The delights of Marloes Mere

Just down the lane from the youth hostel at Marloes is the Mere, a lovely wetland nature reserve. On the Wednesday morning, I woke early and, seeing that it was sunny outside, decided that a quick trip to the Mere would be much more worthwhile than trying to get back to sleep. I was soon rewarded: outside the hide, a sedge warbler loudly and energetically proclaimed his territory, undisturbed by my camera. (He kept at it for fully two hours)

Sedge warbler giving it all his worth

Sedge warbler giving it all his worth

Linnet, posing for the camera

Linnet, posing for the camera

I’d hoped to see a linnet pair I’d seen the previous night but was disappointed… until the male alighted on a prominent branch and posed while I took shots. Linnets tend to be showy birds – but this one took it to an extreme!

The highlight for me came when a dowdy-looking bird arrived in some bushes by the water channel in front of the hide, dashed out to grab an insect before flitting back. A spotted flycatcher! These used to be common birds in the UK, arriving from sub-Saharan Africa in late spring, but their numbers have crashed. They were well known for nesting in gardens – I’ve heard locals in the Martley area say that they had them each year until recently – but now have become scarce. (A couple of years ago I was desperate to see one… see here). The Marloes bird was hard to photograph, until it appeared in some gorse bushes – at which point my finger became clamped to the shutter…

Spotted flycatcher

Spotted flycatcher

Glossy ibis at Marloes Mere

Glossy ibis at Marloes Mere

The site is also known for attracting unusual birds – including a glossy ibis that has been resident for over a year. Indeed, when I was here last time it had three companions, which have since departed. (I wonder what their final conversation had been…) It’s not a great photo, having taken it on a dull Monday evening. (Better shots here)

Later in the day, on my trip around the Dale peninsula, I was focussed more on walking than birding – but had to stop for this stonechat, which was singing to its mate while sitting on a barbed wire fence, while holding something green in its beak. Only afterwards, on looking back through the images, did I find that the ‘something green’ was a caterpillar. It seemed to be bonding with a nearby female which was also prominent and chatty.

Stonechat with caterpillar prey

Stonechat with caterpillar prey

The pain and the glory of Pembrokeshire

At 3am last Monday morning, I was walking across a campsite at the Marloes peninsula, noting the damage other tents were sustaining due to the high winds. I saw one particularly battered tent and thought, ‘these people don’t know how to put a tent up’.

An hour later, there was a popping sound outside the tent I was in – the guy rope fastening had come away. I jerry-rigged it back, and went to sleep. Two hours later, more sounds, and two guy ropes had now gone, and the tent was collapsing.

Dave Doughty and I rescued what we could from inside, and hastened to dismantle the tent. Too hastily, in fact, as the wind snapped the poles in the process.

Meanwhile, the tent across the field remained battered – but intact!

An hour later we were sat in John Linney’s car, a bit shell-shocked by the experience. Eventually I said, “I’m off to the youth hostel” – Dave agreed, so off we went. We did not realise it at the time, but of the four tents we’d pitched, three were wrecked by the wind.

The wind had a serious affect on the whole trip – although it abated, it was not enough for the boat companies, so our whale-watching trip didn’t really happen, and the ferry to Skomer only ran on the Tuesday.

Having said that, the days away strengthened friendships rather than otherwise. We’ve holidayed together several times and have learned to weather the storms! So despite the events, the time was refreshing and re-invigorating. But the jokes don’t get any better… 🙂

Wednesday’s weather was excellent, though, and I trekked from the hostel to the Dale peninsula (about 12 miles). It’s an extraordinarily beautiful stretch of coastline, and the stretch near Marloes Sands is exceptional. The photos are from that part.

Pembrokeshire coast near Marloes

Pembrokeshire coast near Marloes

Pembrokeshire coast near Marloes

Pembrokeshire coast near Marloes

Bee near Marloes - Gateholm and Skokholm in the background.

Bee near Marloes – Gateholm and Skokholm in the background.