Patchwork Challenge 11 - Spotted Tick
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
Wednesday, August 07, 2013 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
I wrote about the planning application for this area back in February and was particularly interested in the phrase "creation of wetland habitat". It seems that good progress is being made in that respect with the once barren area of cleared buildings and spoil already reshaped into a series of much more natural contours. There's obviously a long way to go still but it bodes well for the future. The presence of these works has also had a surprising, and most welcome, side effect in that the quantity of illegal off-roading taking place on Cefn Drum has drastically reduced. Even while I was watching two separate vehicles arrived and quickly departed once it was obvious that their main means of access was blocked. I can only hope that once Welsh Water have finished a similar situation will prevail and the fragile slopes are given chance to recover.
Returning via the lower slopes of Cefn Drum a single Wheatear was a welcome surprise. It would be interesting to know if this was a resident bird or one on passage, perhaps the latter given it's very wary nature. Either way it quickly scarpered and I thought that was it from what had been a relatively quiet outing. As it turned out the patch had saved its best for last though in the shape of a single Spotted Flycatcher just behind Cwmdulais cottage. My initial views were very distant but its take off and landing from exactly the same perch immediately set alarm bells ringing and after a few minutes of working myself closer I had the identification confirmed. For me this is absolute patch gold and a real surprise find after having seen another single bird further down the valley last year. Back then I assumed that it must have been just passing through but now I'm not so sure. Admittedly a second individual twelve months later doesn't disprove that theory but it would be nice to think that the small woodland on my patch has yet more secrets to reveal.
On an unrelated note I also found my first Cinnabar Moth caterpillars of the year yesterday and will hopefully try and photograph them tomorrow.
Penclawdd - A Welcome Sunset
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Tuesday, August 06, 2013 Adam Tilt 1 Comments
Burry Port - Graylings, Med Gulls and a Rescue
Monday, August 05, 2013
Monday, August 05, 2013 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
I had a few hours free on Thursday afternoon so headed over to Burry Port for the first time in months. My arrival was greeted with blue sky, a blazing sun and plenty of holidaymakers which initially put a dampener on my plans to watch the high tide roost. Fortunately most of the birds were still present, if a little more distant than I would have liked, out on the sand bank between Pembrey harbour and the lighthouse. There a large gathering consisted of at least 40 Sandwich Terns, 10 Mediterranean Gulls, numerous Black Headed Gulls, a single Great Black Backed Gull and one drying Cormorant. Even further back a couple of hundred Oystercatchers were quietly roosting, right up until two cyclists appeared and flushed the lot. Unsurprisingly the Terns and Gulls were also disturbed although thankfully they didn't travel far and actually ended up a little closer to my position.
A lack of any small waders was slightly disappointing but a Gannet just off Whiteford Point made up for their absence. The sun also seemed to have brought out the butterflies with at least three Grayling feeding, and often fighting, over several flowering Sea Holly plants. I'm used to seeing the latter around autumn time so it was nice to see such pristine examples, most of which were centred on the old stone breakwater east of Pembrey harbour.
Down on the high tide line there were literally hundreds of tiny Moon Jellyfish scattered wherever I looked. Most had suffered under the unrelenting sun but there were still a few in fairly good condition, one of which is shown below. There have been several articles in the national press recently covering a large influx of jellyfish to our waters and I have no doubt that this stranding is just another symptom. It's not the first time and I doubt it will be the last.
Good as all that was it was humans who ultimately provided the best entertainment of the day. For those who don't know our local area has the second highest tidal range in the world which means you've got to be a little more careful than usual when it comes to enjoying the sea. Burry Port is a perfect case in point where large and inviting expanses of sand are cut off in a matter of minutes when the tide starts to rise. Sadly most visitors don't realise the danger (or simply don't care) and it came as no surprise to see the coastguard and RNLI rescue craft heading along the beach. Sure enough a couple of girls had become stranded but were soon in safe hands thanks to our excellent rescue services.
There were another four or five people who were in a similar situation but appeared willing to either wait for the tide to drop or to take the long route back across Pembrey Burrows. Rather them than me that's for sure.
Patchwork Challenge 10 - Keeled Skimmer, Butterflies and Excuses
Saturday, August 03, 2013
Saturday, August 03, 2013 Adam Tilt 4 Comments
So no new species for the patch bird list but there were a few new ticks when it comes to butterflies and dragonflies. Despite the ground being absolutely parched there were several Keeled Skimmers patrolling what's left of the boggiest sections including a female avidly laying eggs. Their discovery was as much of a surprise as their identification because to be honest I'd not heard of the species before. Just goes to show that we're always learning.
There were also a couple of Golden-ringed Dragonflies and what I think were Common Hawkers down in the wooded lower section of the valley. A lack of wind there had created something of a sun trap which was also attracting various butterflies in good number. All were quality species, especially the Peacock which remarkably may be my first of the year. Bit late I know.
Update 06/08/2013 - Many thanks to AJ for identifying the mystery insect as a Large Tachinid.
Mull - The Birds
Friday, August 02, 2013
Friday, August 02, 2013 Adam Tilt 3 Comments
Over on Iona the calling Corncrakes remained tantalisingly out of sight. At times we knew they couldn't be further than a few meters from our position but the lush vegetation kept them safely hidden, a consequence of our late season visit. The island held other delights however including a very obliging adult and juvenile Song Thrush, the former smashing a snail shell open before feeding the contents to its offspring.
Rooks were our treat on Iona's two main sandy beaches, a species that to my knowledge is not found anywhere else on Mull. One pair in particular took my attention as they defended a large and well developed chick, but sadly only the adults came into range.
Calgary beach is probably Mull's most famous location due in no small part to its white sand and tropically clear and blue waters. Holiday makers flock there every summer, but so to it seems do Eider. Each year we've seen at least one family group take up residence and this time was no different with at least six adults and twenty chicks present. Unusually they were being incredibly tolerant of human disturbance and were even mingling amongst people paddling and swimming. That's not something you get to see everyday.
As I mentioned above, Lesser Redpolls were very abundant this year for reasons unknown. Perhaps they've had a particularly good spring or maybe I've just got better at spotting them, but either way they were a delight to see. From Treshnish in the north to Fionnphort in the south we always seemed to be bumping into singles and at times even family groups of these colourful little birds.
Such an abundance of bird life also meant that we had a spectacular opportunity to brush up on our identification skills when it comes to Common and Arctic Terns. And when I say brush up I mean completely refresh as I've never been entirely happy with either. At Langamull beach a single pair of both species have managed to successfully raise at least one chick each with the adults now regularly patrolling the bay. Any perceived threat, no matter how distant, was met with a barrage of noise and skull threatening bombing runs, each one allowing up close views of what my guide reliably tells me are distinctive differences. After over an hour of intense observation I still don't think I'm any clearer so hopefully this is an Arctic Tern as I believe.
I couldn't do a bird post from Mull without including our mascot, Geoffrey. For the uninitiated Geoffrey is of course an Oystercatcher and boy was he making himself heard. Every inch of the coastline echoes to the sound of their calls and to be honest I'd not have it any other way.
Even now I'm barely scratching the surface so here's a quick run-down through some other birding highlights.
Carsaig Arches and Goats
Thursday, August 01, 2013
Thursday, August 01, 2013 Adam Tilt 1 Comments
There was an immense sense of isolation in having such a narrow stretch of the island to explore with the towering cliffs to our right forming an almost unbroken wall beyond which almost anything could have existed. For such a brutal landscape there was a wealth of wildlife present from a family of Spotted Flycatchers through to numerous Yellowhammers and a pair of noisy Ravens. Butterflies and insects crawled over every inch of vegetation while out in the water things got even more spectacular. A splash glimpsed from the corner of my eye soon materialised into a trio of Bottlenose Dolphins travelling at speed just a few meters from shore. We watched mesmerised as they headed back the way we'd come, frequently breaking the surface but never long enough to get the camera onto them. Even better was to come though as one of the three dove completely clear of the water and revealed itself to be a small juvenile. Is there nothing that this island can't deliver? It would appear not as about an hour later they were back, retracing their route and once again giving us simply outstanding views. After that you'd think that a couple of stone arches would have trouble matching up, but match up they did.
Formed through hundreds of years of sea erosion these two natural wonders are one of Mull's best features and well worth the effort it takes to get to them. The closest and largest almost obscures from view the second but we really didn't fancy pushing on any further as from here the path truly is little more than a precarious goat track. Speaking of goats there was one final surprise in store courtesy of an animal that I'd hoped to see and which well and truly delivered.
These are of course wild mountain goats (or feral goats depending on which terminology you prefer), a small population of which call the Ross of Mull home. Precise details concerning their origins have been lost to the mists of time but prevailing thought seems to be that they are either the remnants of stock once farmed by long gone crofters, or more exotically animals which swam ashore from Spanish shipwrecks. Either way they are an intriguing and charismatic addition to Mull's ecosystem that are well worth hunting down if you have the time and inclination. They also seem to bare an uncanny resemblance to the flying dog from "Neverending Story".
- 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.
- ► 2016 (63)
- ► 2015 (155)
- ► 2014 (107)
- ▼ August (7)
- ► 2012 (114)
- ► 2011 (143)
- ► 2010 (127)
- ► 2009 (67)