Whiskered Tern, Eglwys Nunydd
Monday, September 27, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
Lapland Bunting, Kenfig and Turtle Dove, West Cross
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
I would probably still be sitting there now if someone hadn't walked right through our little group and scared the Bunting off. Fortunately it returned to the same spot a few minutes later but I had my excuse to move on.
Once again the bird was incredibly tame and seemed unconcerned by the cycle route traffic passing by a few meters away. It was another top tick and my thanks must go to Jeremy Inglis who originally located it and got the word out.
Grey Phalarope at Eglwys Nunydd
Friday, September 24, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
As usual with Phalarope's this individual had no fear of humans at all. And when I say at all I cannot stress how totally unconcerned it was with my presence. I spent most of my time sitting on the concrete apron of the reservoir within a couple of feet of the bird as it busily fed out on the water. I actually made two visits as the first was in the early morning and the light conditions were just terrible for photography. During this first visit the bird was very mobile as it explored most of one side of the reservoir. The second visit was later in the day but still proved to be extremely dull. To top things off the water was particularly choppy which didn't help. The video below should give a good impression of the conditions. It is worth pointing out that the footage isn't sped up and the camera is steady at all times. You will see why I mention those two points when you watch it.
During the afternoon we popped into Kenfig NNR for a walk out to Sker Point to look at the high tide roost. There were plenty of waders about including 38 Golden Plover, 4 Knot, 6 Lapwing, 1 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone, numerous Curlew and this solitary Sanderling.
Once again though I completely failed to find any of the Yellow Wagtails that are often reported in the fields here. Either I am looking in the wrong places each time or I am just very unlucky. Does anyone know where exactly they are?
Bosherston Otter and St Govans Chough
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 Adam Tilt 4 Comments
During the waiting we also managed to squeeze in a quick visit to St Govan's chapel, a place that I have always wanted to visit ever since seeing a photograph of it on the BBC news website.
As you can see I now have my own photo to remember this unique location by. The chapel is completely hidden from view until you are at the edge of the cliffs above, at which point a steep flight of stairs weaves its way down the hill and through the building itself. I wasn't expecting the building to be in such great condition or so accessible but it was a very nice way to spend an hour. Back up at the top the familiar calls of Chough led my eyes skywards as one swooped down and landed not far away. A quick bit of stealthy maneuvering had me in camera range just as the sun went in. Typical.
I always find Chough incredibly difficult to capture well as they are so black that the camera often struggles to get the colour balance spot on. A strong wind and lack of sun doesn't help either but these are my best shots of the species to date.
We finally gave up on the Hoopoe at four o'clock, disappointed but not disheartened. Despite not seeing the bird we'd had a great time exploring Milford Haven and its surrounds and have plenty of places that we want to go back and see again.
But that is not the end of this particular adventure. With sunset only a couple of hours away we headed over to Bosherston Lilly Ponds, another place that I have wanted to visit for some time. I had a vague recollection that Chris Packham had watched Otters from one of the stone bridges there and fancied my chances. Some would call me an optimist and most would be correct as after a forced march around to the far side of the lakes and an hour or so of waiting we had seen only a Kingfisher and a couple of Cormorants drying their wings. We started to head back when Emma spotted something in the water. Initially I couldn't see anything but moments later a head popped up before slipping back down. It was an Otter! We raced back to the bridge just in time to watch the Otter swim right underneath us and pop up on the other side. For the next five minutes all we could do was watch transfixed as it played in the water just feet away, often pausing to stare curiously at us before carrying on with its activities.
It was almost dark at this point so I switched from stills to video in an effort to capture the moment.
Without a doubt that is one of the single greatest wildlife encounters that I have ever had. To be in a valley, completely alone other than the birds and an Otter as the sun goes down is something that has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. It was simply magical.
I spent the couple of hours after work today stood watching a Bobolink play its best hide and seek game with thirty or so other people along the banks of Eglwys Nunydd near Port Talbot. I must stress that normally my evenings do not involve such strange activities but this time I was willing to make an exception. For a Bobolink. Which I am not afraid to admit I had to google to find out what one actually was after receiving a tweet from Rare Bird Alerts on my iPhone (modern technology really does have its advantages). As it turns out a Bobolink is an American (well that explains the rather strange name) member of the Blackbird family, and has only been recorded 29 times in the UK previously. Therefore to have one pop up literally down the road is quite remarkable.
Bobolink at Eglwys Nunydd, Port Talbot, Glamorgan
Monday, September 20, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
During my visit the bird was being rather elusive spending most if its time in the long grass along the side of the reservoir next to the M4. Thanks to a couple of shall we say 'forward' individuals I got a couple of cracking flight views as it was flushed from the undergrowth before it disappeared once more. These brief displays showed off the yellowish underside perfectly but I couldn't really tick it as a lifer before I had seen enough features for a positive identification myself. Fortunately the Bobolink landed with its head visible just before I left giving me superb views and the all important characteristics that I wanted to see. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any photographs partly because it was so difficult to pin down but mainly because I didn't have my camera with me. You will have to make do with a poor camera phone shot of the crowd instead. The bird was somewhere in the grass to the right.
The strangest thing is that I didn't even know where Eglwys Nunydd was until yesterday. I woke up on Sunday and after a bit of research realised that there was a Grey Phalarope there that was begging to be seen. We duly headed over and got superb views down to a couple of feet and some good photographs to boot (look out for my post on this later in the week). To have a Bobolink turn up the very next day at the same location is amazing and frankly a bit unbelievable. Definitely a place I will be revisiting regularly.
Cwm Dulais - back on patch
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
I spent another hour or so in the valley on Thursday and once again encountered a couple of Green Woodpeckers, possibly the same pair as before. The main difference this time though was that one of the birds was actually in a tree! As we headed on my eye was caught by something shiny in the stream. It turned out to be just a white rock but stood a little further along was a Dipper engaged in some full on dipping and underwater feeding. Fantastic. Moments later my partner spotted a bird of prey coming in from the west. It turned out to be a Buzzard being closely followed by a Peregrine Falcon. Whether this makes the mystery raptor from Wednesday less likely to be a Merlin I am not sure. Is it possible that there could be so many different species in such a small area? I really hope that it is.
One of the other pieces of wildlife that I forgot to mention in my previous post were the Green Leaf Worms that we found at Sker Point. The vast majority of these were seen on the reefs of Honeycomb Worm structures, but only those that were in the shade and thus still relatively damp. I presume that they were trying to protect themselves from the baking sun.
Green Leaf Worm (Eulalia Viridis) at Sker Point
Friday, September 17, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
The worms were surprisingly active and measured between five and fifteen centimeters in length. After a bit of research it turns out that these animals are quite a common occurrence around our coast but I have certainly never come across any before. One post of interest can be found on Jessica's Nature Blog which details the same worms but on Gower. Of particular interest to me was one of the comments that refers to someone seeing these worms at Sker Beach back in July. I guess that usually we just simply overlook them. Has anyone else come across these before?
Whiteford Point Lighthouse and Sker Point
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
Up close the lighthouse is even more impressive than I had imagined. The structure has a grace that I was not expecting whilst some of the finer details are remarkable for a structure of this sort. Although much dilapidated it is still possible to see that the original canopy would have been most impressive. Unfortunately the ladder up to the top has long since been removed but I would love to get up there to see the view and to investigate the towers internals. It's hard to imagine that originally this place would have been home to a keeper for two weeks at a time.
On the walk out to Whiteford Point we saw a couple of Wheatears, 5 Ringed Plovers, 2,000+ Oystercatcher, 3 Dunlin and 20 Knot. A single Sanderling was a nice find feeding amongst the rapidly unveiling muscle beds, as were a couple of Grey Herons. At least 3 Great Crested Grebes were fishing in the water just offshore and we had several small groups of Whimbrel fly past. Also spotted offshore was a group of 12 Eider consisting of mostly juvenile birds. A more unusual sighting was of two Peregrine Falcons on the ground between the lighthouse and the mainland. One of the birds was definitely a male but I couldn't tell the sex of the other. I presume that one of these was the individual that I saw at Pembrey Harbour a couple of weeks ago given that it is just the other side of the estuary from Whiteford. A final bit of excitement was had on the return journey through the woodland that makes up part of Whiteford Burrows. I spotted a large raptor flying through the trees and my initial impression was of a predominantly grey bird. Immediately my thoughts turned to Goshawk but my more cautious side told me that it was much more likely to be something else. Unfortunately my sensible side won out as a few minutes later we located a pale Buzzard flying around the forest. All was not lost though as we did come across this superb Comma Butterfly in the process.
Sunday was another beach day but this time further around the coast at Kenfig National Nature Reserve. The main lake was very quiet with the only notable sightings being a Chiffchaff, a Wheatear, several Mute Swans and a couple of Great Crested Grebes. It wasn't until I reached Sker Point that things started to look up.
Out at sea I picked up 4 Sandwich Terns while on the rocks themselves a single Turnstone put in an appearance. The tide was well out meaning that we couldn't find anything else so our attention turned to the nearby farmland. One field in particular proved fruitful as it held 6 Lapwing and 4 Golden Plover. The Plovers took a good while to identify as they were hunkered down low in the long grass. Just as we had finally decided upon a positive identification a flock of six more flew overhead calling. If they had done that twenty minutes earlier it could have saved a lot of time! It is also worth noting that on the beach I spotted some sizable reefs of Honeycomb Worms. These weren't on the scale of the ones seen at Ogmore previously but were impressive nonetheless.
Black Tern, Common Tern and Sandwich Tern at Pembrey Harbour
Friday, September 10, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
The main objective though was to scan the sandbank opposite the harbour which as you know from previous posts is an ideal location to see birds at high tide. The usual flock of Oystercatchers was as large as ever (I should really count them accurately one of these days to see how many there are) as were the usual mix of gulls including several Common Gulls. Mixing it up with the Geoffrey's (for some reason that is what me and my partner call all Oystercatchers and yes we are slightly mad) was a flock of sixty Knot. As hard as I stared at them I couldn't make one turn into a Curlew Sandpiper despite the numbers which have been seen around the area recently. I have a feeling that they could turn out to be my bogey bird of the season - that or Little Stint. The only other waders present were a group of seven Ringed Plovers.
The main bulk of the birds present, and certainly the most vocal, were the Terns. I counted at least 47 Sandwich Terns and 23 Common Terns but more were arriving all the time so the numbers could easily have been double that. There was a good mix of adults and juveniles with every conceivable variation of plumage between. At times certain birds were fishing not far from my position which gave me superb views as they dropped out of the sky and into the water. If you have the camera equipment and want shots of Terns fishing then I highly recommend Pembrey.
On one of my last scans across the bank before heading home I spotted a very small Tern that looked about half the size of the Commons. Being a birder who always errs on the side of caution I initially put it down to an unusually young juvenile. It wasn't until I spotted it for a second time that I noticed the much darker wings and differing black markings on the head. A moment later the bird was in the air showing a relatively square tail and confirming my first ever self found Black Tern. I was able to watch it fly across the water before being lost to sight over Burry Port. A fabulous bird and a brilliant way to round off the evening.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
Penclawdd Spring Tide - Highest tide of the year
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Thursday, September 09, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
As per usual several of the free roaming Ponies had decided to stand their ground against the oncoming waters. I was a bit concerned as they appeared to be panicking slightly but they soon settled down in their battle of wills against the sea. I have seen this spectacle on numerous occasions now and am always left wandering why they don't just walk to safety before it is too late? Surely they are intelligent enough to notice the pattern and realise what is going on by now.
The rising waters pushed the local birds into ever smaller areas of dry land which meant that it was unusually easy to see just how abundant certain species are on the Burry Inlet. Apart from the hundreds of Gulls I spotted a flock of at least 150 Redshank which is the largest group that I have seen anywhere in the UK. Amongst them was a single Greenshank and a couple of Black Tailed Godwits.
With the sun sinking ever lower it was time to put the binoculars down and watch the sky for any interesting shapes and colours. At one point a very small section of Rainbow became visible which provided an interesting composition with some parked road maintenance vehicles. I accept that they aren't particularly natural but they were certainly catching the sun very well.
The last fifteen minutes or so of the incoming spring tide coincided perfectly with the final descent of the sun. The cloud cover was spot on and I got some brilliant shots. I will leave you with a couple of my favourites to enjoy.
Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera) and Eristalis Hoverfly on Japanese Knotweed
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Wednesday, September 08, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
Over the last week or so the Knotweed has come into flower. Not only has this made the plant almost attractive, but it has also proved an irresistible pull to the local communities of bees. Never one to pass up on an opportunity I thought I would attempt some macro photography as I currently have no bee pictures whatsoever. Once I had plucked up the courage to get close enough to the bees without the fear of being stung I was able to get some decent shots and quickly realised that there were several different species feeding away. Without any identification resource to hand I once again relied on the excellent folks over at the Wild About Britain forum to help me out.
The first species I captured was a Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera). With Honey Bees having a very bad time of it in terms of population crashes over the last decade it is great to see so many of them so close to home.
The second species turned out not to be a bee at all but instead an Eristalis Hoverfly.
There were a couple of other species that I unfortunately didn't manage to photograph but it just goes to show the variety that can be found often right under our noses.
WWT Llanelli Wigeon Return
Monday, September 06, 2010
Monday, September 06, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
Port Eynon Chough, Dolphins, Porpoises, birds and more
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
As we continued we took the Llanrhidian marsh road to look for the Osprey that was present last week. There was no sign this time but I did get to use the car as a mobile hide in order to take the following photograph of a juvenile Swallow.
Several groups of Linnet and Goldfinch were flitting through the bushes as we had a rather close encounter with one of the locals. I have no idea what he found so fascinating with my car but he couldn't stop licking it and seemed very unwilling to get out of the way. In the end I had to nudge him as we moved forward or else we would still be there now!
Eventually we made it to Port Eynon and on a falling tide made our way out to the end of the exposed rocks that make up one of the areas nature reserves. A couple of Turnstones were feeding along the waters edge accompanied by sixteen Ringed Plovers. Unfortunately I didn't spot them in time and put them all up into the air as I took one step too close. Even more skittish was a gathering of eight Wheatear in the same area. This is by far the largest number that I have seen on Gower this year and given their proximity to the sea I presume they are another migration group in waiting.
Next we climbed up to the top of Port Eynon point itself to do a bit of sea watching. I wasn't expecting much given the total lack of wind but a single Guillemot close in to the cliffs was a nice surprise, as were two Herons over the sea and a White Wagtail on the rocks. While scanning the small waves I thought I had spotted a fin and it wasn't long before my suspicions were proven correct. A very friendly man let us use his telescope as we watched six Common Dolphin and four Harbour Porpoise feed in the water about a mile offshore. Common Dolphins are apparently very rare around the Gower coast so this was a real treat. The fishing must have been excellent as a couple of Gannets were also getting in on the act.
Despite the temptation to watch the dolphins all day I needed some exercise so we started the walk around the coast path to Oxwich. The number of butterflies in the sand dunes was amazing with plenty of Speckled Wood, Green Veined White, Red Admiral, Peacock, Common Blue and the following Large White. I think the heat must have given them all extra energy as they were an absolute nightmare to try and photograph as they very rarely settled for long.
The unmistakable call of a Stonechat nearby led me to a juvenile bird in the bracken. I cannot believe how scarce these have been after the harsh winter we had. This is only my second sighting on Gower since the weather warmed up compared to a year ago when they were one of the commonest birds around. I hope that this winter is milder to allow the population to stabilise again. A species that certainly doesn't seem to be suffering is the Chough as we bumped into a group of five birds sat on the cliffs just beneath the path. I think these might have been the same individuals that we saw a couple of months ago at Overton as the chances of there being a similarly sized group in the area must be slim.
The highlights of the day (apart from the dolphins obviously) were to be found in a small woodland area through which the coastal path is currently diverted due to erosion. I spotted a plain looking warbler in a nearby bush and quickly realised that is was a Garden Warbler, my first of the year. Very close by we also saw a very yellow juvenile Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff that kindly gave us a bit of song. For a moment it seemed as though we had been transported back to the spring but as the calendar ticks over to September it is autumn instead that we find ourselves at the mercy of.
- 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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- Video of the Sker Point Lapland Bunting
- Whiskered Tern, Eglwys Nunydd
- Lapland Bunting, Kenfig and Turtle Dove, West Cros...
- Grey Phalarope at Eglwys Nunydd
- Bosherston Otter and St Govans Chough
- Bobolink at Eglwys Nunydd, Port Talbot, Glamorgan
- Cwm Dulais - back on patch
- Green Leaf Worm (Eulalia Viridis) at Sker Point
- Whiteford Point Lighthouse and Sker Point
- Black Tern, Common Tern and Sandwich Tern at Pembr...
- Penclawdd Starlings
- Penclawdd Spring Tide - Highest tide of the year
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- WWT Llanelli Wigeon Return
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