Designated in 1952, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is more than just a beautiful patchwork quilt of seaside landscapes, as it holds a wealth of habitats and biodiversity to explore. Taking the themes of shore, maritime and island life, we search out the birds, blooms and beasts to be found at this time of year. There will be a clear emphasis upon helping develop your identification skills and experience, but not at the expense of understanding the roles of these living things within their environment. Whether you are a seasoned natural historian or have just ‘caught the bug,’ you should find plenty to keep you enthralled. Each of the days will involve a moderate level of walking, so you should have a moderate level of fitness, but be reassured that we will for the most part stick to well-maintained paths in the beautiful South Pembrokeshire countryside.
Optional evening activities will seek to complement a day’s events through activities like bat watching, moth trapping and walks around the Orielton estate. And so you may come to appreciate why Ronald Lockley made this his home.
Each of the days will involve a moderate level of walking, so you should have a moderate level of fitness, but be reassured that we will for the most part stick to well-maintained paths in the beautiful South Pembrokeshire countryside.
Tutor: Sandy HillSandy Hill worked for the FSC for over a decade, teaching Biology and Geography courses at nine centres in England and Wales. He now works as a Head of Biology at a Grammar school. However, being a keen birder and enthusiastic natural historian, he is always happiest when 'in the field', sharing his knowledge and love of the environment.
Provisional Course Programme – Fossicking for Flora and Fauna
Experience the wildlife and plants to be found in Pembrokeshire during mid-summer. There’s a wide range of breeding & early migrant birds, some spectacular floral displays along the coast, but also an opportunity to celebrate the beauty and appeal of lesser known groups of invertebrates like moths and intertidal snails for example. Each day will have a distinct theme, and as we walk between sites there’ll be plenty of time to appreciate the stunning scenery and the wealth of plants and animals living in this fascinating part of the country. Optional evening activities will include visiting local bat roosts, moth trapping and seeing Manx shearwater fly back from their feeding grounds towards the islands.
A day spent exploring the coastline around Angle village. Starting with the plants and lichens associated with a ‘splash zone’, we’ll go on to visit West Angle Beach to search out the hidden fauna of sandy shores & indulge in a little rock pooling! Thorne Island, a Victorian fort provides the back drop for some sea watching and lunch, before we head East along the coastal path to a rocky shore dominated by seaweeds, snails and a good few hidden gems. Scanning Angle Bay often provides a few avian surprises, and a gentle stroll past the harbour brings us back to our starting point and a well earnt ice-cream.
A short boat trip from St Justinian’s takes us to Ramsey, an island owned & managed by the RSPB. Notable for its seabird colonies, we’ll see good numbers of Gulls, Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars and hopefully Puffin, together with good chance of Chough, Raven, Peregrine and little owl amongst a cast of supporting migrants. The largest grey seal population in South Britain & the chance of porpoise and other cetaceans adds excitement to sea watching and then there’s the maritime heath and some scarce plants to add to the mix; can we find the rare Golden Hair Lichen? Thankfully a tea room offers a calming respite to reflect upon this special haven before we return to the mainland.
Exploring the Stackpole estate, we’ll start in mixed woodland to get to grips with bird song and tackle a few ferns. Traversing the lily ponds there are plenty of opportunities to see water birds and dragonflies before we head to the dunes for lunch and a spot of botanising. Stretching our legs up towards St Govan’s Head provides some stunning views, the chance of a Fritillary amongst other butterflies and the opportunity to explore the diversity of this classic area of Limestone grassland.
It seems a fitting tribute to Ronald Lockley, distinguished naturalist and former owner of Orielton and its estate, that we should spend a day investigating and celebrating the wildlife within his patch. There’s a number of ponds, meadows and a walled garden, so plenty of scope and by avoiding transport, we’re actively reducing our carbon footprint and helping to combat climate change. My aim will be to inspire a little awe and wonder from the commonplace habitats we often overlook.
(Field excursions may be subject to alteration due to weather conditions)
Before You Attend
Start and finish times
Resident guests are requested to arrive between 3.00-5.00pm and register at Reception on arrival. A welcome talk takes place at approximately 5.30pm followed by an evening meal at 6.00pm. Non-resident guests are asked to arrive in time for the welcome talk at 5.30pm. The course begins with an introduction after the evening meal. Breakfast will be at 8.00 am. The course will end after breakfast on departure day.
What to bring
- Waterproof clothing
- Stout shoes or boots
- Lunchbox and drinks bottle / flask
- Sunglasses, sun hat, and sun lotion
- Small haversack or day bag
- Binoculars and a camera to enhance your enjoyment
- Insect repellent is recommended for evening wildlife watching
- Notebook and pencil if you want to make a record of your stay
(Bedding and a bath towel provided)
If you have your own identification guides, you may wish to bring them with you, although the group leaders will carry these items.