Masked Crabs, Port Eynon
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Wednesday, May 29, 2013 Adam Tilt 1 Comments
Unlike most crabs that walk sideways and often dash for cover, the Masked Crab instead burrows backwards into the sand to hide. From there it breaths through two specially adapted antennae which have evolved into a tube that can be left exposed to open water. A remarkable evolutionary step that we witnessed being put to good use when a couple of the crabs decided that instead of standing their ground they would head beneath our feet. In a matter of seconds their bodies were completely submerged with just the very tip of that breathing tube visible. We certainly reconsidered walking barefoot after that.
Patchwork Challenge 9 - New Life
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 Adam Tilt 11 Comments
A short distance away the short, sharp peeps of recently fledged Robins led me to three very tame individuals. The parents were nowhere to be seen and as I crouched in a ditch the young birds approached to within a meter of my position. With their gapes still on show and a tuft of feathers above each eye they were the perfect vision of spring in action.
Another couple of Robin families were spread out across the valley floor with further breeding success evidenced by two juvenile Stonechats. Some species are clearly a little way behind with this Crows nest holding a sitting bird. Whether on eggs or chicks I couldn't tell you but it's certainly quite exposed to the elements.
The usual culprits were all in attendance but it's worth noting a marked increase in Linnet numbers at last with at least six birds now present. Yellowhammers are also finally beginning to show themselves more readily with a stunning male and at least another two birds in the same locality as the young Robins above. There was also the unusual sight of a male Blackbird chasing off a Jay who had no doubt strayed too close to its nest. Who knows what will turn up next.
Herring Gull, Blue BBX
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
Regular readers may remember the ringed Herring Gull that I spotted a couple of weeks ago at Mumbles Head. Originally I read the ring as X88 but a quick internet search soon turned up a hit on the Gower OS blog for Blue BBX. Further analysis of my photos has revealed that this is the very same bird and so I sent my sighting off to Peter Stewart of Midland gull ringing fame. In just a couple of hours I had its life history in my hands (thanks Peter). It reads as follows:
16/12/06 Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire. 51.56N 02.16W
28/09/07 Gloucester Landfill Site, nr Hempsted, Gloucestershire (286 days)
25/11/09 Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea (121 km, WSW, 2 yrs 344days)
04/09/11 Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea (121 km, WSW, 4 yrs 262days)
11/05/13 Mumbles Head, Swansea (121 km, WSW, 6 yrs 146days)
RSPB Dinas - A Splash of Spring Colour
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Thursday, May 23, 2013 Adam Tilt 5 Comments
A few footsteps took me into more mature woodland and I immediately picked up a Garden Warbler skulking through the vegetation. Notable for its plainness it was soon into more open terrain and singing at full volume. As I raised the camera my attention was immediately taken by a flash of colour and another song from above. Squinting into the glare a male Redstart was simply unmistakeable and I fired off a few frames even though the lighting was far from ideal. Having never managed to get one of these stunner's on camera before I was not going to miss this opportunity.
I was still barely into the reserve and having seen several key species already, I knew it was going to be a good day. Indeed that proved to be the case with continued excellent views of the above across the reserve, interspersed with some great encounters with our more common birds. A Dipper on the river is always a nice sight, if however briefly, but this tame Nuthatch was really taking the biscuit.
It was feeding rapidly from both the ground and lower sections of tree trunks, always on the move but never more than a couple of meters from my position. Having never encountered one quite so accommodating before it was a real treat to watch even though its refusal to sit still was slightly frustrating from a photographic point of view. Fortunately the equally tame and colourful Chaffinches were more than willing to pose for as long as it took.
Roughly half way around the reserve I finally heard the one call that epitomises this habitat for me as two Wood Warblers started a sing-off high up in the trees. Following their sound up the steeply sloped woodland floor soon found me enjoying some of my best, and certainly longest, views of this species. Each outburst from the individual below was challenged by a rival not more than a couple of trees across, interspersed with occasional bouts of fly catching.
Another few hundred meters and this time it was the turn of two Tree Pipits to add their voices to the rich tapestry already being woven. I spotted one feeding on the ground and moved in to try and better the decent shots I got here last year. The pipit had different ideas though and after being led a merry dance beneath the increasingly warm sun I conceded defeat and left them to it. If I remember correctly this is the fourth year in a row that the Tree Pipits have been back on exactly the same territory.
Other highlights of the day included a solitary Mistle Thrush, singles of Red Kite and Buzzard plus an impressive count of Wrens. As usual there was not a single Chiffchaff to be heard there which I always find quite strange, but I did enjoy watching a Blue Tit feed a well developed fledgling. Further breeding behaviour was exhibited by a Long Tailed Tit with its beak stuffed full of insects and one of the aforementioned Wrens carrying away several small sticks. It was left to this Grey Wagtail to finish off the day though, sitting on a small bridge right next to where I'd parked the car.
My final tally for the day stands at twelve Wood Warblers, seven Redstarts, two Tree Pipits, thirteen Pied Flycatchers and three Spotted Flycatchers. The true populations are undoubtedly higher.What a place.
Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata)
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
With two outings and two successful catches I think we can consider my home built effort a success. A how to guide will be coming in the next few weeks if you want to have a bash at building one yourself.
Patchwork Challenge 8 - Three More
Friday, May 17, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
While on the subject of hirundines I spent a delightful few minutes watching a pair of Swallows hawking for insects in the narrow cutting below Cwmdulais cottages on Monday. As the sun broke through the new leaf cover it produced some fantastic lighting which showed pefectly the abundance of insects that have now emerged.
Patchwork Challenge 7 - Let's Go Fly a Kite
Monday, May 13, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
It seems wise at this point to include a map of my patch again as a refresher for anyone that missed it first time around. The long thin protrusion heading north east may at first glance seem like an odd inclusion, but let me assure you that it's there for very tactical reasons. It follows the route of an old tramway that used to serve coal mines back in the late 1800's and affords excellent views over the valley floor as well as another superb, though inaccessible, area of woodland. It also has the honour of being the only location locally that I've seen Redstarts, something which I'd love to repeat this year.
It is however a fair distance from home which has meant that thus far I haven't given it as much attention as I would have liked. This trip was to change all that though with a thorough investigation from end to end. I had been hoping for my first patch Whitethroat but with the Bracken still barely peaking above ground I think they'll be a while yet in coming. Instead I was left to enjoy a plethora of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs along with a constant backdrop of yaffling Green Woodpeckers. The strong winds also seemed to be creating an interesting up-draft which was being enjoyed by a constant passage of Herring Gulls, three Buzzards, two Red Kites and the occasional Raven. At times all of the above were sharing the same airspace which unsurprisingly led to a few disagreements. It was the pair of Red Kites which really held my attention though as they performed what I presume to be a courtship display. It began with one of the birds appearing above the horizon with an item of prey fixed in its talons. The second bird approached from a short distance away which kick-started a series of flips and tight turns from both until I lost sight of them behind the hill. When they returned the prey was gone and they were both soaring together right above my head with frequent returns to the twisting and flipping display that I'd just witnessed. Now birds in flight has never been the strong point of my camera but I did my best to capture a little bit of the action.
In all I watched the Red Kites for well over twenty minutes before they finally drifted off again and out of sight. What a fantastic display from what I presume are the same birds that I see hunting around the house.
Mumbles Head - Eiders and Ravens
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Saturday, May 11, 2013 Adam Tilt 4 Comments
The nearby rocks held a couple of Mediterranean Gulls and a single Oystercatcher, neither of which looked willing to take an approach. Instead I checked the tides and headed across to the outer island at Mumbles Head to see if the blustery conditions had grounded anything of interest. They hadn't but a pair of Ravens put on an extraordinary vocal display as I followed the path to the lighthouse. Never before have I had one of these large birds willingly sit at such close quarters and it was a privilege to behold. I can only presume that they have a nest nearby especially as one of them was seen carrying food down the cliffs. Needless to say I gave them as wide a birth as possible which wasn't that easy on such a tiny island.
Once I'd finally given the Ravens the slip it was into one of the old world war two gun emplacements to shelter from the ever strengthening wind. From there I had a commanding view over Swansea Bay and the Bristol Channel which would have been ideal if some of the Skuas that have been popping up along the coast this weekend had deigned to pass Mumbles. It wasn't to be though I did take great pleasure in watching an Arctic Tern fishing just off shore.
With any cobwebs suitably blown away I retreated back down to the causeway where four Turnstones were doing their best to feed. It was one of the Herring Gulls that really grabbed the eye though, most likely due to the huge orange ring on its left leg. I've had real difficulty reading the lettering on it but my best guess so far is X88. I shall try and find out more information on the birds origins next week.
Over at the pier it was hard to miss the noise that signals the Kittiwakes are back in the house. My rough count puts the colony at over one hundred and fifty birds and it's great to see that the temporary shelving put up while the pier is being restored is now in full use. Rather worryingly though there seems to be little evidence of nest building so far.
From there it was back home for another bash of the local patch which turned out to be equally productive.....
Patchwork Challenge 6 - Reeling Grasshopper Warbler
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Thursday, May 09, 2013 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
Thinking back I can't imagine that the appearance of these two birds represents a new species for the area, rather it shows an increased awareness on my part. I've probably heard the calls many times before but for some reason just never picked up on their significance. Further weight was added to this hypothesis last weekend while camping in north Wales. Walking into Beddgelert it was hard to miss another Grasshopper Warbler reeling from undergrowth just outside our campsite. How many have I unwittingly passed in the last few years I wonder?
- 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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- North and South on the Burry Inlet
- Masked Crabs, Port Eynon
- Patchwork Challenge 9 - New Life
- Herring Gull, Blue BBX
- RSPB Dinas - A Splash of Spring Colour
- Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata)
- Patchwork Challenge 8 - Three More
- Patchwork Challenge 7 - Let's Go Fly a Kite
- Mumbles Head - Eiders and Ravens
- Patchwork Challenge 6 - Reeling Grasshopper Warble...
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