Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Great weekend in Gower - Friday to Sunday 13 to 15 May 2011

It took me seven hours instead of four and a half to get to the St Madoc's Christian Camp on Gower, because of a crash on the M5 so I was a little tired on the first night. We had a welcome evening meal followed by a talk by Sir Ghillian Prance. He shared some of his experiences in the Amazon in which his study and discoveries demonstrated again the wonderful and interdependent world that God created and sustains. Some of us then went out to set small mammal traps and also some moth traps.
An early-ish start (0630) to check the moth traps and set up the nets for bird ringing. Moths found included cinnabar clinging to the vanes of the trap, heart and dart, triple lines and this wonderful Ermine
   A quick trip to the headland meant a short walk through hundreds of bloody cranesbills growing amongst bluebells and burnet rose. We counted over a thousand oystercatchers leaving a high tide roost to go off to feed. It was then time for breakfast.

 After this different teams were then off for various surveys. We had marine biologists, bird ringers, botanists, folk checking butterflies, surveying transects for non marine birds and  some of us scanning the beach and sea for marine birds. On the beach whilst looking for the birds we discovered some fascinating and some gruesome finds. I understand that the skeleton was a common dolphin.

 After lunch we repeated the exercise and for me it was good to see some shearwaters and a small flock of dunlin. We did have to mess our feet up as we walked along the beach

 On our way back to base, some of us took the easier, if longer route. It meant we missed seeing a grass snake, but were able to find a song thrush anvil and an orchid. Foolishly I had not brought my "Francis Rose" so I was unable to identify the specimen. After tea ( or dinner if you live in the south) we shared many of our findings then out again to check mammal traps, light up moth traps and armed with detectors, search for bats. We did hear common and soprano pipistrelle as well as lesser horseshoe.
First thing Sunday was a repeat of our Saturday net unfurling, moth trap emptying and mammal trap checking. Another quick sea scan revealed little movement. Due to this I decided to follow the botanists who were also examining the underside of various bits of tin or rugs for reptiles. Success !! I saw slow worms, common lizards and the larvae of a glow worm.

 Lunch was followed by a short service where we all thanked God for His amazing creation. More thanks to the Centre staff who had looked after us so well, then homeward bound after a tremendous weekend.
An official report will be published later this year

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