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  • Writer's pictureAlistair

Love is in the air (and in the ditches)

It’s all going on at Cefn Garthenor. Winter has been making way for spring which is, of course, the time for new life. And there certainly is a hell of a lot of it here. The start of March saw the lesser celandine in flower, followed shortly after by primrose and snowdrops. Frog spawn started appearing in the ditches, even puddles, and best of all in the new ponds and scrapes. The daffodils on the track were a little late for St David’s Day, but they are fully out now.

Left to Right: Lesser Celandine, Primrose and Frogs Spawn in ditch

Lambing at my neighbours is in full swing and while I have not tested my Galloways, many of the cows/heifers are looking to be in calf. Sir Loin, the bull I got last August, seems to have done his stuff. New arrivals are expected by May. I have to say, though, that Sir Loin, while ruggedly handsome, was no Casanova. The ladies occasionally get a lick behind the ears, but that seems to be more about marking his territory than genuine affection. Everything else looked pretty brutal. But enough anthropomorphic clap trap and on to the real courtship and a first sighting …

As regular readers will know, I have been working with the INCC (Initiative for Nature Conservation Cymru) who are way more knowledgeable on all things ecological than me. Back in early March, Vaughn visited and set up a couple of camera traps, including one down in the marshy grassland looking along a water filled ditch. He came and retrieved the footage earlier this week hoping to get some video of water voles. But what he actually got something much more exciting … a pair of otters.

Otters are normally solitary so two adults together is a sure sign that they have plans for parenthood which is very good news. They have clearly found enough food for the time being. At this time of year (in fact for most of the year) the ditches here are running with water, but there are no fish. However, as evidenced by all the frog spawn, there are plenty of frogs, certainly enough to provide a decent diet, doubtless supplemented by the occasional vole. In another area, wooded and again close to water, Vaughn found otter spraint (not sure why ecologists can’t just call a spade a spade … it’s otter poo) which they use to mark territory and paths. So who knows, but we might get some otter pups in due course.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, love is in the air. A pair of barn owls (I suspect the same couple as had chicks last year) are back around the barn owl box. The male is wooing the female, showing his hunting prowess and bringing her gifts of vole. Beats a box of milk tray chocolates …


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