A singing yellowhammer makes me stop the car in a lay-by above the village of Ilston. The lovely song sends a chill down my spine, it’s part of my soul, and their demise saddens me beyond words. July is the best month for them, and there are still a few left breeding on Gower cliffs and commons.
It’s been hot of late, and already some grasses are turning brown. Gower commons are never completely green. By mid-July, grasses and bracken are greening, but as the weather warms, carpets of browning grass seeds appear, mixing with swaths of dancing cotton; it’s as though high summer is never able to get a grip on the land. Cattle sit chewing cud, some in the centre of the road, and all ignoring the traffic slowing down to a crawl. Ponies too gather by the roadside, but there are no sheep, they’ve probably been transported to far away pastures for the summer, or perhaps they’re in nearby fields hidden by high verdant hedges.
I look for butterflies and find only meadow browns. I’d earlier walked through the wood from Ilston Church to Parkmill, and here too butterflies were rare, with just a couple of speckled woods in a sunny glade, and some meadow browns in the churchyard. It will take more than a spell of hot weather to redress the balance.