I have a feeling my readers probably just like me have never wandered so much around their local patches. I have practically been born and bred where I live and I continue to discover new places and also fall in love again with old locations whilst I do my one lockdown exercise walk a day.
I am getting fitter by the day. Most of the local haunts are on my doorstep - literally, I can cross the road and I am in the wood. Some others require some effort. I walked my furthest yesterday to a wood where Pied Flycatchers are. I grossly underestimated the distance and it turned became more like a forced quick march. I am pleased though that I have stayed local and not given in to the temptation of jumping in the car and motoring off somewhere to go bird-watching.
My wanderings have resulted in me often seeking out new local woodland. I have found some amazing woods quite close to the New Inn Village in a place called Trostra Common. A number of them have huge Beech Trees and are in quite a good state of preservation. Its a shame that almost all the woods are suffering damage from youths ( older 16-20 yrs) who have been using shovels to dig mounds and ramps for mountain bike tracks. In my opinion, its damaging the woods and looks horrendous. They were also clearly breaching lockdown.
|Wood near Trostra common|
The woods at Trostra are clearly ancient with the majority of key indicator species of wildflowers present. Lovely carpets of Bluebells, large spreads of Wood Anemone and Celandines. There were some lovely beds of Greater Stichwort in several locations.
The sounds of bird song have filled each and every wood. I am amazed this year at the numbers of Blackcaps. They seem to be legion in numbers everywhere, their songs seem to dominate the airwaves. Chiff Chaffs and Willow Warblers have been seen on my travels throughout the area. It's incredible to think that the vast majority choristers have travelled all the way from Africa to the Gwent woods to breed.
|Blackcap in full song|
Whilst on my travels I have been keen to learn the names of the wildflowers I have been finding. I've been finding it quite rewarding as my knowledge is slowly growing and it's making me a little more observant of the varied and wonderful flora we have.
|Wood Avens (aka Herb Bennet)|
|There Cornered Garlic|
|Ramsons "Wild Garlic"|
I must confess my bird watching has been rather a mixed bag over lockdown. I have been keeping eye on some breeding Dippers on the Afon Llwyd, there is a pair of Buzzards that seem to follow me around at a distance, my garden bird feeders have been busy with a squadron of Starlings and a small army of House Sparrows dominating the bird table until a pair of Magpies turn up and I have had little or no success in getting close to any warblers. My highlights have been getting near to a beautiful male Pheasant and watching a Pied Flycatcher that was high up in a woodlands canopy.
I am missing Goldcliff Lagoons like a lost limb. This time last year I was down there whenever I could spare the time. I've had an update from Friends of Goldcliff concerning the birding goings-on there. The reserve wardens have reported that the waders have been bust building nests and some have had chicks. The reserve remains closed. I wonder how Flossy the Glossy is doing?
One thing I was glad off last weekend wad to find a spot locally that I could take some nice sunset pictures. I must admit I am so lucky to live in a wonderful part of Wales and the lockdown has made me appreciate it even more.
|Sunset over Pontypool Park|
|Sunset close to the Shell Grotto.|
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