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29th June 2022 – The Owl Garden, Picton Castle

I missed the beginning of both sessions at The Owl Garden at Picton Castle and was too busy photographing the birds to catch what was what. I do know the African Fish Eagle because we had booked a trip to see these magnificent birds in the wild as we were travelling along the Garden Route in South Africa just before the COVID pandemic. Unfortunately the trip along the River Kromme at St Francis Bay was cancelled due to bad weather. How ironic that we should manage to see one in Wales in a week where we have had plenty of bad weather.

There were two sessions to see these rescue birds: the first was exclusively owls in the Owl Garden; the second was raptors flying in front of the castle.

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29th June 2022 – Pembrokeshire, Wales

The Pembrokeshire countryside with the Preseli mountains in the background

I like to think of myself as a “glass half full” rather than a “glass half empty” man, but this week the weather in Pembrokeshire has tested my resolve. So, no trips out to the islands off the coast to see the wonderful sea birds that breed here. However, so far we have had two sunny (if not particularly warm) days and we have been able to make the most of it.

On the first of them we visited Dyffyn Fernant, a gem of a garden, between Newport and Fishguard. I don’t have a lot of bird photos to show from here as I missed a grey heron in flight and the red kite which I saw was too distant to photograph. However, there were a pair of barn swallows flitting around the garden and there were lots of ringlet butterflies. Nonetheless, a very inspiring garden created in difficult terrain.

Dyffryn Fernant

An interesting way to display different grasses

The Rickyard

I accidentally flushed a grey heron from around this pond and failed to photograph it

Two barn swallows having a chat above the garden

Barn swallow

Ringlet

Our second “nature” trip was to Picton Castle near Haverfordwest. Here the gardens were much more formal, but we especially loved the walled garden with many plants which benefit from the temperate climate here (it has not seemed particularly temperate this week though).

The walled garden at Picton Castle

Common bird-of-paradise flower

Ajacent to the walled garden was a vegetable garden which, along with some feeders, attracted lots of garden birds.

Great spotted woodpecker

Nuthatch

Siskin

Chaffinch

Blue tit

Goldfinch

Juvenile robin

The castle buildings attracted huge numbers of house martins.

The castle provided wonderful sites for house Martin nests

House martin

House martin

Picton Castle is also home to The Welsh Owl Garden and, as much as I don’t like seeing birds in cages, there were two sessions with a great opportunity to see, first of all, rescue owls up close and in flight and, later in the day, some of the larger rescue raptors in flight.

African fish eagle

Barn owl

I will publish a separate blog with photos from these two sessions.