Rhossili - Birds, Birds and Seals

Saturday, March 05, 2011 Adam Tilt 6 Comments


What a brilliant day. For the first time in just about forever the weather gods looked down kindly on me and delivered a day of almost full sunshine with temperatures high enough to require the removal of some winter layers. Destination of choice had to be Rhossili as its hard to think of anywhere that looks more beautiful with a blue sea and a clear sky. Despite a lot of haziness on the horizon that is exactly what I got.

As we are getting closer to the tourist season I arrived nice and early to beat the masses and hopefully improve my chances of catching up with the wildlife before it moved off into the quieter corners. A quick look around St Marys churchyard delivered Song Thrush, Blackbird, Dunnock, Jackdaw, Pied Wagtail and six House Sparrows that were tucking into some of the new buds that are starting to appear on the bushes.

23938 - House Sparrow, Rhossili, Gower
23939 - House Sparrow, Rhossili, Gower
23941 - House Sparrow, Rhossili, Gower

Walking along the cliff tops towards Worms Head it was noticeable how quiet everything was apart from the cacophony of bird song. One of the prime culprits was this Dunnock who was singing his little heart out. If you look closely at the photograph you can just about see its tongue lifted upwards in the process of belting out another note.

23944 - Dunnock, Worms Head, Rhossili, Gower

Equally vocal though less tuneful I would argue was this Raven. Clearly defending or staking its claim to this territory it was patrolling the area throughout my visit.

23945 - Raven, Worms Head, Rhossili, Gower

Calls could also be heard coming from out at sea where a raft of seven Fulmars was floating a few hundred meters off shore. These are the first I have seen this year and it's great to have them back, even if once more I completely failed to get a photo of one in flight! Other signs of the changing seasons were a pair of Chough that had their beaks stuffed with dried grass, presumably to be used for nesting material.

My visit had rather handily coincided with low tide which meant that the tidal causeway that leads from the mainland to Worms Head was clear allowing me to cross. I still find it amazing how much the tide can drop by here in such a short period of time. A few hours later and all the rocks that you can see in the photo below would have been completely submerged.

23963 - Worms Head, Rhossili, Gower

One of the birds taking advantage of the newly exposed feeding areas was the Turnstone below, although this individual was nowhere near as tame as my favourite flock by Mumbles pier. Interestingly I also saw a Herring Gull fly past with a large Starfish in its beak, behaviour that I have only seen previously at Mumbles.

23947 - Turnstone, Worms Head, Rhossili, Gower

The highlight of the day was to be found on the North side of Worms Head itself, where several Grey Seals were hauled up on the rocks. They may look cute and cuddly but check out the claws on the first one.

23948 - Grey Seal, Worms Head, Rhossili, Gower
23951 - Grey Seal, Worms Head, Rhossili, Gower

On the Outer Head I was very pleased to see that the Razorbills and Guillemots are back, with at least a hundred birds present on the cliff and in the water. At the moment Guillemots are by far the most numerous but I couldn't get a good enough viewing angle across much of their nesting ledges to give an accurate assessment. There were also a few more Fulmars out there, including one that looked to be on a nest already.

With the weather forecast looking similarly promising for tomorrow I'm hoping for a very productive Sunday.

6 comments:

  1. Stunning images of a lovely day. Many thanks for sharing.

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  2. Terrific photos of the house sparrow and the what a surprise to see that little seal..SUCH a great friendly face!

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  3. What an impressive list Adam. So very different to what I see inland, obviously; with a few exceptions. The Dunnock in song, is a cracking shot.
    The Grey Seal has cute stamped all over it, but those claws look pretty lethal.

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  4. Nice shots. Funny, I was at Rhossil, and I would have described it as grey and cold! I saw the seals from a distance, but didn't go across. Instead, I went round to mewslade & Fall Bay, and saw a peregrine and Buzzards.

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  5. I was just wondering, having come from Jeremy's blog, whether you two had met up there! How lovely to see the Choughs.

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  6. Andrew - Thanks. It was a cracking day.

    Sondra - It's hard to beat Seals for their cuteness value.

    Keith - I hadn't realised Seals had such big claws until I had a look at that photo. Glad you liked the Dunnock.

    Jeremy - I probably saw you without realising it! It's getting so we all need to wear name badges so that we recognise each other in the real world. And you need to look on the positive side with the weather. It was chilly but not as cold as it has been, and there was definite blueness through the haze that rolled in.

    Caroline - it was just coincidence that we were both there. Probably saw each other but without realising it!

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