Strumble Head - Lizards, Spiders and Seals
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
Also enjoying the rich waters around the coast were numerous Grey Seals. A couple were regularly exploring the bay just inshore from the lighthouse offering great views. Another individual was always sitting just around the corner from a couple of fisherman which I found amusing. Unsurprisingly I didn't see the fishermen catch anything. There were also several well grown pups around the area with a couple pulled up on the rocks at Porth Maenmelyn.
At one point during a walk to the north of the head I had to hop over a fence and look over the cliff edge as we could hear what appeared to be a human screaming and moaning. It turned out to be an adult seal with quite a severe wound on its neck. I have no idea what caused this but it was certainly a slightly unsettling moment.
The wildlife certainly wasn't limited to the sea as we came across the following Common Lizard out on a rock enjoying the sun.
The final and most unusual wildlife encounter was an ambitious Garden Spider which had managed to bag itself a grasshopper in its web.
At the time of photographing the spider was taking a break from the process of wrapping the grasshopper up. I'm not surprised really as the size difference between the two is quite impressive. Has anyone ever seen anything bigger in a spiders web before?
Strumble Head - The Birds
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
Friday saw us up early and in place at the Strumble Head bird observatory (converted from an old WW2 listening station), hopeful of adding a few lifers to my list. Unfortunately I had made a bit of a schoolboy error in that the almost perfect weather was just about the worst possible conditions to see birds from Strumble Head in. What is needed is a storm or strong wind to drive the birds closer into shore and so within viewing distance. Determined not to leave empty handed we watched for a couple of hours and were ultimately rewarded with a sighting of one of my all time bogey birds, the Common Scoter. In all we saw twenty nine individuals in a couple of flocks which was simply superb. Also present were the usual Razorbills and Guillemots, as well as twelve Manx Shearwater and fifteen or so Gannet fishing in front of the observatory. Numerous Shag and Kittiwake were also giving regular fly pasts, and a female Peregrine Falcon even put in a brief appearance.
Outside of the observatory I was very pleased to finally locate the missing Wheatear's that I mentioned in my previous post. It turns out that they aren't scarce this year, they just all seem to have decided to stay on the Pembrokeshire coast instead. There were numerous individuals all along the coast path and their calls filled in a void that had been missing from my outings these last few months.
Our walk along the coast delivered five Chough both feeding in a field and flying overhead calling noisily. They really do have a very distinctive call and it was great to see these birds doing so well. We even had a couple fly over our campsite while we were cooking at the end of the day. You can't really get a better ending to a day than that!
For the first time we also had a walk along Fishguard harbor near to where the ferries dock. Whilst stalking some Oystercatchers I became aware of a small wader running right past my feet. I quickly switched my attention and was able to get some superb close shots of a Dunlin. The bird seemed oblivious to my presence and gave me a wonderful sequence of shots that really made my day. I was also able to get up close and personal with some Turnstones after crawling along the beach hidden from their view by a groyne. A slightly unorthodox method but one that certainly delivered the results.
One bird that did give me the runaround all holiday was the Stonechat. No matter how hard I tried I could never get close enough to get a decent photograph before they took flight. I did eventually manage to get a decent shot but it was right at the end of our final day. It was also great to see a family of House Sparrows feeding near to our tent.
Gower, Barmouth, RAW and off to Strumble Head
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
Saturday saw me take a walk from Penrice castle along the coast to Three Cliffs Bay, before looping back inland along the spine of Cefn Bryn. As expected for this time of year the birds on display were rather limited and the lighting was terrible for photography anyway. We did get excellent views of a Kestrel hunting along the cliffs, as well as a couple of juvenile Stonechats and a family of Blackcaps at Three Cliffs Bay. Also of note was a single Garden Warbler of which I managed to get a record shot. Considering this is supposedly one of the most common birds in the country, this is only the second individual that I have been confident in identifying. Up on Cefn Bryn itself I finally saw my first Wheatear of the year for Wales. On Mull around Easter they were everywhere but numbers seem drastically down in my part of Wales this year. I'd be interested to see if anyone has any official statistics or details concerning whether or not this has been a bad year elsewhere. A quick visit to Mumbles delivered another five adult and one juvenile Mediterranean Gull, whilst another couple were present at Sandy Water Park near Llanelli. This was another life tick for my parents so all in all it proved to be a rather successful day.
From Monday to Wednesday I went to Barmouth with some old school friends to wind down a bit. Birding was obviously limited but a walk over the railway bridge did deliver numerous Oystercatchers and Meadow Pipits. Strangely I didn't see a single Red Kite for the whole of my three day stay. Buzzards were present in good numbers though and were frequently heard calling from trees or overhead. The walk also yielded a superb Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus) devouring some freshly caught prey, as well as a Fox Moth caterpillar.
I mentioned in the title for this post RAW. On a return trip to see the Glossy Ibis I decided to have a go at shooting RAW for the first time seeing as my camera has the capability. Taking the pictures was virtually the same apart from an extra second to store the picture onto the memory card. All good so far. However, when I came to edit them I just couldn't get the results that I was looking for. The pictures either weren't sharp enough, the colour was off or the whole thing just ended up looking a mess. I am using Silkypix to do the processing as this came bundled with the camera. I am sure that it is a very good program, but for a complete novice it is a bit daunting. I think that a lot more practice is needed. For now I will shoot in RAW + JPEG mode so that I can have a bit of a play without losing any shots due to my ineptitude with Silkypix.
And finally. At long last we have a high pressure sitting over the country for the next few days meaning good weather is on the cards. To make the most of it I am going to Strumble Head in Pembrokeshire to get a bit of sea watching in as well as walk a bit more of the coastal path. If I see even half of the species that have been seen over the last few days there then I am looking for at least five new lifers so I am rather excited. Wish me look and I will bring you all the news on my return.
Glossy Ibis at Old Pembrey Harbour
Friday, September 04, 2009
Friday, September 04, 2009 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
For now I will leave you with a few photos and a map to find them for yourselves. I expect the Glossy Ibis to be around tomorrow so get down and have a look.
A Typical Bank Holiday in Wales
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Wednesday, September 02, 2009 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
- Hello! I'm a thirty something blogger based in Wales with an avid interest in birds, nature, wildlife photography, walking, mountain climbing and kayaking. I love anything that involves the natural world and being outside, though rain and I just don't get along. We regularly find ourselves venturing to the Isle of Mull and harbour dreams to move there one day soon. This blog aims to share our adventures and, who knows, hopefully inspire a few people along the way.
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