Well what a great summer it’s been! There’s been bombs, bees, washed up whales (but that one was a hoax) and lots and lots of tourists! No two days were ever the same whilst working down at Ynyslas NNR. I think it must be something engrained in to the human psyche where if you get to call working outdoors during one of the best summers in memory, it really doesn’t feel like a proper job. There was never such thing as an average day. Some days you’d find yourself out surveying rare reptiles, others you’ll be digging a hole to bury whatever cetacean decided to beach itself and die on that particular day, and then others you have to deal with the tourists. Oh so many tourists! You’ll always get the awkward ones, but I can honestly say that before this summer, I’ve never had the pleasure of working with such a fantastically diverse group of people of all ages and backgrounds, and there’s nothing more rewarding than the moment someone comes up to you after having given a talk with genuine excitement for the subject you’ve been talking about, and a desire to learn more.
Anyway, enough jibber jabber. Here’s a few shots from the summer. More to come.
My office for this summer is at Ynyslas National Nature Reserve working as a warden for Natural Resources Wales, and quite like last year, it’s hardly your average 9-5 job! Part of my job out on the reserve is to monitor the reptile populations due to an ongoing sand lizard re-introduction project throughout the UK. However, sand lizards seem to be about as elusive as rocking horse blood… or is it shit from a stone? Either way, they’re difficult to find and I’ve only caught a glimpse of one since working at Ynyslas. Part of the job also means photo-monitoring of whatever I see when I’m out and about so hopefully I’ll have plenty to show for it as the season goes on.
This summer I’m lucky enough to be able to call myself the Ranger of Hafod y Llan camp site, part of the Hafod y Llan estate owned by the National Trust. The site is located in Nantgwynant right at the foot of the highest mountain in England and Wales, Snowdon. Whilst the weather in Wales isn’t renowned for being tan inducing, there were days when the sun was shining, the air was still and that Vit-D really got flowing!
I was recently very lucky to be accepted on to a habitat identification course run by Operation New World to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. During the week that we were out there I met some absolutely fantastic people and made some brilliant friends and whilst the course had it’s ups and downs, it really was worth it for the experience gained and friends made. Have some photos.
The view from Colderon Hondo
Luckily I’ve got a good friend that has the very enviable job of being head warden of Skomer Island off the coast of Pembrokeshire. With this being the case, if I’m in need of getting away from the main land for a while, Skomer proves to be the perfect retreat to have a change in pace of life. As I did last year, I’ve recently been back out their again around seal pupping to have a bit of a chill and live without the inconveniences that come with modern life. Unfortunately though, all good things come to an end but I definitely hope to head back out there soon. Here’s a few shots to make you go “Awww”.
In case anyone was wondering whether Moroccan customs had got the better of me and I was now some big guys bit of arm candy in a Moroccan prison…there’s no need to worry! The silence is due to the impending deadline of my dissertation in a few weeks, so as soon as that’s out of the way I’ve got some more articles written about my experiences in Morocco with Mid Wales Paragliding and the wonderful bureaucrats to post.
I wasn’t at my most comfortable, having Moroccan security officials pulling all of my possessions out of my bag in front of the whole of arrivals. Everyone starts to stare, more and more security turn up. Eventually there were five of them there! 5?! All for a camera?!
“Follow me please sir”
This really will be a hassle! I’ve never been taken away for an interview before. Let alone one with someone that can’t speak English. I’d done nothing wrong and I knew it, but there’s still something inside you that’s making you nervous, that little “what if”. What if what?! “I’ve not done anything!” I kept telling myself, but as I sat in this small dark office with someone pulling my bags apart, I felt my heart start to beat faster, my legs start to tingle and my mouth going as dry as the Sahara.
Despite some very careful packing, I was still way over my weight limit for flying. Things were getting desperate. Toothbrush, gone. Toothpaste, gone. About 3 pairs of pants and socks, gone. Eventually I got my main luggage down to 25kg and my hand luggage down to 7. Even that wasn’t good enough! I mean yeah it weighed the same as a small child…but maybe the baggage handlers should have just eaten their weetabix!
At around midnight, a dangerous cocktail of boredom and insomnia began to kick in. For the last 4 months, I’ve been living next to a local landmark in Carlisle known as Dixons Chimney. This chimney, at its time, was the tallest in the UK and was named after its original owner, Peter Dixon. Put it this way, it’s a pretty big chimney. It’ll put a crick in your neck if you try staring up at it for too long. Since moving in, I’d noticed that in the right conditions, the moon created a stunning corona effect around the chimney at night. Although the moon was too low to be able to catch that effect this evening, what I was able to catch are the following shots of light clouds racing behind the chimney, leading to a pretty interesting shot.