Saturday, 22 July 2017

Lots of Summer Left

We get wind here, lots of it, but during the summer, mostly just sea breezes. Even when it’s perfectly still inland, there’s usually a breeze on the cliffs, but evening frequently brings with it calm and peace. There’s a slight chill to tonight’s breeze, and from on my perch high above the sea, there are signs of high summer waning, and the new season creeping in. The purples of heather are beginning to emerge and mix with remnants of yellow on the low-lying gorse, forming a glorious natural carpet typical of some parts of the Gower cliffs in autumn. Elsewhere swaths of mature bracken hide the seeds of nettles and docks, and open patches of tall grasses sway fawn-coloured in the wind. Teasels are mostly left with only purple tips, but great and rosebay willowherb are still in full flower. Blackberries have both flowers and red berries, and the one black berry I taste is still hard and very sour. Buddleia is in full flower in the gardens along East Cliff, but not much-visited by butterflies again this year. There are a few newly hatched red admirals being blown about in the wind, but on this summer evening, there are no other butterflies to be seen.

Stonechats, now independent of their parents, are beginning to lose their spotted plumage and show signs of rusty breasts. It’s the time of year when small birds are difficult to see in the dense vegetation, and even though there are lots of juveniles about, most stay hidden. Many adults have started their annual moult and will stay under cover avoiding predators.

Above Bacon Hole a pair of choughs feeds a noisy full-grown chick, and below, fulmars still wheel about above the sea. There are early signs of autumn, but there’s still a lot of summer left.

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