July 1997

Friday 4th July – Wales – Driving down to Southwest Wales via the Wells. The steep hills towards Welshpool are a mixture of Oaks, Beeches, Larches and the magnificent deep red of Copper Beeches. Often high above these woods floats a circling Common Buzzard. The road from Newtown through Llandrindod Wells, Builth Wells onto Llandovery winds its way through Powys mountains. Being summer it is full of tourists and thus rather too slow for my liking.

Saturday 5th July – Dale, Dyfed – A short walk along the beach finds very few birds. The tiny Shelduck offspring of a few weeks ago are now the size of their parents – and many have survived.

Sunday 6th July – St Brides – The party from the night before has left me rather comatose, so it is late afternoon before we all head off to St Brides. The tiny inlet is being rapidly filled by the tide. We find shrimps, blennies and crabs in the rock pools. Transparent jellyfish float in the sea. On closer examination, they reveal small purple parts – organs of some kind? Dill the Dog and Buster have great fun swimming after their frisbee. From the cliffs we can see Lesser Black–backed Gulls rising off the fields and heading back to Skomer Island.

Monday 7th July – Westfield Pill, Nyeland – A short walk down the riverside track at Westfield Pil Nature Reserve. We find a few wild strawberries. The Mallard drakes are all in eclipse. A Common Buzzard swoops over a Grey Heron sitting at the top of a tree. The heron screams angrily and on the second swoop stabs its beak towards the Buzzard and then flies up to chase it off.

Saturday 12th July – Hallam Moors – Moorland to the west of Sheffield. I park next to the Redmires reservoirs and then walk up onto some grassy knolls. Here are a gaggle of birders all watching for a Montagu’s Harrier that has been reported on the lines. But it had not been seen for over half an hour and does not emerge during the time I wait. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits sing and parachute from the sky. A flock of eleven Crossbills passes over towards the conifers around the reservoir. A Merlin flashes low over the hillside and disappears.

Tuesday 15th July – Barnsley Canal – Down the canal and across the little concrete walkway. The canal is choked with reeds and many other water plants. Common Pond Skaters zip across the surface. At the bottom some Perch are feeding. Across the meadow I can hear a Grasshopper Warbler calling but I have to go to work before I have the chance to search it out.

Huddersfield – Later in the afternoon I wander down a path at Crosland Moor. Beyond the bank beside the path is a massive quarry. Lesser Rosebay Willowherb and Ragwort are growing on the bank. There are the black and y