My earliest recollection of being interested in nature was sitting by a cauldron of pigswill in the cool of an evening being taught about the natural world by an old man who kept a smallholding. Mr Felton kept pigs and a few chickens, and we talked about how to look after them, but what he taught me about nature, set me along a road that I have never really veered away from.
I was about ten or so and I collected bird’s eggs. In those days it seemed that all young boys did, and we didn’t give conservation a second thought. We were told to take just one egg from a nest, and I think I kept to this rule most of the time. I had no sense of breaking the law, which at that time was before even the 1954 Wild Birds Protection Act.
I’m reminded of all this as I hear a Dartford warbler singing in the gorse on the cliffs at Heatherslade. Modern day legislation gives these rare residents maximum protection; it’s even an offence to visit the nest, let alone take an egg. The same goes for the choughs, which nest in the caves to the east of me. They too are rare, and would be a target for modern day egg collectors. I’m not sure if Gower is targeted any more, but there are species here that would feature high on many a collector’s list of ‘must haves’. Thankfully the practice is now rare, and only a few hardened individuals brave the law, which over the years has been strengthened, whilst at the same time being backed up by stiffer fines and even prison sentences. We’ve come a long way since my boyhood days with Mr Felton.