Monday, August 09, 2004

Mwnt and the Dolphins of Cardigan Bay

We spent most of the Sunday doing some reading and jigsaw puzzles as Wales looked like living up to its wet reputation but by Monday we were able to take our first really good walk. We chose the headland at Mwnt (no spelling mistake!) partly so that my 8 year old son could visit the butterfly centre nearby for a look at the huge and colourful tropical species on show there (I just hope the trade in these creatures is sustainable as none of the species are overwintered at the centre).

Owl Butterfly (Caligo memnon) - Thanks to Coatlicue for ID assistance

Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas)

The small beach at Mwnt is very popular and we were surprised to find the National Trust car park filling rapidly with visitors drawn to the clear water, sand and steep cliffs of the idilic little cove. As we walked out on the northern side of the hill and the sea came fully into view just about the first thing the binoculars picked out was the fin of a cetacean breaking surface. I quickly set up the scope and we sat down to enjoy a pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins pass slowly by heading west towards Cardigan Island. The most we saw above the suface at once was eleven but there must have been 15 or more in total. There were several calves among the group and these showed up as much paler grey as well as being smaller than the adults.

Gannets, Fulmars and a few Shags were regular and there was a steady stream of Manx Shearwaters going north well offshore but a Sandwich Tern was just about the only other seabird we saw. Grey Seal heads bobbed up every now and then but mainy stayed hidden. Meanwhile the clifftop gave us the first indication of the large numbers of butterflies we were to encounter in the area. Gatekeepers were particularly abundant and there were plenty of Wall butterflies. Before we left we could still see the dolphins, now scattered and distant around Cardigan Island.

Wall Butterfly (Lasiommata megera)

1 comment:

Coatlicue said...

Your first picture here is an open-winged Owl butterfly. It is definitely not a Morpho.