Letter from a Gower Naturalist by NEVILLE DOUGLAS-JONES I AM DELIGHTED TO HEAR that you are coming to stay in Gower at last. You ask me, when is the best time to come ? The short answer is always now. For Gower is always at its best for the naturalist. If you press for a preference then, surely, the periods of migration, April and September, will appeal most to you. We are keen conservationists here. We are ever-watchful of our amenities and together with the famous Gower Society our Gower Ornithological Society focuses attention on the dangers which, from time to time, threaten the wild unspoilt places. The Penrice Estate covers large parts of Gower and its owner, the Hon. Christopher Methuen-Campbell, proposes to create a nature reserve at Oxwich Marsh. He plans to do this in conjunction with the Gower Ornithological Society and there will be no shooting on the area so you can look forward to seeing Sparrow Hawks alive, instead of hanging dead on a keeper's gibbet. Oxwich Marsh contains one of the two heronries in Glamorgan. It is in the private grounds of Penrice Castle and is most zealously guarded. The last time I visited it there were seventeen occupied nests, so do not be surprised to see a heron feeding on the Llanrhidian Saltings, or in the rock pools off Oxwich Head. You may ask, why is the local Ornithological Society limited to Gower ? It is because the Peninsula is as complete in itself and in its varied habitats as one could ever hope for. I will show you mudflats and a tidal estuary, woodlands, moorlands, marshes and cliffs. We have but a few small streams. Just now the Winter Migrants are here in force. It will delight you to walk on the shoreline at Blackpill, just before high water to see the Dunlin and the Curlew. You must also see the pearly- grey Sanderlings which run just like clock-work toys on the beach. The Oystercatchers leave the shore at high-tide to roost, with the Herring Gulls and Black-headed Gulls, on the University playing fields nearby. During September, we watched the Terns restlessly skimming the waves at Broughton Bay, flying over the Worm's Head causeway and over Sedger's Bank, Port Eynon. Is it not extraordinary that this lovely bird makes its annual migration from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again ? One would have thought that this instinctive movement, stemming presumably from the last Ice Age would have stopped long ago, for it certainly does not need to travel so far for its food. We have noticed from the records which we keep each year, that more and more terns pause here on their southward journey If you are lucky you may even see a Black Tern. Recently, I recognized two in their autumn plumage and I was so grateful to you for recommending Petersen's Field Guide to the Birds of Britain," it is quite the best book for bird-watchers.
This text was generated automatically from the scanned page and has not been checked. Typical character accuracy is in excess of 99%, but this leaves one error per 100 characters.
The National Library of Wales has created and published this digital version of the journal under a licence granted by the publisher. The material it contains may be used for non-commercial purposes only while respecting the moral rights of the creators.