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

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Bang, bang!

Four sheep were grazing on a patch of community owned green space and moved between parked cars as I pushed through a kissing gate on to the lower slopes of Mynydd y Garn-fawr. The metal structure clattered as I paused to absorb the vista. The heather was at its purplest best, the air full of black dangly legged red-thighed St Marks fly and pollen. A swallow flew low over the colourful patchwork, calling briefly. The objective was a disused rifle range part way up the hillside. This remnant 20th century feature of large bank, stone revetment  complete with pock marked cast iron plates and pre-cast concrete building is one of the few discernible features on this part of the Blorenge Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). 

The sheep track weaved through a mosaic of bracken, heather and acid grassland. Scrambling over a outcrop of scree a pile of weathered red grouse pellets blended well with a background of bleached sandstone rocks. A painted lady butterfly fluttered over the dry baked soil of the path before taking off into the distance. For its age the pre-cast concrete building was in relatively good condition and to my surprise supported a swallow nest containing two large young. A hovering kestrel appeared on the horizon, and on closer inspection was wrestling with a large dragonfly that its eventually dropped. A few meadow pipit were flushed on my way back. At this time of year upland fences and dry stone walls can be rich pickings for migrant passerines. Hence a nearby wall proudly displayed a pair of vocal stonechat and a female wheatear.

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