The wake of the day up the Folly
|The Wake of the Day|
We are yet again enduring another lockdown in many parts of the country due to this horrid Coronavirus. Here in Torfaen, it's now called a local lockdown and we are restricted to remain within the boundaries of the borough unless you have got to travel for work or have some other special exemption. So I am back to my local patch again and Goldcliff Lagoons is well out of bounds. I am fortunate to live in a fantastic part of the world with lots of opportunities for wildlife and landscape photography and if there is one thing I do like, is taking sunrise pictures.
This weekend the weather forecast was looking promising but I was going to need some luck as the cloud was forecast around dawn but I decided to take the risk and chance, catching a good sunrise. I have become quite familiar with getting up at "stupid o'clock" to get out of the house before first light to try and get a sunrise. It's also one of the best times of the day to be out, as that's when nature starts to wake up and a great deal of the wildlife is at their most active.
I love the freshness of the air on an early morning start, especially on a cold and clear morning.
On Saturday morning I made my way to Pontypool Folly walking from my house. The skies to the west were clear of cloud and the planet Mars, which is currently at the closest to the Earth it will be for 15 years, was a red star shining brightly ahead of me as I marched through the deserted streets of my neighborhood.
I had slept late and was doing a quickstep march with all my camera kit so that I could get the Folly before first light. As I headed up the mountain towards the Shell Grotto, even the sheep were stunned at my sudden appearance as it was still very dark. I got to the Grotto and looked East. Things were looking reasonably good. The sky was not very clear, as a big band of clouds had swept in, but the cloud layer was thin, and on the horizon, an orange band was developing, heralding the arrival of the sun.
By the time I had reached the Folly the whole eastern sky was turning a mix of pink, red, yellow, and orange. It was getting quite psychedelic with the light from the sun that remained below the horizon bouncing off the layers of clouds creating an amazing effect. I always think the presence of clouds always make a sunrise or sunset sky look better as long as there is not too much of them to obscure the sun from view or smother the light.
|Behold the sun is coming|
I had all but myself for company, as mother nature began to wake the world up. As I set up my camera a pair of Ravens circled above me taking a keen interest on what the crazy human was doing being up at this time of the morning, a Buzzard was calling from a nearby dead tree as if announcing the sun was on its way and a herd of very docile cattle sniffed the cold morning air as if to check my scent out. I hope I smelled nice :)
|The sky begins to burn to signal the arrival of the sun|
Every now and again small flocks of Redwings passed through over the top of the mountain. It's great to see these autumn migrants arriving for the winter. The hawthorn trees are ripe with berries which they will feast upon after their long flights to Wales.
Once I was set up it was time to take a look at how the sky was developing. The view was fantastic. From the Folly you get a really good panoramic view that stretches from the Skirrid in Abergavenny, over Goytre, Little Mill, New Inn, Llandegfydd, Wentwood, Griffithstown, Cwmynscoy, Sebastapol, and Cwmbran. In the far distance, you can see Newport and the Severn Estuary and on a clear day even the top of the Prince of Wales Bridge. It is no surprise the Hanbury family decided to build the Folly tower on such a spot.
The clouds were swirling a lot as a wind had swept up and it was getting quite chilly. The sun started to rise and the light reflected off the clouds flooding the sky with warm colors which made it far more atmospheric than just a plain blue backdrop.
I was in luck as the horizon was just clear enough for the sun to rise and illuminate the sky like a burning fireball. It's amazing to think that such a sight is practically just a miles walk from my home - practically on my doorstep.
|The sun rises.|
I love just standing there for a minute or two and feel the warmth of the new sun rays on the skin of my face. It really makes me feel refreshed and raring to start my day.
When I took a quiet moment to look around I noticed a small clump of flowers growing. I believe they were Harebells, also known as Scottish Bluebells. Amazing to see them flowering at this time of year.
The sunrise is always quick once it starts and soon it was getting too high in the sky for good photography. It was time for me to now head back. I took a circuitous route back walking through Pontypool Park and along the Afon Llwyd River.
The trees in the park are now starting to turn some fantastic colors. Autumn is certainly here now and the drop in temperatures will cause all the trees to break out into a myriad of yellows, reds, oranges, and brown. Autumn is always an amazing feast for the eyes when you are out and about in the parkland and woodland.
The rugby pitch was full of Black Headed Gulls that were busy "worming" the damp soil. I could hear a Buzzard calling and then noticed that it had also joined the Gulls and was feeding on the worms. The gulls got spooked by a dog walker and up they went into the sky, taking the Buzzard with them. The raptor initially perched on the rugby stand before eventually settling in a nearby tree.
Heading along the river, the most notable wildlife was a single female Goosander and a very skittish Dipper.
With beautiful natural vistas and wildlife like this in easy reach of my home, I can't complain about the lockdown really and any worries or stress I had been carrying with me, was all but a distant memory once I had walked home.