The Black seam.

Coal mining in Wales is an industry of the past and the scars of mining litter the landscape. The black seams of coal became too expensive to mine and carbon-based fuel lost favor as a form of energy. Big Pit today is the National Coal Museum of Wales. The pit was a working coal mine from 1880 to1980. Big Pit is part of the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape a World Heritage site.

Big Pit has a depth of 300ft – underground tours are available which I have done in the past but due to covid, I decided to stay in the open air on this visit. At its peak in 1923, this one mine employed 1,399 in coal production.

Lockers and Shower block.

Restored locomotive being returned to the museum site.

Some facts:- In 1913, 232,000 men worked in 620 mines. The largest number of men ever to work in the Welsh coal mines was 271,000 in 1920.

Red Kites.

Red Kites in the Brecon Beacons- A success story. 35 years ago I saw my 1st Red Kite they were on the brink at that time and about only 25 pairs were in a stronghold in the Brecon Beacons. Over the years their numbers have increased and their range increased. It has now been successfully re-introduced to England and Scotland. It is estimated that there are now 4600 pairs in the UK, While we were on our recent campervan trip to Mid-Wales we visited a Red Kite feeding station at Gigrin Farm near Rhayader.

The farm became an official Kite Feeding Station in the winter of 1992/93 following a request from the RSPB. Today it welcomes many visitors for a daily feeding session where up to 600 birds come to feed.

Hark a Lark.

The Skylark is a LBB {a little brown bird}. It is a streaky brown colour with a small crest, which can be raised when the bird is excited or alarmed and a white-sided tail. It can fly, vertically up in the air. Often you can hear them high above fields singing their hearts out. When you locate it , it is often just a tidny speck up in the sky – it is a bird you hear before you see it.

In the Brecon Beacons in Mid Wales, I spotted this Skylark on the ground.Thenfirst time I was able to photograph one. They are ground-nesting birds and this is one of the reasons why their numbers have dramatically decreased in recent years and are now on the “Red List”.

Small wonders.

Last week I set up one of my trail cameras with a close-up filter and placed it in our local woods in a hollow tree and added some birdseed. I was pleased with the results the film below shows mice and at the end a rat.

Also spotted a regular Roebuck looking a bit shabby with his winter coat.

Still here.

Seven Sanderlings were on Meon Shore yesterday morning feeding on the incoming tide I had not seen any for several weeks normally by now most have returned to their Arctic breeding grounds and I thought they had all left. Normally I see only the odd bird this time of year which has decided to stay on our shores. Interestingly these birds remain in their winter plumage and not changed to their breeding colours where their backs heads and wings change to a light brown.


I have recently been looking for reptiles on my walks – I have seen a few lizards and snakes crossing paths disappearing into the grass or shrub. Several placed pieces of corrugated iron which make a good hiding place for snakes to hide as they warm have proven unsuccessful in attracting anything so far.

In the New Forest, there is a small centre where they have pits with a few of the local reptiles that are found in the forest that you can see if they show themselfs. The centre has been closed for the last few years due to COVID but is now open a couple of days a week. We visited yesterday and were able to get a few pictures without falling in!


The Adder is the only venomous snake in the UK. It spends time soaking up the sun. They have a distinctive, black zig-zag pattern along their backs. The female is larger than the male and is copper or brown in colour while the male is silvery-grey.  Adult Adders measure between 60 and 80cm in length.

We were lucky enough to see a female in the sun approached by a male.

If properly treated, the worst effects of the snake’s bite are nausea and drowsiness, followed by severe swelling and bruising around the bite. No one has died of an Adder bite in the UK for many years.

Sand Lizard.

Due to the loss of habitat, the Sand Lizard is one of the UK’s rarest reptiles we were lucky to see this male in full breeding colours. they have a life span of up to 20 years.

Slow Worm.

Slow worms are legless lizards may people wrongly think they are a snake. Occasionally, individuals may have small blue spots behind their heads, a feature that is more common amongst males than females. This slow worm was seen on Monday’s walk and quickly made an escape into the vegetation. We also saw a Common Lizard on the same walk but he was too quick and disappeared before I could take any pictures.

Action in the colony

The black-headed gull is the UKs commonest small gull. The black-headed gull has actually a chocolate-brown head in the breeding season (In the winter their heads turn to mainly white ). I have posted pictures many times before as they are a common sight both on the coast and inland area where we live. There is a large breeding colony within Titchfield haven nature reserve. Now we are into April the colony is noisy with birds displaying pairing up and squabbling over nest spots. Many bird watchers will overlook this spectacle for rarer birds that visit our shores. Apart from the noise each year I look forward to this gull’s breeding season.

Length: 35-38cm
Wingspan: 1m
Weight: 250-330g
Average lifespan: 11 years

Black-headed Gulls are opportunistic feeders, they will eat most things taking invertebrates and plant materials, seeds bread, and are fond of chips thrown by tourists at the seaside.

Long-tailed Tit.

Long-tailed tits are easily recognisable with their distinctive black and white colouring with a hint of pink. They have a tail that is bigger than their body. They are often seen in small, excitable flocks and can number up to 20 birds. most flocks I see locally number between 6 to 8 birds. These small birds look like flying balls of fluff. and are said to be one of Britain’s cutest birds.