Goldeneyes and Goosanders

Saturday, November 22, 2008 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


This weekend I travelled over to the Ogmore estuary again to see what was about. I was mainly hoping to see Purple Sandpipers for only the second time ever but had no luck. What was there though was fairly spectacular. The lower estuary saw my first ever Water Pipit on the north side of the river. Ironically we had just been talking about one being seen up at the WWT site when we spotted this example. The main differences that I could see were the colour of the legs that are far lighter than that of the Rock Pipit, but no where near as bright as the orange legs of the Meadow Pipit. The Water Pipit also has a much paler underside which is very visible. There were also a couple of Turnstones mixed in with numerous Redshanks. Up at Portobello island was a very pleasent surprise; four female and a magnificent male Goldeneye. Other than sightings on Mull and the immature at Ynys Hir a few months ago this is a very unusual bird to see. The diving birds were further well catered for with a male and female Goosander and at least four Little Grebes up by the bridge. I had begun to think that the Grebes had all vanished from the area but it seems that they have just moved house.

Up at the castle the Kingfisher was again in fine form and thirty or so Curlews were feeding out on the flooded fields. Further upriver at the Watermill was the very unusual sight, in this country at least, of three different swan species together. The Whooper was still present and has obviously decided to see out the winter here, along with twenty or so Mute Swans and a single Black Swan. I know some people don't count the Black Swan as a 'wild' species but in my books if it can survive and fly then its wild.

On Sunday we headed to the WWT at LLanelli in some very cold weather. The scrapes were well populated with several hundred Lapwing and fifteen or so Dunlin. Right opposite the hide a single Grey Plover was showing extremely well. I missed the Spoonbill for another week as it had gone before I got there. Better look next time. Elsewhere on the site were five Bullfinch and a Kestral worrying the birds at the feeders. In all 45 species were seen. I'm wondering if it would be worth posting a full list each week so I am going to give it some thought in order to make it not quite so time consuming.

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Coal Tit Variations

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


Something that I didn't realise until very recently is that there are several different variations of the Coal Tit depending upon where the bird originates from. This year has seen a massive influx of birds from the continent which exhibit a blue grey back as opposed to the native olive brown of the British birds. My garden has been regularly visited for the last four months or so by two individuals that are of British origin. It has been quite interesting to watch them gain in confidence when visiting the garden from flitting in and out to lengthy visits in the presence of the larger finches. Whilst out at the WWT last week I had the chance to compare my birds with one of the continental variety. The colour difference on the back is quite pronounced, and it actually took me a few seconds to realise what I was looking at. In my opinion it was also bigger, but that could just be down to individual variation. Either way its worth keeping your eye out for more of these "immigrants".

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WWT Llanelli

Sunday, November 09, 2008 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


By the time I had woken up on Saturday the bad weather that had been forecast seemed to have passed so we decided to head over to the Llanelli site of the WWT. The recent sightings board at the centre reported a Yellow Browed Warbler having being seen the previous two days. There have been numerous examples of this bird seen around the area and indeed the whole country over recent weeks, but I have so far proved unsuccessful in my normal haunts. Today was to be no different despite a briefly exciting episode with a brightly coloured Goldcrest.

Elsewhere the Long Tailed Tits were showing extremely well, with certain individuals approaching to within touching distance. It was also very nice to see a male and female Bullfinch together near the Michael Powell Hide. I don't know if these birds are particularly renowned for pairing up, but I cannot remember ever having seen a Bullfinch not in a pair. It was also good to see the House Sparrows a bit more visible than they have been. This is a species that I see so rarely now it really highlights their population decline over recent years.

Out on the various pools I managed to identify successfully for the first time a Bar Tailed Godwit. One example very obligingly sat on the grass to the rear of the British Steel Hide with its tail clear for all to see. There were also a couple of hundred Lapwings and good numbers of Greylag Geese and Widgeon. Strangely the number of Little Egrets was relativley low and I only saw one Grey Heron all day (ironically standing beneath the bird feeders at the entrance).

On Sunday we braved the showers for a look along the South side of the Burry Inlet. Penclawdd gave good showings of Curlews and Shellducks, with the waders being covered by a couple of Redshank and a Common Sandpiper flying up the channel. Elsewhere 15 Pintails were braving the rough seas and approximately 2,000 Oystercatchers were feeding along the shore of the estuary. A male Pheasant finished off the day and added a splash of colour to the torrential rain.

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Redwings and Fieldfares

Saturday, November 01, 2008 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


Well the weekend didn't go entirely to plan with varied weather and the small matter of a rather important motor race and the return of Top Gear to our TV screens. As a result I didn't get to visit the places that I had originally intended to. Instead I spent Saturday walking around the two Lliw reservoirs that are up in the hills just north of my house. The highlight of the trip has to be the two Red Kites that were seen soaring throughout the entire valley during the day. On several occasions one bird even spent several minutes hovering not far above my head against the blue sky giving excellent views of the birds colours. I tend to forget how big these birds actually are, but the arrival of a Buzzard on the scene really helped to show the size difference. The buzzard looked small!

Further up the valley a Merlin came past quartering the hillside completing the trio of raptors. Also in the valley on what seemed to be the only berry bearing tree in the valley, a flock or around twenty Redwings and Fieldfares were observed at some distance. This is my first sighting of these birds this year, and I believe my first ever sighting of a Fieldfare with its rather distinctive call. Unfortunately given the terrible lighting and strong winds I did not get very good view through the scope. There have been numerous sightings across the area though this week so hopefully it is only a matter of time before I get better views.

Elsewhere on the Burry Inlet this weekend, a Spoonbill has apparently made a welcome return, and the Brent Geese are still around in the area of Salthouse Point. If only the clocks hadn't changed I might have been able to go and have a look after work. Oh well.

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Peregrine Falcons At Work

Saturday, November 01, 2008 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


Yesterday afternoon I finally managed to see the bird that has been swooping past my office window most days for the past few months. It turned out to be a male Peregrine Falcon and we were treated to excellent views. The bird was flying slowly back and forth outside our floors windows at eye level, something that you don't see every day. The face mask was clearly visible as were the other markings. There are a number of pigeons that call the office home and we are regularly treated to blooded feathers drifting down past the windows as the birds devour their kills up on the roof. I believe that in addition to the male there may very well be a female or immature bird present around the building as well, as on at least one occasion I have seen a much browner bird fly past. It really is remarkable how these birds are able to utilise these man made structures in our cities and thrive.

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