Sunday, 12 May 2013

Welsh trip - Part 1 - Puffin fest!

It has taken some time to sort through my photos from this trip, but I've managed it at last! (-: We stayed in a beautiful place called Laugharne on the south Welsh coast. Here's some history about the place from Wikipedia.

Laugharne /ˈlɑrn/ (Welsh: Talacharn) is a town in Carmarthenshire, Wales, lying on the estuary of the River Tâf. It is known for having been the home of Dylan Thomas from 1949 until his death in 1953, and is thought to have been an inspiration for the fictional town of Llareggub in Under Milk Wood. The Township was originally known as Abercorran, but this was changed to Laugharne after the Civil War, in honour of Major-General Rowland Laugharne, a renowned local army officer, who had commanded a Parliamentarian army, before rebelling in 1648.

In the early 12th century, grants of lands were made to Flemings by Henry I when their country was flooded, and later they were joined by Flemish soldiers banished by Henry II.[1] They were weavers and dyers and were such an influence that Welsh was hardly ever heard in Laugharne.
A castle, known originally as the Castle of Abercorran, existed in Laugharne before the Norman Conquest and belonged to the princes of South Wales. Henry II visited it in 1172 on his return from Ireland and made peace with Prince Rhys of Dinefwr. Through the marriage of Prince Rhys' daughter, the castle passed to Sir Guy de Brian, who had been Lord High Admiral of England. His daughter Elizabeth inherited the castle and married Owen Laugharne of St. Bride's who gave his name to the castle.
Possession passed to the Crown and during the 16th century belonged to Sir John Perrot, returning to the crown after his death. In 1644 the castle was garrisoned for the king and taken for Parliament by Major-General Rowland Laugharne, who subsequently reverted to the king's side. This led Cromwell to lay siege to the castle, burning and leaving it in ruins.
Laugharne is mentioned as being affected by the Bristol Channel floods, 1607. It is not known whether this had any long-term effects on the town, but it may have contributed to the silting up of the harbour, which at one time had seen imports of coal and tobacco from the New World.

A photo of the atmospheric ruined castle.
For our first full day we planned to catch the boat across to Skomer Island which is famous for its breeding Puffins and Manx Shearwaters.  It was a bank holiday weekend in peak Puffin time so we left very early to make sure we got onto one of the limited places in the boat across. (only 250 people are allowed onto the island in any given day and the boat carries around 50 people). We managed to get onto the first crossing at 10am so we had plenty of time for some birding and sight seeing first.
Here's a view of Skomer Island from the mainland.
My birding friends, Jane, Lou and Emma after watching an obliging Grasshopper Warbler. Even though this was early May, you can see that we're still in winter birding gear!
At last, it was time to get down to the jetty to take the boat across to Skomer. It's the small blue and white boat in the photo below.
The rest of the photos in this post are of Puffins. We were told by the warden that they're quite late coming back to the Island to breed, so I wasn't surprised to see that there were not as many around as the last time I was here many years ago. Still, enough for some lovely photo opportunites! (-:
The next post will be about all the other birds and wildlife we saw on Skomer.


Roy Norris said...

Love those Puffin shots Jen. Real characters.

Quiet Paths said...

What a beautiful place to spend time. And what beautiful photos! Very envious of the puffin experience.

Quiet Paths said...

PS: I am always captivated by castles near the sea. I can imagine so many things! Again, lovely photos.

Kelly said...

...the photos of the puffins are so lovely! They made me smile! You must have been in 7th Heaven!

TonyC said...

Great pics Jen. Never did make it to Skomer. Maybe next time I'm over......
BTW, not sure if its just me, but I am struggling to read your orange text on the dark background.

Jenny said...

Hi Roy, yes, it was lovely to watch them tentetively poke a head out of their burrow and then waddle out to survey their surroundings. I think next time, I'd go later in the year (June time) so that I could see them coming in with sandeels to feed their young.

Hi Christine, it really is a lovely experience. We've had bad news recently with regard to sticky substances being dumped in the waters around our shores with devastating results, so it was lovely to see these healthy birds!

PS: I'm glad you liked the castle! (-:

Hi Kelly, I was indeed in seventh heaven. You have to be careful where you sit on Skomer as virtually the whole island is pockmarked with their burrows. You must'nt stray from the marked paths, but there are some parts of the paths where you're able to sit and just watch! Lovely!

Hi Tony, you'd LOVE skomer, specially to take pics! (-: Thanks for letting me know about the text. I'll do something about it in my next post! (-: xx

Mary said...

Your puffin shots are great! Such a strange and wonderful bird. What a wonderful trip to make. Love the castle, too. To those of us in America, castles are probably more interesting because we don't have them :-)

ShySongbird said...

What a beautiful place! Puffins are my favourite seabirds, so colourful and they just can't help looking comical :-) Your photos of them are lovely Jenny! The last one made me smile.

Anonymous said...

An interesting and informative post Jenny, it certainly looks like you had a great time in Wales :-) The Puffin shots are simply gorgeous :-)

Jenny said...

Hi Mary, it was a great day. I'm glad you enjoyed the castle! (-:

Hi Jan, they are adorable. So funny peeking out to have a look and then waddling out like proud house owners! (-:

Thanks David. They were certainly photogenic! (-:

Chris said...

These are simply gorgeous and I hope I will enjoy photographing them soon again... love your shots and the last pair of puffin is beautiful ;-)

Mary said...

Love the castle! Great scenery! Would love to see a puffin.