After more than twenty-four hours of welcome continuous rain, it finally stops after lunch. The light is wonderfully clear, always the case here on sunny days, when the wind comes from the northwest.
I drive to the middle of Gower looking for entries to add to the BTO’s Breeding Bird Survey. The little village of Ilston nestles at the end of the woodland path leading up the valley from Parkmill, and boasts a sturdy 12th century limestone Norman church, with the usual old yew tree in the churchyard. The notice board in the porch advertises creams teas on Midsummer Day at the old vicarage - £3 per head in aid of the church. Not much seems to have changed in small villages like this, where only a few miles away the noisy, changing city is a world away. I’m hoping to see a dipper, or a kingfisher on the stream by the church, and on cue a flash of blue bombs past, allowing me just a fleeting glimpse, but enough to lift my spirits.
There’s a small bungalow in the village where a retired pastor lives and he has an amazing array of bird feeders in his front garden. Clustered around a central bird table, more than a dozen feeders offer seeds, nuts and fat, all year round. There are only a few birds today; tits, a robin, collard doves and some chaffinches, but taking seeds from the top of a gatepost is a beautiful male yellowhammer. They breed on the common above the village, maybe this one is late in starting, or knows that last winter’s food source is still here. He’ll probably be in full swing with ‘a little bit of bread and no cheese’ on the common by the evening.
I didn’t see a dipper, they nest further upstream by the weir just outside the village, but the almost guaranteed beautiful grey wagtails more than compensated.