Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

A whoosh and a bubble

With the jet stream wobbling north to be replaced with a ridge of warmer high pressure over the southern part of the British Isles there was a slim chance of an early wheatear as I arrived in the (natural) heritage landscape. But it was those early Spring atmospheric sounds that took centre stage.

Overlooking the green baize that is rural Abergavenny and set against the mist shrouded flanks of the Sugar Loaf a rush of wind caused me to look skyward just in time to catch a couple of tumbling peregrine in pursuit of a frantic wood pigeon - yes, please note wood pigeon not racing pigeon! Alas and in a frenzy of aerodynamics all birds disappeared quickly out of sight over the county border into the grand duchy of Monmouthshire. There's a possibility that woody found refuse in a copse of trees just in the nick of time, but I fear not, he's almost certainly collected his last nest building stick. I pause for thought.

With heavy heart I plodded off to seek gainful employment as an amateur naturalist deep within the tightly clenched bowels of the now familiar post industrial peri-urban edgeland. In doing so I immersed  myself in stone turning and debris sifting in the hope it would erase the lingering mental images of peregrine-plucking-pigeon action. I searched for a biological gem. This was successful when a partly embedded hardboard kitchen drawer bottom, possibly of MFI vintage, was prised from its carboniferous substrate to expose at least four motionless common lizard to a shower of morning sunlight.

The rest of the excursion took the form of a geological photo essay all to the accompaniment of singing skylark. The hill and hollow features of colliery spoil deposition has produced a landscape of dry and wet habitats. In the many hollows were many frogs and during a momentary pause in background traffic noise the massed ranks of amphibians croaked in random unison. One frog was seen to repeatedly blow bubbles on the surface of the pond. 

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