The tail wags

This morning I wasn’t sure whether to be delighted or cross. There’s an open garden shed which has been used to store building materials and which we were about to clear out in readiness for … something. But then I saw two Pied Wagtails flying in and out – one with nesting materials and the other with what looked like a beak full of food.

So now it seems our plans will be be put on hold for several months – wagtails raise at least two clutches of eggs in a season so we can’t do anything until all their broods are fledged.

In previous years they nested in a hole they found in the front wall of the farmhouse while it was being repaired – meaning we had to hold off pointing that section until they’d left. And last year they nested in a woodpile near the front door, so we couldn’t go near or use any of the wood until they’d finished.

The wagtails are regular visitors, and always cheer us up. It seems that they love it here. If only they’d pay attention to what we want to do!
So this year’s nesting location, just like the ones before, will make us slow down. And in the enforced hiatus give us a breathing space.

It’s another reminder to me that we share this place with the wildlife that was here before us, and the diversity we see is what makes the Black Mountains special. Even the smallest of birds…

Photo to follow (when I can sneak one without disturbing the nest)

How can you live in a National Park?

“We googled your postcode and it showed up in the Brecon Beacons National Park, so we thought it must be wrong”

That was what they said, when we booked some flooring fitters based in the West Midlands. The idea that people can live in National Parks, or work in them, was a mystery to these guys. What did they think a National Park was? A bigger version of a town park, with a big fence around some swings and slides and maybe a football pitch or a pond? Or proper wilderness with mountains and wild animals? Maybe they were expecting Yosemite.

Yes there is wilderness. But National Parks in the UK also have farmers. And houses. And doctors, and schools, and shops, and businesses. Everything that you need to live.

However, in a National Park these ‘essentials’ are present in a way that contributes to the very special character of the area. So priority is given to maintaining and improving the environment – both the landscape and wildlife. Development of all buildings is tightly controlled. And residents and businesses have to behave in ways that complement the aims of the National Park, to ensure it remains very special.

So that’s what we try to do here – preserve and enhance the beauty and peace of this place, whilst stewarding the natural resources on the farm to support our life here. 

There is always tension between those who want to keep the Park exactly as it is, and those who think that it needs to evolve to survive. Maybe that’s the difference between those who come to visit and those whose livelihoods depend on it. But both constituencies have the same desire – to see the Park thrive and continue to be a resource for everyone.

P.S. If no-one lived, or farmed, or did business here, then the Brecon Beacons National Park would look very different. And the character of the landscape would rapidly change. But that’s a topic for another post…