Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Worm's Head

Getting across the causeway to Worm’s Head at the western tip of Gower is always tricky, and can be dangerous. For about three and a half hours either side of high water, the Worm (old English for serpent) becomes an island, and it’s easy to get cut off by the fast flowing incoming tide. Many tourists make the trek across, some dressed in quite unsuitable attire; I’ve even seen ladies in flip-flops venturing out, but soon having second thoughts on the slippery, undulating rocks.

I’m trying to get to the very end to see the small colony of breeding auks. Once across the causeway the view back to the mainland is spectacular and my spirits rise. Rock pipits song-flight in the warm breeze, linnets and stonechats are busy amongst the dazzling yellow gorse, and a few meadow pipits flit about, but no skylarks sing. Wheatears take no heed of the determined visitors trooping along the narrow path; they probably have young already in a nest somewhere in the rocks below. The rocky bridge between the inner and middle part of the Worm sorts out the men from the boys, and is the most difficult part of the walk. Many turn back here when confronted by the sharp, and now slippery crossing. Others climb down to the rocky shore and opt for the 'clever' route; they too normally give up.

The north face of the outer head is where the seabirds nest, and from a safe distance I count the guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, kittiwakes and the few herring gulls that still breed. I keep my eyes open for puffins, but see none. A great commotion of kittiwakes, other gulls and the odd diving gannet tells me there’s a shoal of fish near the surface - usually a good place to look for porpoises.

The return journey always feels easier, especially when grey seals greet me in the sheltered waters by the causeway.

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