(English) Courting Kites

Another bitterly cold Tuesday but yet again dry!  Although John had a cold and couldn’t come, we were very glad to welcome Howard Mead.  And thanks also to Sue Davies, Marigold Oakley, Liz Taylor and Dr. Michael Isaac who have expressed their interest.  Once Spring does finally decide to arrive we will need all the help we can get.

This week we headed down to the Double-Walled Garden but apart from a wren busily hunting insects amongst the cabbages we didn’t see much and headed into the comfort of the Tropical House to warm up before proceeding.  And to illustrate just how cold it was when we got to the bees garden none of the hives were active.  Last week 5 of them had been very busy.

But despite the cold there is a splendid display of miniature daffodils behind the bee garden, and the Carmarthen speciality the  Derwydd daffodils.  A botanists delight but very scruffy looking to anyone else.

Down the broadwalk to the stream by the gatehouse but no sign of Otter spraint, so off to retrieve the camera which had been set up behind the polytunnels.  Alas no further pictures or any sort there, just the set of 3 that had been taken by the gatehouse the previous week.  And lo and behold, when I took the camera back home and looked at it – not the resident black and white Cat but a rather handsome looking Fox.  But down by the stream definite evidence that something had scrambled down the bank – possibly Otter.

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Back across to the first lake by the Aqualab and 4 clumps of Frog Spawn which looked healthy.  And yet more Elf Cups in the woods there, a Nuthatch chirruping away and a Robin to keep us company as we walked through.  And by the weather station an interesting clump of what looked like fish roe, or maybe unfertilised frog or toad spawn – carefully collected for the delight of and examination by Jane Richmond, head of education.

Then, high in the sky a couple of courting Red Kites – wheeling around and gently buffeting each other. Perhaps they will they breed in the Garden.  One or more of them are a regular sight around the Garden.  As we learnt when we had the bird walk with Daniel from the RSPB, the breeding success of these birds in Wales is only around 25% compared with 50% in England. This is due to the fact that although Wales was where they held on when faced with extinction, the habitat is not well suited to them and they are probably more in-bred than their English cousins.  This may improve as they continue to spread and different populations meet up.

Then on down by the second lake,  Llyn Uchaf in an attempt to get shelter from the wind, and we were rewarded by the sight of a Heron rising just in front of us like some primeval pterodactyl and quite a lot of Moorhens and Coots.   On to the third lake, Llyn Canol, where there were plenty of Teal.  But by now the cold was beginning to tell,  so off to the Great Glasshouse past the increasing threadbare Bull -  a excellent source of nesting material!  Entry into the Great Glasshouse to be greeted by the most beautiful scents – and warmth – then off to the cafe for tea and a chat.

For further information send an email to Colin Miles.

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