Sunday, 24 May 2015

May 23rd - St Davids & Marloes Sands

Yet another early morning start, but this time with Helen and we set off for Wales and the Pembrokeshire coastal park.  By 7.00am we were crossing the Severn Bridge, and we arrived in Marloes at around 9.30am, far too early to get into the cottage so we took a drive around the area.

We stopped just outside Dale and had a coffee while looking out across the  sea towards Milford Haven.

To our left there were Whitethroat and Blackcap singing and another lovely view north up the valley.

It was going to be a beautiful day, but with the car full, and us not able to get to the cottage until the early afternoon we decided to head to St davids for a walk around the cathedral, before heading back to Haverfordwest to do some shopping (!).

St Davids is the smallest City in the country, due to the cathedral that dominates the area.  A place of worship has been here since the 6th century.

In the 6th century, David founded a monastery and church at Glyn Rhosyn (Rose Vale) on the banks of the River Alun. The area was originally known in the Welsh language as Mynyw and to the Romans as Meneva or Menevia. The monastic brotherhood that David founded was very strict, besides praying and celebrating masses, they cultivated the land and carried out many crafts, including beekeeping, in order to feed themselves and the many pilgrims and travellers who needed lodgings. They also fed and clothed the poor and needy.   

The settlement that grew up around the monastery was called Tyddewi meaning "David's house". In 519 the archbishopric of Caerleon in the county of Monmouth was transferred to Mynyw, which was renamed "St Davids" in honour of the archbishop and saint by whom the transfer was accomplished.  The original cathedral built on the site was often plundered by the Vikings and was finally burnt and destroyed in 1087. The present cathedral was built by the Normans.

The area was lovely and clean and tidy, and looking lovely in the sunshine.

In the 16th century a town was recognised as a city by the English Crown if it had a diocesan cathedral within its limits, but this link was abolished in 1888 and St Davids lost the right to call itself a city. In 1991 St Davids town council proposed that a case for city status, which the residents had long considered it to have anyway, should be promoted in connection with the 40th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and in 1992 the Home Office agreed to refer the matter to Buckingham Palace. In 1994, at the request of the Queen, St Davids was again granted city status.

After stopping for a drink we made our way back to the car, and then set off for haverfordwest.  After picking up the weeks shopping we finally made our way to our cottage in Marloes.  

After settling in it was off for a walk in the sunshine, the wind though was still cool, but in sheltered spots the sun was warm.  We took a footpath across a field heading south towards Marloes Sands.  The footpath met a road at a farm that was full of Swallows and House Martins around the barns.  They were also taking advantage of mud in the fields to build their nests.

In the sun butterflies were about, and there were plenty of Wall Browns along the hedgerows.

From the road we took a path towards the beach.  Along the side of the path were cocoons of silk full of caterpillars.  The fully developed larvae were beautiful with their blue and grey markings and on the head two black spots on a blue grey head.

It turns out that these are the caterpillars of the Gypsy Moth, and are quite destructive and we could see them devouring the leaves, and in many places the bushes were bare of any leaves.  The larvae first appaer about 3 mm long but grow until they reach this stage here.

At this stage they weave a silken net to hide in as they pupate.

We walked down the path, and then headed towards the beach.  The surrounding fields were grazed by sheep, and a black crow like bird caught my eye feeding on the grass.

It was a fair way off, but as I watched it I could see red legs and a red bill, it was a Chough.

Not the best of views, but the bird I was looking forward to seeing on this trip, lets hope there are more and closer views.

As we walked onto the beach you were immediately surrounded by some wonderful scenery.

And also some amazing geology, the layered rocks having been tilted at some time and eroded by the sea, but leaving these amazing collection of rocks on the beach.  These are known as the Raggle Rocks, a fitting name.

From the beach we made our way to the coastal path, and headed west.  In places it was sheltered and there were plenty of butterflies about, but not all were stopping.  Helen found this lovely Small Copper sitting amongst the dead gorse branches.

The fields at the top of the cliff were left fallow and not grazed, in amongst the brambles were Stonechat.

We were just about to turn off the path and head across a field towards the Mere, nut stopped as a butterfly flew around us, it looked larger than the Walls that had been quite numerous, and sure enough when it settled on the ground it was a painted Lady.  It looks quite dull and worse for wear as a result of its migration from Europe.

Nice to see that they are making it through now, hopefully it will be a good year for them in the UK.

We set off across the field and almost immediately found this lovely Common Blue in the grass.

The footpath took us down to the Marloes Mere, an area of marsh and open water.  Swallows, House Martins and Swifts hawked over the wetland, and along the path two Broad Bodied Chasers hawked for insects.

This one is a female, the male being blue on the abdomen.  I did see a male but it would not rest like the females seem to be prepared to do.

We carried on past the mere, and then onto the road we had originally followed, at the farm the Swallows were still chattering away on the wires.

To get back to the village we took a shaded footpath where there were Speckled Woods flying.  Helen came across this red-tailed Bumblebee.  We were able to watch it digging a hole, kicking the soil out with its back legs.

It was a lovely evening so a drink in the local was in order before heading back to the cottage.

Not a bad start, and lets hope the weather continues like this.  I managed to get the first of my target birds, lets see what tomorrow can bring.

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