I thought I would miss the views from Tyn y Cefn when we left. The buzzards and red kites soaring in those big skies, and the distant mountains – sometimes bright and visible, sometimes shrouded in cloud, sometimes covered in snow, often looming above the mist – have been quite something over the past six months. But we’ve been at Gelli Isaf a few days and I’ve simply not had chance to miss anything.
Great though they were, I would not swap those views for the redstarts that are calling and chasing each other around the old apple trees here; nor for the garden warblers – the very first time that I’ve ever actually seen them in a garden – lurking in the bottom of the bushes above the stream that runs alongside the track down to the house, betraying their presence with their chirpy, chattery, clattery song; and especially not for the long-tailed tits that are nesting in the hollybush outside the living room window. And I’ve at last found a use for all that hair that I comb off Bert every day – I’m now putting it in a fat-ball feeder in the garden, in the hope that the birds will use it for nesting material.
Our ‘lawn’ is rampant with dandelions, and the goldfinches love them, as it seems, do the butterflies – especially the subtly beautiful green-veined whites and their rivals the orange tips, who seem to spend more time in aerial battle with each other than feeding.
Yesterday morning we sat in the garden having coffee, watching all this go on, while a cuckoo called in the valley below, at least half a dozen different types of bee also made the most of the dandelions, and Bertie keenly pointed out all the vole holes under the terrace for us.
Leaving Tyn y Cefn was not without its emotional moments though – when we got back on Monday to finish clearing out and tidying up, we discovered that a pair of redstarts were embarking on nest building in the mailbox. Ever since we moved there we’d had a problem with keeping the flap on the thing, and this keen pair had obviously decided it would make a great home. So Graham, feeling rotten the whole time, cleared out the carefully gathered moss and twigs and put the flap back on the front. Better to do it then, than for them to get eggs laid, only to be squished by a load of junk mail, propaganda from UKIP and Iceland’s latest offers. At least now they have a chance to start again somewhere a bit less vulnerable.
And last night, the icing on the cake at our new home, we discovered that there are bats around too – we stood at the front of the cottage as dusk fell, with pipistrelles performing aerial ballet about our heads. How good is that?