Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pennard Cliffs

My mate John (he insisted on his picture being included!)

 was visiting today, so I suggested that, rather than our usual game of golf, we go for a walk along Pennard Cliffs, a National Trust-owned area on the south east of the Gower Peninsula:

It was a pleasantly warm sunny day, but rather hazy as can be seen from the above picture. The area is well-known as a stronghold for the (Red-billed) Chough, Britain's rarest crow. It has also, in recent years, been colonised by Dartford Warblers, which seem to be spreading northwards, presumably as a result of global warming. I was keen to show my friend both species. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate any Dartford Warblers, possibly due to the culling effects of the recent harsh winter, to which these birds are known to be particularly susceptible. However, I did get lucky in the same spot about this time last year, when one popped up on the Gorse in front of me, and enabled me to get my best Dartford pics to date, including this one:

We had rather more luck with Choughs, seeing first a single, then a pair, and, finally, as we headed eastward towards Hunts Bay, a flock of around ten birds. I was able to take a few shots as some of the flock flew past. Having now examined them at 100%, I am disappointed to see that none of them are pin-sharp! Unfortunately, this has been my experience on every occasion when I've tried my new Canon 7D on birds in flight: virtually every picture has been unsharp! In fact, the much-touted autofocus system of this camera has so-far proved inferior to my older 40D. I will have to do some more tests, and it could conceivably be something to do with my lens, or the camera's settings, but so far it is looking as if I will have to return this camera for repair, or sell it!

Anyway, the haze rendered invisible the view across the Bristol Channel to the blue-remembered hills of north Devon, but being able to see across Oxwich Bay to Oxwich Point was some consolation:

On the way back to the car park, I spied this patch of reddish Primroses:

 Whether they are a genuine wild variant of Primula vulgaris, or some sort of hybrid with a garden variety, I'm not sure; but they were a nice complement to the common yellow variety which was growing profusely nearby:

Back again to our starting point, and situated overlooking the sea is this building:

Now a retirement home, it was once the home of poet Vernon Watkins. Watkins was good friends with fellow poet, Dylan Thomas, and both were part of a group of Swansea-based creatives known as the Kardomah Boys. Apparantly, Thomas regularly visited Watkins, and the two sometimes played croquet on the lawn beyond the hedge in the picture!


  1. Stunning photography,the Dartford Warbler is Magic.
    First class.

  2. Hi Jeremy, great site. The background on the Dartford Warbler is magic!

  3. Hi, Thanks for your comment. Enjoyed your site, too. Regarding the Dartford Warbler shot: just a case of being in the right place at the right time!

  4. Cracking shot of the Dartford Warbler.

    I have seen mixed reviews about the 7D and am rather glad that I wasn't able to afford one - I have the 40D.

    Re the reddish primrose, we get the occasional plant like that in our area as well.

  5. Thanks for your comments. According to Iolo Williams, there are Dartfords on the hills above Port Talbot, so maybe I need to try there!

  6. That's a wonderful shot of the dartford warbler. You must have been patient. Regards, Phil.