Welcome to our AFON Advent Calendar! Each day leading up to Christmas you will find a wonderful new post by a different member. This years theme is your favourite nature reserve; where do you go to escape from the world and connect with nature? Enjoy!
I have had the most extraordinary luck this year, with not just one fantastic natural area as my base, but two! The first half of 2014 was spent at the beautiful expanse that is Chesil Beach, extending an amazing 18 miles along the Dorset coast. I was based at the eastern end, the perfect spot to view migrating wildlife, and incredibly picturesque with the Isle of Portland looming in one direction and the Fleet Lagoon stretching away in the other.
With birds (particularly gulls!) galore, coastal flowers wherever I looked and a whole new underwater world to explore, there was so much to learn and marvel at. And then I got introduced to moth trapping, and the obsession started. Soon it was all I could talk about, and some of my friends and colleagues might say it still is!
The second half of the year was spent discovering Gilfach Nature Reserve in mid Wales, a reserve patchworked by different habitats. Known for its woodland birds, leaping salmon and rare lichens, it couldn’t have been much more different than Chesil if I’d tried. Naturally, I set to moth trapping – catching a few rarely recorded moths for the vice-county, and even 61 December moths at one point! One moment I’ll never forget is my first sight of the salmon leaping up the waterfalls of the River Marteg. My heart was in my mouth, and I found myself cheering them on as if they were athletes in a race – which in a way, they were I suppose.
I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to experience both of these stunning locations, and will definitely remember this year as a result.