What’s going on here then? Who are you?

Surprised alpacas! They weren’t expecting me and I didn’t have a familiar face so I guess surprise should be expected. Or maybe I was wearing my hat – I’m told they don’t like hats.

Having crossed the footbridge to the western side of the lake at The Waterside I was entertained by some of the alpacas that are kept here (Welsh Valley Alpacas) and reminded of their fluffy faces by the bullrushes revealing their fluffy seeds on the lakeside.

Alpaca - mid chew!

Alpaca – mid chew!

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A Sparkle of Sunlight

My walk this week around the lake at The Waterside revealed some truly beautiful patterns of sunlight. That’s not to say these effects of light have not been seen before, I’m sure they have – however, that does not make them any less remarkable. I don’t think I could ever get tired of the wonders of nature, however small or common they may be, they still connect with my brain and spark my synapses to produce a sense of wonder.

 

The Waterside Walk-16

A Sparkle of Sunlight

After climbing the lakeside steps and shooting a mother duck and her single duckling (photographically speaking of course), I came upon the footbridge seen the background of one of yesterday’s images.

Crossing the Footbridge

Looking closely at the water flowing into the lake the sun glinting off the ripples made me pause and shoot again. My first shot was underexposed but just like the overexposed photo I posted during my walk last week, the effect was quite powerful.

The correctly exposed image is the first of the flowing water shots in the gallery below and this presented an interesting phenomenon – a bubble on the surface of the water appears not to be affected by the fast flow. I guess it was only there for the split second I took the shot. The underexposed image is the last in this sequence and I further enhanced the effect of light and dark, but only a little.

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Wildflowers Down by The Waterside

While the drama of a new alpaca being born was going on “back at the ranch” (see yesterday’s post), I was enjoying a very peaceful stroll around the lake at The Waterside. While there is so much growth during this time of year, the specific time cycle of development is slightly different for each plant and many wildflowers and this will vary further according to the conditions from year to year and location to location.

So we see here in this hidden South Wales valley the foxgloves in full bloom but the thistle flowers just coming through, the dandelions seeding and the bullrushes getting ready to disperse their seed. There seems to be so much going on – as I have said in previous posts, nature has pounced!

Bullrushes by the lake

Bullrushes by the lake

Lakeside Birds

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My Walk this Week – Back at The Waterside with a Newborn Alpaca

My walk this week started with a couple of surprises! There was more than tadpoles to see and on my arrival at The Waterside Firstly I was unexpectedly met by a couple of horses, but more of them later in the week.

The real excitement came when just before setting out on a walk round the lake with my camera and sound kit, Steve ran over to tell everyone that a new arrival in the form of an alpaca was on its way.

tadpoles

Tadpoles

It was difficult to know how long the delivery was going to take but it wasn’t going to be immediate so rather than hang around in a small crowd of spectators, I set off round the lake. I was back in time to see the new alpaca just after its birth. You can see it staggering around its mother in the video clip and photos below. Introducing newborn Caleb!

 

Return Route – Reviewing the Walk

Looking back on my walk this week with the Taste of Gower group at Llanmadoc, we were very lucky with the weather. We saw both sunshine and clouds over the beautiful open space of the beach at Whitford Point with the old Victorian lighthouse not quite clear of the tide. Having said that, one of the main reasons we have such a green and luscious land in Wales is the amount of rainfall we get. It is less predictable where it is going to fall these days and looking again at the dark clouds and sun bleached beach, that is why I say we were so lucky not to be rained on until the end of the walk.

Country lane

return route

My soundscape for this walk is about the same length as usual (around 4 mins) but I could easily have made it twice that length or more. I may decide to produce a StillWalks video from the photos and sounds I have collected on this walk but it will have to wait in line with the others I have not yet post produced.

Llanmadoc Walk Soundscape

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Hunting for Snails

My walk this week with the Taste of Gower walkers has taken in coastal burrows, expansive beach, woodland and now marshland. Emerging from the woods we came across three people sitting in the middle of the marshland, heads bent in concentration as they hunted for and counted a particular species of snail that was said to inhabit that stretch of land.

The weather was still dry at that stage of the walk but it wasn’t long before the rain reached us and we donned our coats. The last stretch of footpath took us back towards Llanmadoc and the excellent cafe where the organisers of these walks, the Gower Landscape Partnership, paid for the tea and cakes provided.

researchers

Many of the people joining these walks come from a broad range of disadvantaged and other “hard to reach” groups. If it weren’t for the support provided by organisations like the Gower Landscape Project, many of those people would never have the opportunity to get out and walk, appreciate, benefit from and enjoy the countryside so near to them and yet so far.

A significant part of the funding that allows this and many other organisation to provide these services comes from the EU and it is unrealistic to think that if the EU funding were lost as a result of the UK leaving, it would be replaced by our own government. The same can be said for the arts.

Underfoot

Moving up from the beach at Whitford Point my walk this week with the Taste of Gower walkers meandered through the woods to continue this circular walk from Llanmadoc on the northern tip of the Gower Peninsula.

The ground underfoot was now mostly a soft carpet of pine needles and so for those walking barefoot (just one, not me), the transition from the sand of the beach would have been a relatively comfortable one. I was tempted to go barefoot myself, remembering the experience being described by Nan Shepherd and Robert MacFarlane in their books as one which puts you in contact with the ground (literally) in a way that walking in boots cannot, however sensitive and sympathetic you are to the land.

woodland path

Woodland Footpath

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Bleached Beach

When walking with a group and trying to do some photography and field recording at the same time, it is easy to end up rushing a bit and, as in this instance, forget to adjust the camera setting for the scene I’m wanting to capture. More often than not this results in useless images, but sometimes you get a happy accident.

When I first looked at this photo I thought “Whoops but wow! That’s just what it felt like at the time!”

The over exposure produced a bleached, white hot effect and when the sun was out this broad exposed hazy seascape felt just like this. I have included  a more correct exposure of the scene in the gallery below so you can compare.

Bleached Beach

Bleached Beach

As can be seen from the “Pergyl – Danger” notice, the area used to be a firing range and people are advised  not to touch anything they find as it may explode. One of the walkie talkies for the group was dropped on the beach during the walk and could not be found – I hope it doesn’t cause a scare for the person who finds it.

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Magical Calm Before the Storm

I have said that the weather was kind to us on my walk this week. It can be seen here on the expansive beach at Whitford, that there was the potential to be caught by an impending storm. Fortunately the wind favoured us and took this huge bank of dark cloud off to the north east.

calm before the storm

calm before the storm

The scene felt other worldly with the calm humidity and the simplicity of the open space. The haze blurred the details of what land could be seen and the “canvas” was reduced to indistinct sea and sky in muted colours. The old Victorian iron built Whitford Lighthouse was an enticing object just out of reach in the water and a small flock of one of my favourite birds flew as if in slow motion along the length of shore, mixing their calls with the skylarks. It was magical!

Larks and Oystercatchers

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Enjoying the Water

The weather was good to us during my walk this week with the Taste of Gower walkers at Llanmadoc. However, there had clearly been recent rain in the area or the tide had come high enough to fill the track ruts and Cefyn, liking water, took full advantage of the fact.

As we passed by on a dry part of the burrows next to the beach he could not resist running backwards and forwards in this stretch of water again and again. Such enjoyment was great to see 🙂

dog running in water

He also thoroughly enjoyed being down at the water’s edge once we got further along the beach where we met one or two other walkers and their dogs!

Water and Dog

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