Wild About Wales

I’ve just returned from a week’s holiday in mid-Wales and it was absolutely FANTASTIC!

I’ve been fishing, crabbing and wildlife spotting, ate ice cream and fish & chips, played tennis and frisbee and even had a dip in the FREEZIN’ cold sea.We stayed near Llangrannog in a lovely cottage at Penlon Farm, where the owner Gari allowed me to roam freely round the farm and even feed a baby lamb by hand – despite being small it really pulled on the bottle. There’s Jazz the sheepdog, horses Tommy & Freddy, a turkey, sheep and chickens. It’s a great place to explore, I’d love to live there.

Cwmtydu has a rocky beach with a river that changes with the tide and I love it there. If I lived near there I’d go after school everyday – it’s just a brilliant place. My Mum bet me £5 to swim for 10 seconds in the icy water; I’m always up for a challenge !

Later in the week we cooked tea over a real fire using driftwood off the beach and I enjoyed a campfire Forest School favourite, ‘S’more’

My 3 favourite places to visit

  1.  Ocean Lab Sea Trust at Goodwick, usually has an aquarium, but as the ranger told me they haven’t got any funding at the moment and they have had to close it. This makes me very angry with the Government, so I donated my £5 winning to help them out. I was really lucky to be shown a (possible) meteorite rock – it’s yet to be tested by an expert – but I was told all about terms like carboniferous, ignatius and ionised rock – fascinating stuff
  2. Dyfi Osprey Project near Machynlleth is a 360 observatory looking out over marshes/wetlands. It’s a holiday favourite for us, as everything about it is fantastic. Monty and Glesni are the resident ospreys there, but recently a new osprey is in town, Blue 24 and when she’s around it all kicks off !! We also spotted a barn owl and I’ve never seen one before, so I was over the moon. If you visit their website they livestream all the osprey activity, it makes better viewing than Coronation St !
  3. Welsh Wildlife Centre at Cilgerran is just the best place ever for wildlife spotting, there’s loads of bird hides and we always have an amazing time when we visit. The weather was great and the café is one of my Mum’s favourite; we had lunch in the shadow of an enormous willow badger.

Best wildlife spotting of the holiday

I saw LOADS of wildlife, but here’s my top ten (I’ll put a gallery of wildlife spottings on my facebook page)

  1. In at number one, Barn Owl – we spotted this ghostly white shadow, gliding softly over the fields at the Dyfi Osprey Project
  2. Badger – near where we stayed, we saw a silhouette trotting along, until it got a sniff of me and legged it!
  3. Ospreys – are gigantic birds; we spotted 3 soaring over the marshes
  4. Tawny Owl – we heard it first and then saw it fly over us into a tree
  5. Great Crested Newt – hundreds of them (which is great) near the Welsh Wildlife visitor centre
  6. Linnets – spotted these beauties at Strumble Head
  7. Gannets – flying over the sea again at Strumble Head
  8. Choughs – are a big black bird with a curved red beak, only found in specific places
  9. Peacock Butterfly – very colourful insect spotted at Welsh Wildlife Centre
  10. Wheatear – spotted this small bird on the coastal walk to Llangrannog

Great Grub

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m mad about fish & chips; I had them twice from a chippy in New Quay – they were scrummy. Had a delicious hot chocolate too!

I’ve got another week off school and am looking forward to visiting RHS Garden Harlow Carr, doing a bit of gardening (I’ve planted these spuds today) and I’ve got big plans to make my own Doctor Who/Harry Potter film.

What a great Easter holiday it’s been so far.

 

About greenfingeredgeorge

First ever RHS Young Ambassador A Gardening Geek and Nature Nerd!
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20 Responses to Wild About Wales

  1. Claire says:

    Sounds like you had an amazing time. Those fish & chips look amazing. Hope to see you soon lots of love Aunty Claire xxx

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  2. Joan Mycroft. says:

    Well done George. What a holiday. How kind of u to give your £5 to the charity.it’s sad they don’t get the help they need. Its great to hear all about the birds we love birds.. It was nice that u saw a owl. U must try and go to munncaster castle . its a wonderful place to see owls breeding. Keep up the good work. And keep having your fish and chips George.

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  3. Steve says:

    Fantastic George! Looks like you had a great time on your holiday!! Thanks for sharing! Im chitting my spuds too, hope we get a good crop this year. 😀

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    • Hi Steve what type are your spuds, ours are Charlotte and Orla. They taste better when you grow them yourself – it’s the pleasure of all the effort you put in
      Hope you are good George

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      • Steve says:

        Hi George, mine are Foremost (first early) and Kestrel (second early). You’re right! Nothing tastes quick like the ones you’ve grown yourself. Keep up the good work! 😀

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  4. cazthered says:

    Fantastic photos and all looks great fun xx

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  5. Elfyn Pugh says:

    You write so eloquently (hope that’s how you spell it!) about nature in your blog George. I’m very impressed indeed. I’m glad to hear that you had a good time in Wales. I live in Machynlleth near the Dyfi Osprey Project and I’m a good friend of Cliff Benson of ‘Sea Trust’ and ‘Ocean Lab’ down in glorious Pembrokeshire. I too ‘love’ Strumble Head and regularly visit there at all seasons in fact my wife and will be staying a week in a cottage near there in May when we hope to visit Skomer Island which as you probably know is the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Welsh wildlife hot-spots. Are you into whales & dolphins? I’m a trustee, marine mammal surveyor and a wildlife guide with the UK based marine charity ORCA (Organisation Cetacea). We work with ‘Brittany Ferries’ in running special ‘whale & dolphin mini-cruises’ across the Bay of Biscay during the summer months. In September this year we will be joined again by one of our patrons Chris Packham. I’m sure you would love to meet him! He is a great guy to talk to and he is very approachable. Come and join us on a trip and bring your parents! Details are on the Brittany Ferries website. I would love to see you write about it. Anyway keep up the good work George and thanks for promoting Wales as a fantastic wildlife destination. You are a ‘man’ after my own heart! Come and see us again soon!
    I have shared details of your blog with my extensive network of ‘Facebook’ friends all ‘passionate’ lovers of wildlife!

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    • Hi Elfyn, thanks very much for your comments it’s really great to hear from you. This is how I write – I tell my mum what I want going in the blog and she types it, then she asks me questions and I describe things like how I described the barn owl at the Dyfi Project. Often when I read it back I correct her grammar and my Grandma corrects the spelling!!
      As you live in Machynlleth do you see the ospreys regularly? Have you ever seen them feed? What other wildlife do you see nearby?
      I hope you enjoy your holiday Strumble Head, I really enjoyed looking at all the sea birds, in particular the gannets. I’ve heard it’s a good place to see dolphins, whales, seals and porpoise and I heard all about the volcanic rock.
      My Dad has told me about Skomer Island, but I’ve never been – it’s on the list to visit.
      You ask whether I’m into whales and dolphins and I definitely am – I’ve seen a bottlenose and common dolphin, but never ever seen a whale – I would love to see a blue whale !
      As for Brittany Ferries – I’ve been on them loads of times, from Portsmouth to St Malo to visit my Grandma and Grandad who had a cottage in Brittany, however I’ve never once seen a whale or dolphin. I would love to do a mini cruise – I will have to save up my pocket money and try and come next year. By the way I aspire to be like Chris Packham, he’s my nature hero!
      Thanks for sharing my blog and you’re right we always have a ‘whale of a time’ in Wales !!
      Cheers and speak soon George

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      • Elfyn Pugh says:

        Hi George (and mum!). Thanks for replying. I should tell you that I visit the local osprey project regularly but I don’t I’m afraid however I try and do some night shifts at the project when the birds are incubating the eggs to watch the nest and make sure they do not get disturbed or the eggs ‘robbed’. There are other pairs of ospreys in Wales and I guess they are vulnerable to being disturbed or the eggs taken but there aren’t the resources or manpower to protect them all. in the case of the Dyfi ospreys a huge amount of funding and volunteering effort has gone into the project since it was set up and as you know it is a ‘huge’ local tourist attraction. That is one of the main reasons why I offer my services on the ‘night watch’. I’m an ex-policeman and I’m used to working night shifts so I guess I’m well suited to the job! I have been watching wildlife in this area for over four decades so I know it well. I have seen many changes during that time. I was involved in the protection of the red kite off and on since 1971 and the fact that the bird is now doing so well throughout Britain is a testament to the hard work and commitment of a lot of people. I was a very small cog in the conservation tale of the red kite but I was glad to play my part. In 1971 there were probably only about 30 pairs of kites in the whole of Wales and therefore the whole of the UK and now there are 1,000 pairs or more in Wales. It has been a huge success story. I love my local wildlife and I have a river running through my land where I see dippers, grey wagtails, herons, goosanders, kingfisher and I regularly get otters. I know they are there because they regularly ‘spraint’ (leave their poo) on rocks midstream and I have video footage of one taken with a ‘wildlife cam’. Most days I see kite, buzzard and ravens. However I travel a lot and in the last three years I have been to Antarctica and the Arctic regions to see wildlife. These are utterly amazing places. Hopefully you will get to visit these places too someday George. I always like coming home to my beloved mid-Wales and I appreciate it a lot more after visiting such wild and remote places.
        I look forward to reading your future blogs.
        Take care George.

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      • Hi Elfyn, nice to hear from you again. I’ve seen on Facebook that Blue 24 and Glesni have both laid eggs this year – how do you stop people stealing the eggs? By watching the cameras or by camping out near the marshes? Would another bird of prey steal the eggs?
        I’m quite proud of the people who have helped in the conservation and protection work of red kites. I think they are very beautiful and pretty – it makes me happy when I first see them on my travels as we don’t tend to get them round my area. Do you see them from your house?
        I’d love to live near you, I would sit by that river all day !!!
        you have been to some amazing places, I hope to go to Australia one day and look at the wildlife
        My best wildlife spotting is 1.At the Dee Estuary a buzzard came down and caught a rabbit 2. Badgers 3. Barn Owl. Numbers 2 & 3 were in Wales !!!
        Speak soon George

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      • Elfyn Pugh says:

        Hi George. By now you will know that Glesni has laid 3 eggs! Probably that’s her lot. Regarding the nest protection measures for the ospreys I obviously can’t tell you much because its restricted information but they are watched on camera ’24 hours’. There is an operational order as to what to do if there were human intruders as would be the case with any similar bird protection measures. Being an ‘ex-cop’ I would like to feel that I could ‘collar’ (ask mum what that means if you don’t know) an intruder if it ever happened and he might just feel an old bobbies boot up his backside too for good measure! Anyway an incident like that is ‘unlikely’ to happen but the surveillance teams have to be alert to such an event at ‘all’ times day and night. Historically some well known egg collectors would target nests of bird of prey just to prove a point and stick their fingers up at the bird protectionists as was the famous case of the guys who cut the R.S.P.B.’s Loch Garten osprey nest down with a chainsaw many years ago. If I’m correct it was eventually bolted back on. If you are up in Scotland its well worth visiting this iconic nests site. In the Abernethy forest in that area you will see red squirrels and crested tit and who knows maybe even a capercaillie!
        Anyway back to osprey protection matters. I think egg collecting is not as prevalent today as it was years ago as the penalties for being caught are now quite stiff for birds received special protection such as certain raptors. You can fined and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment for ‘each’ egg! I know of egg thieves who have been imprisoned for stealing the eggs of red kites. One infamous egg collector raided many kite nests in Wales and also other rare birds too. Not that many years ago and now in his 60’s he attempted to rob a sparrowhawk’s nest and climbed up the tree to get to the nest. He lost his grip and fell to his death! A fitting end to such an unscrupulous character I think. I see red kites every day all year. I have a nest in a very mature stance of trees right opposite my house. I don’t mind telling you that because the nest is probably around 90ft up so a would be egg thief would seriously endanger his life if he attempted to rob it. During the winter, if the wind is right, I get a regular kite roost in the same stance of trees. I have had a max. of 47 kites roosting there! Up till recently a large majority of kites in England and Wales were fitted with ‘wing tags’ when they were chicks as well as being fitted with the regular ‘darvic’ BTO rings. These tags were embossed with unique alpha-numeric symbols by which you could identify the bird. They were made of plastic and drop off after a few years. One winter I had a roost of about 25 birds and by careful examination through my high powered telescope from my front porch I was able to read the details on several ‘wing tags’. I sent the information to Tony Cross of the ‘Welsh Kite Trust’. He sent me back information about the birds from the trust database. The kites were from all over Wales and one bird was from Rutland! It was like a meeting of the Welsh ‘kite clans’. I was so excited.
        Cheers for now George.

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      • Hi Elfyn, thanks for all this information. Me, my mum and dad all sat and read it and found it really interesting.
        We’ve been keeping up to date with the Ospreys and indeed they have been busy – you must be on your egg watch now!
        Its a weird thing that people would want to steal and collect eggs, to me if seems ridiculous and I’m glad we have strict laws in place to protect birds. I saw 7 coot eggs the other day, near a river where we regularly see water voles. Mum took a photo and we identified them when we got home. They were in a nest on a tree that had fell into the river – they looked safe enough though. We didn’t see any water voles this time, but we have in the past – they are cracking
        I can’t believe you once saw 47 Red kites roosting – that’s amazing. I think they are just the most amazing bird and I love identifying their forked tail as they soar through the air.
        Speaking of ringing birds, we took a photo of a cheeky Robin at the Welsh Wildlife Reserve and when we were looking at the photos back at home I noticed it had a ring. We sent the photo to the reserve and a lady from the ringing scheme got back to us saying it was probably one that was ringed in 2012 – it’s just great to be part of something like that.
        All our birdfeeders have been active recently with Bullfinch, blue tits, coal tits, grey tits, chaffinch and dunnocks visiting. I sit in my bedroom and love looking at them feeding – I could sit there all day !
        Cheers George

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    • Hi Elfyn, I’m going back to Wales at Easter – hoping to spot more Welsh wildlife. Will be going over to Fishguard for the day and will be stopping at the osprey centre on the journey home! Can’t wait George

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    • Hi Elfyn, I’m going back to Wales at Easter – hoping to spot more Welsh wildlife. Will be going over to Fishguard for the day and will be stopping at the osprey centre on the journey home! Can’t wait George

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  6. cliff benson says:

    hi George , Cliff here it would be good if you could update your info on the Ocean Lab, hope you enjoyed the exhibition, was great to see you again and show you some porpoises with our Team Sea Trust!

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