We had such a good time wildlife watching in Wales. At first it was all simple wonder and enjoyment : ‘Look – there’s a…….’. But soon it all got quite competitive. Sarah bought an ‘I-Spy’ book – remember those? It was birds she decided to hunt for, and we all got involved in deciding whether it was guillemots, Manx shearwaters, or simple herring gulls that we’d just seen. And look! There’s a cormorant on that rock over there! And three choughs sitting on a wall! And over in those bushes – surely that’s a willow warbler?
The day that we were in no doubt at all about the quantity of our wildlife sightings was the Sunday when we took a boat trip round Ramsay Island. There were indeed birds (but no puffins: it’s off-season for them): but what we relished seeing in huge numbers were seals, swimming in the coves, basking on the shore, or in the case of the white new-born pups, beached high up on some sheltered spot away from in-coming tides.
Ramsay Island’s a splendid place. These days it’s an RSPB bird reserve, and there were seabirds of course: not so many at the moment as the breeding season is over. Easy to see though where they nested – very precariously – on the rock faces which are heavily stained with guano. Sucked along by powerful tides, we plunged into sea caves, rode close to the shore squeezed between deep rock gorges as the cliffs soared high above us. We’re fairly sure we saw porpoises clipping along at speed just as we were turning for the mainland once more.
Every time we went walking we came to expect to engage in bird and seal spotting. But on Saturday, as we strode the cliffs of the coastal path, we came across this vole, and his (her?) two companions. The image you can see on your screen is almost certainly larger than the real thing. We were so lucky to have seen such a tiny creature, and so clearly.
A few minutes later, I was the only one to spot a lizard: my first sighting since leaving France.
And then there was the evening when we went for a walk, and found ourselves accompanied by a whole troupe of friendly steers, who wanted nothing more than to follow us home, and to help us along with our map-reading….