Finally the first Wheatear of the year

Saturday, April 10, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


Despite feeling considerably below par today I dragged myself down to Rhossili in the hope that some fresh air and sun would do the world of good. As it turned out they did bugger all but the birds that were around certainly took my mind off things for a while.

Initial impressions upon arrival were not favorable with hundreds of other people also having had the same idea. The walk down to the causeway at Worms Head was relatively lifeless apart from four or five Fulmars who were busy making as much noise as they could by calling and wing slapping whilst they floated around in the sea. A couple did fly up to and land on the cliffs so I wonder if they are planning on nesting. As the tide was in we couldn't cross over to the Worm itself so instead started to walk along the base of the cliffs in the direction of Mewslade. We hadn't gone far when my other half had to nip back up to the car so I carried on alone. You could almost guarantee that I was going to stumble upon something in her absence and sods law was once again in full effect. Feeding along the shore were a male and female Wheatear, my first of the year. There is something about Wheatear's that just elevates them far in excess of the other Spring migrants. I have been very happy to see the Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs etc but for me it is all about the Wheatear. Maybe it is something to do with their exotic colouring or the memories they bring back of being up on the Isle of Mull. Either way I was over the moon. Not to be outdone in the colour stakes a male Linnet in full breeding plumage popped up on the same rocks.

12203 - Male Wheatear at Rhossili
12202 - Male Wheatear at Rhossili 12204 - Male Linnet at Rhossili
(Top and Left) Male Wheatear (Right) Male Linnet

With my head beginning to throb once more I climbed up to the top of the cliffs and began to walk back. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a bird pop up on the wall right next to me. It was a male Blackcap and another 2010 first to boot. What followed was twenty seconds of intense fumbling as I tried to extract my camera from its bag and turn it on as quickly as I could. One day I will realise that I should leave it at all times in camera mode rather than the picture viewer! I needn't have worried as the bird was incredibly tame and seemingly oblivious to our presence. It hopped onto the grass before hopping over the cliff and out of sight. I reckon that this individual was probably a very recent arrival onto our shores given its behavior towards people.

12208 - Male Blackcap at Rhossili 12209 - Male Blackcap at Rhossili

The walk back to the car also provided a male and female Pheasant, a first for me at Rhossili, as well as another male Blackcap in the village itself. There were however no hirundines to be seen. How there can be so many a few miles along the coast but none on Gower I do not know.

The day wasn't without its human side with a bit of excitement regarding a Sea King helicopter and the coastguard. I had heard a few sirens going but wasn't paying much attention until the bright yellow Sea King thundered overhead before hovering near Mewslade Bay. One of the crew was winched down to the ground before the helicopter landed in a nearby field. Through the binoculars I could make out that several people were peering over the cliff but I was none the wiser until I got home this evening. It turns out that a climber on an organised expedition has fallen fifteen meters down the cliffs and had suffered facial injuries. He had to be airlifted to hospital but I am happy to say that his injuries aren't serious.

12205 - Sea King helicopter ober Rhossili 12207 - Sea King helicopter ober Rhossili

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