It was just another holiday weekend in the valleys as I breezed past a taped off crime scene with a Communty Support Officer in attendance on my way to see if any of the gulls on the roofs around Asda Brynmawr were carrying colour rings. There were at least 100 noisy lesser black backed and herring gulls in place on the adjacent industrial estate, some already sitting on nests. The sides of the buildings are now liberally splashed with gull droppings and judging by last years pebble dashing this is only likely to increase. With the Lakeside Retail Park car park so close I've noticed some of the gulls had left their calling cards on one or two of the vehicles. I just wonder how much longer the authorities will put up with these birds before they do something about it?
As I tend to squeeze in my birding around work and domestic commitments, visits to Machine Pond are often restricted to counting wildfowl from the nearby road. Today however I forced myself to put one put in front of the other and go in search of a plant I'd never seen in the vice county but one which had been recorded close to the pond.
Access was surprisingly easy with nicely contstructed disabled friendly walkways a bridge and other assorted Country Park furniture. No need therefore to change out of my suede shoes and beige linen suit! At the head of Machine Pond was another smaller pond dominated by water horsetail ( Equisetum fluviatile ) and a single pair of coot around which was an extensive area of marshy grassland. It was here I found the target species.
According to the Flora of Monmouthshire bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata) occurs in 19 tetrads in the county but todays find was the first for me - my only previous exprience of this wetland plant was from The Burren. There were a scattering of other interesting records from the margins of the pond, including numerous slender groundhopper (Tetrix subulata) and the hitherto unrecorded small but distinctively marked ground beetle (Bembidion articulatum).
As I was off the designated pathways with binoculars and camera in hand often stooping or kneeling to sample an interesting fragment of our natural heritage, I seemed to attract some popular attention. Almost without exception people paused on the bridge to watch a middle aged naturalist go about his passion. You could almost read their minds - what is that bloke doing he's strayed off the path!. On return I was shouted at by a small group of children, 'mister are you a bird hunter' ? At least it was a try!