Thursday, 28 June 2012

Ludi’s Cannon

When you have a three year old who lacks for nothing what do you give him for his birthday?

If, like Quince, you have the time, patience and skill, it’s obvious, you make him a cannon!
He already has a tiny one, which he loves playing with, so this one needed to be big, safe and not capable of trapping little fingers, or shooting things into people’s eyes.

It’s made from plywood and plastic pipe and fires tennis balls using an elastic band.
He’s going to have it on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Puffins and Wood Warblers in West Wales

To recover from the first week of a strenuous visit to the UK, which involved sleeping in five different peoples’ houses, and three nights camping in the woods in West Wales, by unwinding in a couple of Welsh nature reserves on the way to Manchester was a good idea. 

Skomer is an island off the coast of Pembrokeshire which, in early summer, is home to large colonies of breeding birds estimated at a total of 330,000, including 12,000 puffins, 60,000 manx shearwaters, 17,000 guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars and various gulls.  Manx Shearwaters are difficult to see. They stay out at sea during the day and only return to their burrows on dark nights when the risk of predation by greater black-backed gulls is low.  It is possible to stay overnight on the island and witness their weird calls as they locate their mates at the nest, there is, however, a long waiting list.

But it’s the puffins that are so charming!  They are really fearless and will tolerate you being only a couple of metres away as they fly to and from their nest burrows.

Thanks to Paul Hillion for the video which was taken at The Wick on Skomer.

This BBC2 video has some very good sequences of puffins fishing and pufflings, (young puffins).

Although puffins are quite capable of landing elegantly on the cliffs, I love the way they land on the sea.  They seem to prefer plopping into the water, as if they haven’t quite mastered the touchdown.  The effect is very comical!

Ynys Hir
Near Machynlleth is an RSPB reserve called Ynys Hir  known for its many pairs of nesting pied flycatchers and also for the wood warblers which can be heard in its mature oak forests.  After having been enchanted by them on my first visit in the 80’s I wanted to hear them once again.  The weather was against us since it was raining heavily but finally we found one which was singing in full view.  I was so pleased not only to hear but also to see one!

Thanks to  Paul C King of the Bradford Ornithological Group for the video

Wales is known for its rain and the visit would have been even better without it, sometimes it was raining horizontally!  The day after we left Mid-Wales there was 5 inches of rain overnight and major flooding!