Saturday 14 April 2012

Gwyr - Diwrnod dau *

Dawn as seen from the cottage
* Day two on the Gower Peninsula was decreed a 'no car' day. We planned to walk to the north coast, have a spot of lunch in Llanmadoc and then explore Whiteford Burrows before retracing our steps. For me, being able to walk from your door, straight into open countryside and not have to worry about vehicular transport at all, is a pleasure of immense worth. This factor is high on the agenda when booking accommodation!

We set off mid-morning in bright sunshine and climbed the ridge behind the cottage. Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Linnets were singing to proclaim their territories as we made our way along the side of Ryer's Down. Slowly descending into the next valley, it was apparent that the warm temperatures were encouraging many invertebrates out into the open. In quick succession we spotted...

Green Tiger Beetle, Cicindela campestris

Oil beetle, Meloe proscarabaeus**
We made our way off the common and dropped down through woodland to cross a small river, Burry Pill, by means of an old pack horse bridge. Walking through the fields along the banks of the river, our musical accompaniment was now from Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Wrens and various species of tit. Entering another wood, we were surrounded by more Gower flower power in the form of Bluebells, Lesser Celandine, Dog Violet and Wood Anemone, whilst in the dappled shade, there were several Speckled Wood butterflies.

After passing through Cheriton, a short section of road brought us to the village of Llanmadoc, where we enjoyed a long Sunday lunch at the Britannia Inn.

It's fair to say that we were in something of a postprandial stupor, as we began the afternoon's stroll. I hadn't even unpacked my camera from its rucksack, which, as it turned out, was a shame. Walking down a track towards Cwm Ivy Marsh, we saw a Buzzard just across the other side of the valley. It glided effortlessly along the edge of the hill and landed on a fence post. The cry of another bird made us look up and a second Buzzard dived towards the first out of the clear blue sky. Before we could even wonder whether this was a territorial dispute, it became immediately apparent that it wasn't, as they mated on the fence post and then soared up into the air again. I looked from the birds to my empty hands and then back to the birds again. It wouldn't have been a great photo, they were at least 200m away, but as pornithology goes, Buzzards would've been quite special.

With camera now unpacked, we made our way across the marsh to the sand dunes of Whiteford Burrows National Nature Reserve (our route differed from the attached map - from the Public House bottom centre, we made our way north to Point 6 and then Point 5 before returning the same way).

After a bit of a snooze in the sand dunes, we discovered that we were laid next to several orchid rosettes. It'll be a while before they put up shoots and reveal their identity, but it was good to know that they were there. At the edges of the sandy track, I noticed more inverts. They were black and orange in colour, but, due to their constant movement, they were difficult to photograph.

I think this is a spider-hunting wasp, possibly Anoplius viaticus
On the return trip, we spotted some strange patterns in the sand, and it didn't take long to track down their owner.

At least we can agree it's a spider. Perhaps Dysdera crocota?
We returned to the pub in Llanmadoc for a well-earned ginger beer, before retracing our steps along Burry Pill and over Ryer's Down. Despite her dodgy knee, Our Lass had happily covered nine miles during the day, though I suspect the boozy lunch was a big help.

** PS 12/05/12 Thanks to Katie from Nature ID for the correct identification of the oil beetle (and not Devil's Coach Horse as I presumed). Note to self - always check!


Martin said...

Whitford, one of my favourite places. It is worth a walk up to the far end, keeping to the East of the spit when the main path heads 'inland' to get up to the headland and maybe explore some of the 'islets' or to the lighthouse. There are also nice sunrises to be had with the mist hanging on the marshes or sunsets from the beachover Carmathen Bay on a moody-sky day.
Well done to your Lass, its a good outing from Burry Green.

Imperfect and Tense said...

It was a glorious day in a wonderful area, though I don't know what time we'd need to wake up to ensure we arrived at Whitford for sunrise!

Martin said...

Five to ten minutes before if you sleep on the beach and walk through the dunes!

Imperfect and Tense said...

Ha ha! I can categorically state that won't happen. Someone would have to wake up much earlier than someone else to ensure that she had a cup of tea on waking...

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Doing a quick attempt to catch-up on blog reading. Can you tell how far behind I am? Just a pointer - that's not a devil's coach horse beetle but a Meloe sp. oil beetle. I made a similar assumption:

Imperfect and Tense said...

Many thanks, Katie. Doh! It was 16 pages later in the insect ID book. Apparently the kink in the antennae are diagnostic.