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  • Writer's pictureAlistair

Inspiration (and, err, perspiration)

There is nothing like a crowd of more knowledgeable enthusiasts to re-energise you in whatever you happen to do. I’ve been very lucky in terms of meeting some great people over the last couple of years, both through visits to other projects and through people visiting Cefn Garthenor.

One wet weekend at the end of July, I got inspiration, much like the rain, in bucket loads. But, with all that wet weather kit, more perspiration than was really wanted … hmmm, perhaps best to focus on the inspiration. I was lucky enough to have a large group of (largely) ecologists who I had met on a trip to find out about beavers in Bavaria in the spring. As it happens, many on the Bavaria trip were Welsh, so I suddenly had a lot more local knowledge available to me. They work in a wide range of organisations, from Wildlife Trusts to government bodies, and included a vet and an ecologist from Network Rail. These ecologists get everywhere!

For me it meant I could shut the various ID books and close my overused and frequently cursed Google Lens App (it is pretty good, but alas the same cannot be said for mobile coverage on the land, so often, with no signal, there is no instant result). I could get accurate identification from experts on the spot. Plus have access to many sets of eyes that spotted things I would have easily missed.

Given the rain was constant, we were much more successful with amphibians than butterflies, although we did get a half decent haul in the moth trap. So, frogs and toads a plenty

Baby frog (L) and toad (R)

And, of course, the odd newt

Palmate Newt

Also, going through the marshy grassland we found signs of both water voles and field voles. I already knew about the slanted soft rush cuts which are signifiers of vole activity, but it was great to compare the work of the field vole with the much bigger water vole:

Signs of Field Vole nibbles (L) and Water Vole (R)

There was much more, but this gives a feel. Plus eating drinking and, yes, a bit of ukulele accompanied singing. But, in some ways, the big take away for me was the inspiration from people who are both knowledgeable and really excited about what is happening on the land here at Cefn Garthenor. It really made me feel like things are moving in the right direction and provided a real boost.

So, thank you Ade, Al, Alicia, Angharad, Dave, Emily (on uke), Huw (with his Mary Poppins umbrella), Rachel, Sarah, Sean, Stu, Tara and Tim, plus Bonzo and Brenin.


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