Marloes and St Brides
Mammals are not easy to see - but there are some mammals which can be seen more easily on the Marloes Peninsula than in many other places in the UK.
BADGERS are everywhere - you can see the steep runs up and down the hedge-banks where they cross the road, and their tracks can easily be found on muddy paths. However, as they are strictly nocturnal they are not seen all that often. But if you are out and about at night - either on foot or in the car - there is a reasonable chance of finding one snuffling along the road or footpath.
OTTERS are another secret inhabitant in the area. We know they are there because we find their spraints - these are small deposits of dropping which they leave in obvious places. Strangely, they do not smell unpleasant - the smell has been likened to violets! Spraints are regularly found by the little arch where the stream runs under the path at St Brides beach, and at other similar spots where freshwater runs into the sea. An analysis of the spraints shows that our local otters are quite marine in habit - their diet is predominantly sea fish. This is supported by the number of sightings of otters swimming in the sea made by sea fisherman.
There are several locations in Pembrokeshire where otters can be seen relatively easily by day - the most well-known of these is Bosherston Lily ponds where family groups are regularly sighted.
POLECATS are occasionally seen on the road - though unfortunately more often dead than alive. They seem to be doing well here. See this note on Polecats for more information.
HEDGEHOGS are not very common. There is a theory that they do not do well where badgers are common (badgers eat hedgehogs - they turn them inside out in order to avoid the spines!). The habitat otherwise looks fine for them - plenty of worms!
SEALS Grey Seals are quite common in the seas and on the rocks around the coast. In April large groups come ashore to moult - they can be seen at North Haven on Skomer. Breeding takes place from August onwards on beaches and in caves around the peninsula and on the islands. The baby seals, in their coat of dense, soft silky white fur at first look small and shrivelled-looking, but they rapidly fatten up to look like over-filled barrels, nourished by the extremely fat-rich milk they receive from their mothers. Within a month or so, they shed their pup fur and grow dense waterproof adult fur, and soon leave for the sea to learn to fish for themselves.
This very interesting leaflet “Seal Watching” provides much more information on the natural history of grey seals and in particular the development of seal pups.
Seal pups often look as though they have been abandoned - this is not usually the case. They are fed quite infrequently so the mother seal will often not be visible. If you are really worried check out this poster WILDLIFE IN DISTRESS.
DOLPHINS Dolphins are not often seen in the immediate inshore area around the peninsula. Bottlenose Dolphins are the usual inshore species around the UK and they are not common here, though there are regular pods further up the coast in Cardigan Bay. Common Dolphins, which are smaller than Bottlenose Dolphins, and tend to travel in big pods, are frequently seen on boat trips out to the Smalls and Grassholm - a large pod heading towards the boat at high speed is a very dramatic sight! However, they are not often seen from the land.
PORPOISES can sometimes be seen off headlands such as Wooltack Point as they like to fish in tidal races. They are dark in colour, quite small - about 4 feet long, and have a small triangular dorsal fin. All you ever see is the fin and a small part of the back as they progress through the water in a looping fashion, often looking as though they are fixed to a wheel.