
Need Iding...
Turkey Tail Fungus

We were only there for a few hours, but it was lovely to be out and about again - nature is truly the best medicine and therapy anyone could want and I hope I can get outdoors as much as I can this year :)

Friday, 28 September 2018

An afternoon walk down Rhossili, Gower

Date:  28 September 2018
Location:  Rhossili, Gower
Weather:  Sunny with a slight breeze

A long over-due walk down the outstanding beautiful Gower and it's jewel in the crown, Rhossili 

It's been awhile since we ventured down Gower, so seeing as we had the afternoon free we decided to head to Rhossili, one of the most glorious parts of the Gower Peninsula. It is only a 40 minute drive and the weather was beautiful.

Rhossili is owned by the National Trust, so not being members we had to pay for parking (£2.50 for 2 hours, £5.00 for all day). There's plenty of parking and a few eateries around, but we just wanted some fresh air and to see what wildlife we could discover.

We headed straight towards the Worm and it wasn't long before we heard that familiar squawking of Choughs. We could see two, but unfortunately couldn't get a pic, but it didn't matter as it was just great to see them again.

Arty photo with Worms Head in the background
We were debating whether to walk over to the Worm, but we thought we may have left it too late and we didn't want to be marooned there. So we sat on the cliffs and scanned the ocean and cliff faces to see what wildlife we could spot. We saw a Kestrel a number of times and a few Rock Pipits. We also saw a number of butterflies, especially Red Admirals and Peacocks. 

Red Admiral
We continued exploring and I saw a large bird sitting on a nearby wall. I could see it was a Kestrel, perhaps the one we had seen earlier? But it was beautiful, I think it's a female and she sat there for quite awhile and for the first time I managed to get some good pics of the bird.

Beautiful Kestrel
Kestrel striking a pose
Another pic of the awesome Kestrel
Other bird life we spotted was Ravens, Stonechat, Dunnocks, Wheatears and lots of gulls, including Lesser and Black Backed Gulls.

Pied Wagtail
Apart from birds, there were quite a few fungi on the ground, here are just three photos of some of the different ones we found.

A rather large fungi
Tiny little puffballs?
A lovely looking mushroom
As we started walking back to the car we decided to pop into the sunflower field. This year the Gower National Trust planted 400,000 sunflowers. This is amazing for bees and birds will absolutely love the seeds when they are finished flowering. Next year they plan to plant lavender fields too...this will be awesome! Unfortunately, we left it too late to fully appreciate the sunflowers in all their glory, but we did find a few that were still flowering. Next year I will have to come and see them earlier :) - If you want to see what they looked like just type 'sunflowers Rhossili' into Google to see all the amazing pics.

Most of the sunflowers were dead (but with lots and lots of sunflower seeds for birds)
I found one sunflower though that was still shining bright :)
We had a fantastic time with our spare few hours and we don't understand why we don't explore the Gower more often (its literally on our doorstep!) - The sun was setting and created that lovely warm Autumn glow over the bay. I took one last pic as I looked back on the bay and it's no surprise that this is an Area of Outstanding Beauty.

Beautiful warm glow from the setting sun over the coast
The sun sets behind the worm and we say goodbye to Rhossili 

Sunday, 23 September 2018

A wonderful and powerful day in London for the #PeoplesWalkForWildlife

Date:  22 September 2018
Location:  Hyde Park, London
Weather:  Very, very, very wet (but it didn't stop us smiling!)

Today we made history. Dan and myself (and 10,000 others) marched through the City of London on the #PeoplesWalkForWildlife organised by Chris Packham. 

I have always been a keyboard wildlife activist: signing petitions, writing to MPs and sharing awareness on social media, but I have never actually physically marched for something I believe in. When Chris Packham announced that he was going to to do the #PeoplesWalkForWildlife back in June I knew then I MUST do it, I HAD to make a stand for British wildlife.

The week leading up the walk was a very busy one, I had lots of work on and was really tired. Once Friday night came I put work behind me and the adrenaline started pumping. Finally, I had a chance to do something for wildlife: for all the badgers that are being culled, for all the foxes that are illegally killed, for all our marine life that is being poisoned and for all our birds that have declined dramatically over the last 40 years.

Our journey began at 5am, when we drove up the M4 from South Wales to the City of London. After parking, a few tube stops later we finally got to Hyde Park at around 9:30am. I am ashamed to say that I have never been to Hyde Park before and was excited when I spotted countless Ringed  Parakeets, Egyptian Geese, Grey Squirrels, Starlings and Greylag Geese. I am sure there are many more species in the park but this is what we spotted walking through towards Speakers Corner.

Dan and I with one of the official posters for the #PeoplesWalkForWildlife
Wide awake at 5am and adrenaline is kicking in....London, here we come...
Hyde Park - The Egyptian Geese don't seem to want to come on the march!
Below are some of the other wildlife we spotted in the park...

Quite a few people were already there: the RSPB, Wildlife Trust, WWF, London National Park City and The League Against Cruel Sports were amongst the organisations that had stalls there with activities for kids (and big kids like me) - I created a banner on the RSPB Stall, where I picked the humble starling (one of my favourite birds) and wrote the message "SAVE ME" on it. We chatted to like-minded people, picked up a manifesto and spotted some wildlife royalty, including Bill Oddie, Martin Hughes-Games and, of course, Chris Packham.

People starting to gather around the stage around 10am
The banner I created on the RSPB stand and the fox mask I got on the WWF stand...now I am ready for the march! 
Martin Hughes-Games being interviewed
The legend Bill Oddie
Chris Packham and Lindsey Chapman interviewing some little nature lovers :)
As the time was approaching 12 noon, more and more people accumulated and the costumes and banners were amazing! From spectacular owls created out of recycled items to an awesome bat puppet where you were able to feed it a (sock) midge. It was just awesome and mind-blowing, then like most British events, it started to rain! It wasn't forecast, infact the Met Office said it was light cloud and sun all day. But a bit of rain wasn't going to dampen our spirits...no way!

Me with a turtle dove - I have only ever seen a real  one once in my lifetime :(

Spectacular owls, with such an important message about fracking
Brilliant display protesting against single used plastics.
There's a giant bat behind us! This guy (and the midges) stole the show
12 noon and the rain was continuing to pour down. Chris Packham comes on the stage singing "Raindrops keep falling on my head..." We didn't care we were getting soaked, we just cheered and enjoyed the next hour of information and entertainment. The info was mainly about the People's Manifesto and it's ministers. Passionate speeches from Dominic Dyer, powerful messages told by Ruth Tingay and tear jerking speech by the awesome 15 year old Bella Lack. Every single person who spoke on the stage was inspiring, emotional and deserved every single cheer they received. Entertainment was provided by Saskia Eng who sang 'What a Wonderful World' and Grace Petrie. But it was when Billy Bragg sang 'Where have all the flowers gone' the tears started flowing, he should really record it and release it with the new lyrics...I have bee trying to find a video of the whole song, but check out the below video of a section of the song posted by @TheBadgerGroup  on Twitter.
At 1pm it was time to walk through the City of London to deliver the manifesto to the Environment Minister Michael Gove at Downing Street. We didn't know which way to go, but just followed the thousands who were carrying banners and powerful messages for the public and government. Before the walk Chris Packham had urged people to download a birdsong track from his website for all the millions of birds we have lost. We put our mobiles up to full volume and played it loud. Up until the walk we didn't appreciate how many people were actually there, but there were thousands! We ended up in the middle of the march and as we walked through London there were people as far as the eye could see both in front and behind...

Being part of the crowd I can't really take a photo to emphases the amount of people there, so check out this tweet from Chris Packham and you will have a better understanding how many people actually took part...

I have heard that there was an estimated 10,000 people marching, no chanting, no trouble - just bird song and peaceful people of all ages who want to save our wildlife. We eventually got to Downing Street where Chris Packham continued his speech and introduced us to more of the manifesto ministers including the wonderful Mark Avery and George Monbiot, whose final words of the day were about rewilding and left us all with hope that we can change the future of our wildlife for the better. Unfortunately Michael Gove didn't make an appearance (what a surprise!) but the manifesto and a petition were handed into 10 Downing Street by Chris Packham and six young and inspiring wildlife heroes.

Chris Packham

Mark Avery
George Monbiot
The crowd outside Downing Street...
...and the same amount behind us!
I am so happy I ventured all the way to London to be part of this amazing march. You always think something like this will create violence or animosity, but the only noise I heard was beautiful bird song and people talking about wildlife...it was just perfect. When the talk was over, we started to walk away from the crowds and saw the amazing Iolo Williams, we have met him a few times in the past and he recognised us...he shook our hands and said 'thank you both for coming' - that was the icing on the cake, we wouldn't have missed it for the world.

To read the manifesto you can check it out here