Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Author’s Stone

There are many King Arthur’s Stones in the UK; ours sits just below the ridge of Cefn Bryn, plumb in the centre of Gower.  The view from here can be superb, but I see no panorama through occasional sheets of very fine drizzle slowly drifting up from the estuary below.  This Neolithic burial chamber dating from about 2,500 BC is a magnet for tourist on fine days. I sit in peace, sheltering under its huge stone from the threatening rain, and listen for the bubble of a curlew; I come up here each year at this time more in hope than expectation.  Curlews bred on the bracken-covered common below in the past, but I fear they may never return.  They’re in decline everywhere now, and I must go to the uplands of central Wales to find them in summertime. 

The sporadic rain of recent days has forced migrants to the ground, especially wheatears.  The male feeding just a few yards from my ancient hide is oblivious of his watcher; he won’t breed here, there will be too much disturbance, but these rocky outcrops in this open country would be ideal.  Skylarks are returning to the common to breed, no song on this soggy morning, but some flutter above the flat bracken, perhaps in pursuit of females.  Meadow pipits are active too, one even attempting half-hearted song-flights in the cold, damp air.

Down below on the plain to the east sits Broad Pool, another Wildlife Trust reserve; there’s no shelter here, but no rain either.  A little grebe trills from the cover of the far bank, but it’s the sand martins, swooping low over the water, that speak of spring.  Almost never silent in flight, I wonder what insects they find on this cold day, and how they survive the sudden changes of temperature in our ever-varying weather.

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