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

Saturday, 21 March 2020


Water is generally an unacknowledged landscape feature of Blaenavon. Disused reservoirs, ponds, streams and marshy grassland all conspire to mop up after a period of rain. So on a recent excursion to the Garn yr erw area it was no surprise to find this sodden environment extensively damaged by the repeated actions of bikers and four wheel drivers. Modern day tram lines were etched in the mud along a promoted walking route. I wonder about the mentality of those who pursue this activity. Yes, fun it may be, but highly damaging to a landscape with an international status. Do they care? It doesn't look like it. They ride without fear of the consequences. Three youngsters passed me on their bikes. Down a footpath they went opening two field gates on the way, churning up the path in their wake, then up the main Blaenavon to Brynmawr Road. No licence plates, no insurance, no Police to be seen. Modern day bandits, stealing a landscape from those who have a deeper and more appreciative understanding of its history both natural and social.  

On a cheerier note, nature has a habit of fighting back, after all this area was abused by our mining forefathers but is now an ecological treasure trove. There was some birdlife. Meadow pipits were widespread with several skylark too. A couple of stonechat regularly dropped out of sight from their fence post perches just to reappear from the cover of ground vegetation moments later, gradually working their way along a checkered field boundary of wooden posts and remnant dry stone walls, with an occasional lichen covered hawthorn. While five bikers rode a nearby tip I watched a red kite drift overhead. Turning up hill away from the hum of  the bikers I flushed a snipe from beneath my feet. I could hear a reed bunting eventually finding it ground feeding on a bank of a small redundant reservoir.

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