The autumn bird migration is now in full swing in south Wales and almost every day migrating birds are being spotted at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, where they’re stopping off to refuel before they tackle their long flights to warmer over-wintering locations in Europe and Africa. One that I find particularly charming is the Spotted flycatcher (Muscicapa striata), which is not really spotted at all, more streaky and stripy. The scientific name is more accurate: Muscicapa is a combination of the Latin word musca, meaning fly, and capere, meaning to catch, and the epithet striata is from the Latin striatus, meaning striated.
I saw my first Spotted flycatcher at Cossie on 7 August.
A week later, on the 15th, I had two sightings.
The 20th was a bumper day, with three birds, two obviously travelling together, and another doing its own thing.
And last Friday, the 24th, a birding friend put me on to a single bird, that was catching flies in the paddock I walked through on my way home. Fingers crossed I manage to see a few more before they all disappear for the winter.
And I thought yesterday was hot!
On day 26 of #30DaysWild the temperature hit 29°C here in Penarth, even hotter than yesterday. And while people may be enjoying this weather (I am not!), it’s really tough for wildlife. I’m not sure what caused this little shrew to die but it’s easy to believe it was the heat, or perhaps thirst. We’ve had a couple of dry months now, and ponds and streams are running low and / or drying up. So, if you’re in a position to put water out for the birds and the beasties, please do – they really need all the help they can get right now.
During my walk in Bute Park a few days ago, I saw my first signs of spring. And, though I love winter – as I love each of the seasons for the differences they offer – still, it is always heart-warming, when the days are short and cold and often grey, to see small signs, like these snowdrops, of the earth’s re-awakening.
There is so much to love about autumn: it’s as if Nature is an award-winning play, and all the trees are her actors. She’s coming to the end of another successful season, it’s the last grand finale, the players are dressed in magnificent richly coloured costumes ready to take their final bows before a rapturous audience amidst great critical acclaim … and then the curtain comes down for another year.
Determination. Persistence. Resistance. Constancy.
Humans have cleared the land of ‘weeds’; laid a gravel path edged with a concrete strip; planted a bed of ornamental shrubs (many of which have died); and mulched that garden bed with metal chips yet, in spite of all that destruction of its habitat, this little Colt’s-foot (Tussilago farfara) has managed to push through and begin to flower.
I went for a lovely long walk around parts of Cardiff Bay yesterday and it was sunny and warm, so warm that I had to strip off my scarf and the thin jumper I was wearing over my t-shirt and under my fleece. Spring was definitely in the air and, on my return walk home, I discovered I wasn’t the only one to be feeling the temperature change. These crocuses were putting on a glorious display in the churchyard of St Augustine’s and in the small grassy area just down the hill from the church. Beautiful!