As promised here is a recap of my recent hiking/camping/bird watching holiday along the Pembrokeshire coastline. We were very luckily with the weather and it only rained once in the 7 days we were there – but when it did rain it rained HARD! But apparently that is to be expected in Wales 😉
We started our journey at Manorbier. Before we even got off the train I spotted a female Bullfinch out of the train window, then a male popped up right in front of us on our way from the station to our campsite, these birds are more of a rare treat around London so I was chuffed to get such great views! That evening we also enjoyed numerous swallows and house martins darting and swooping around us as we sat outside our tent enjoying some Welsh cider/ale.
The next day we walked from our campsite at Manorbier to Bosherston. The first half of the day was glorious but by midday it was absolutely pouring it down, we we’re sodden through and cursing our heavy packs! Not ideal conditions for bird watching at Stackpole as planned so when we arrived in Bosherston at around 3ish we headed straight to St Govans Country Inn (I recommend it!) where we spent the rest of the afternoon drying off, playing scrabble, eating Cowl (a hearty Welsh soup) and drinking cider/ale until the rain stopped and we conjured up the energy to go and pitch our tent at the campsite around the corner. The rain finally cleared and it turned out to be a lovely evening for a walk along the beautiful Broad Haven South beach.
The next day the weather was perfect for exploring Stackpole where we were constantly surrounded by thousands of Meadow Brown and Ringlet butterflies plus a few lovely Dark Green Fritillaries and wonderfully camouflaged Graylings.
At Stackpole Head we got some great views of Guillemots, Razorbills, a single Gannet in flight, a pair of nesting Fulmar and our first glimpse of a lovely family of Choughs, a bird we were lucky enough to see multiple times throughout the trip. There were also quite a few Rock pipits around and Skylarks singing constantly above the surrounding coastal grassland.
The next day we packed up the tent and walked to Stack Rocks where there were literally hundreds and hundreds of Guillemots. These noisy birds have the smallest nesting territory of any other; each individuals territory basically comprises of the area in which they stand. This means they can pack in pretty tight together!
After a few hours at Stack Rocks we hopped on a bus to Angle where we camped out before walking to Pembroke the next day. The first part of this walk took us around East Angle bay where we saw Oystercatchers, Redshank and Curlew feeding along the shoreline. We would have stayed for longer but we had a way to walk and heavy packs on our back, but I reckon this would be an excellent place to spot a few more wading birds if you have a few hours!
After camping in Pembroke we spent the next day travelling to our final destination of Martin’s Haven stopping off at a few places along the way. The campsite we stayed at in Martin’s Haven was just a stones throw away from Skomer Island. A sunset walk up on to the last peninsula of land (known as the Deer Park, despite the lack of deer…) looking out on to the island is highly recommended! I was hoping to catch a glimpse of some Manx Shearwater flying in to spend the night on the island after spending the day at sea, but really you need a telescope if you have any hope of seeing more than black specs with wings from this point! Still a beautiful walk and we saw Linnets, Stonechats, a hovering Buzzard and another family of Choughs. Fantastic birds!
The next day we got up early to queue for boat tickets over to Skomer Island. Even so the 10am trip was full by the time we got to the front of the queue so we were given the 11am instead. Lucky for us as we were entertained by a male Peregrine swooping and diving in pursuit of a Kestrel while we waited. Great display!
But the time we made it on to the island the sun was high in the sky, It was a beautiful day and the island itself was a wildlife wonderland! We saw more Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Wheatear, Sedge warbler, Reed bunting, a Gannet that flew over the boat on the way over….. And of course, lots and lots of Puffins!
The island was covered in many wondrous plants, the identity of most of which is unknown to me and it occurs to me I should have taken a few more photos for ID purposes…. What I did note was the extensive cover of Thrift (or Sea pink) that forms these little bright green cushions topped with lollipops of pink flowers.
Just writing about it makes me wish I was back there! My favourite bird? Probably the choughs. But I loved all of them, although buzzard is a bird I see regularly around London watching it hunting whilst the sun was setting at Martin’s Haven was pretty magical.
I put this in my last blog post but here it is again – the video my boyfriend made of the trip, you can see the buzzard in the opening sequence.
I can’t wait for the next holiday but as I always say there are still lots of wildlife adventures to be had around London! On Saturday I will be exploring Bookham Common for the first time with the lovely people from the London Natural History Society. Looking forward to it 🙂