Pen y Fan Dusting
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Sunday, December 28, 2014 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
Cardiff Bay - Black Redstarts and Reed Buntings
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Wednesday, December 24, 2014 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
A couple of weeks ago we caught the train to Cardiff and after a short walk from the city centre found ourselves once more on a five mile circuit of its bay. Conditions were perfect with a clear sky and nothing more than a slight breeze that didn't drop temperatures any lower than comfortable. First port of call was Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve, one of the schemes constructed to help compensate for lost saltmarsh and tidal mudflat habitat. Clearly however it was never going to be a direct replacement and today provides a valuable home to Reed Buntings, Sedge Warblers and other reed dwelling species instead of the Redshanks and Shelducks which have long since moved away. In fact it was a pair of those aforementioned Reed Buntings which got the day off to an excellent start as we watched them avidly feeding on seeds.
Hatton - Locks and Redwings
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Tuesday, December 16, 2014 Adam Tilt 6 Comments
An Unkindness of Ravens
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Sunday, December 14, 2014 Adam Tilt 7 Comments
Lower Brockhampton - Siskins and Soup
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Saturday, December 13, 2014 Adam Tilt 4 Comments
Arriving early allowed us an almost uninterrupted walk down from the top gate through mixed woodland to the view you see above. This imposing Georgian residence is now in private hands but still makes one hell of a statement amongst the rolling Hertfordshire hills. I just wish they hadn't built a huge conservatory on the side as it does rather spoil the spectacle. Aesthetics aside I was pleasantly surprised to see just how many birds were about with a Grey Wagtail feeding along the banks of the pond above, three Stock Doves overhead, numerous Nuthatches, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds and perhaps best of all my first Siskins for what seems like an absolute age. I don't know what the cause has been but they've remained incredibly elusive this year with even our most reliable spot on Mull having drawn a blank. I'm not aware of any national population crisis so can only presume that we've been unlucky making this small group even more special than usual.
Creation of New Saltmarsh at Cwm Ivy
Friday, December 12, 2014
Friday, December 12, 2014 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
BBC News: North Gower farmland to return to saltmarsh habitat
Natural Resources Wales: New project to create compensatory saltmarsh habitat
More From Penwyllt Quarry
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 Adam Tilt 5 Comments
Penwyllt Quarry and Ogof Ffynnon Ddu
Monday, December 08, 2014
Monday, December 08, 2014 Adam Tilt 6 Comments
Holkham, Salthouse and Cley - Birding Nirvana
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 Adam Tilt 13 Comments
Until you've experienced the sight and sound of thousands of Geese on the move it's simply not possible to appreciate the sheer joy such a spectacle can bring. Your whole being becomes engaged in the simple beauty of nature and there could have been no better launch pad for the hours ahead. Even the closest fields offered their own additions to the rich tapestry of life on show with a couple of Egyptian Geese (which made an extraordinary sound in flight) plus numerous Moorhen, Wigeon and a distant Marsh Harrier quartering marshland off towards Wells.
Titchwell - Dawn 'till Dusk
Friday, November 14, 2014
Friday, November 14, 2014 Adam Tilt 3 Comments
Llanelli Waders Including a Late Common Sandpiper
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 Adam Tilt 6 Comments
The first rays of sunlight started to poke their way through only a couple of minutes later allowing me to pick out an impressive count of 368 Redshank on the mudflats above. Mixed in were a few Teal and Curlew plus a lone Little Egret but despite much searching I couldn’t turn any of the floating debris into a Phalarope. Believe me I tried. Nearby a trio of Carrion Crows looked suitable glum as I made my way across to Llanelli’s north dock.
Return of Mumbles Pier
Monday, November 10, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
For those of you who've not been following this long running saga perhaps a little background is in order. Built in 1898 Mumbles pier has walked the well-trodden path of many of Britain's piers with a typical story of boom and slow decline though thankfully without the devastating fires which have claimed so many of these magnificent Victorian structures. Its last major refurbishment took place in 1956 and despite ad-hoc maintenance during the following years its state today is far from sustainable and resulted in a major redevelopment plan being drawn up. Spearheading this work has been the construction of a brand new multimillion pound lifeboat station in place of the old pier-head with work elsewhere being funded through the sale of land along the foreshore. Needless to say various planning wrangles have left much of the plan as just that though thankfully the lifeboat station is now up and running with access via a temporary path along the increasingly decrepit pier. You only need to look at the photo above to see why these improvements are so urgent.
Remember, Remember the 5th of November
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Wednesday, November 05, 2014 Adam Tilt 3 Comments
November Arrives in Style
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Tuesday, November 04, 2014 Adam Tilt 1 Comments
Weekend Review - "A Message from Martha" by Mark Avery
Saturday, November 01, 2014
Saturday, November 01, 2014 Adam Tilt 4 Comments
September 1st, 2014 marked the centenary of one of the best-documented extinctions in history - the demise of the Passenger Pigeon. From being the commonest bird on the planet 50 years earlier, the species became extinct on that fateful day, with the death in Cincinnati Zoo of Martha - the last of her kind. This book tells the tale of the Passenger Pigeon, and of Martha, and of author Mark Avery's journey in search of them. - Amazon
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: July 24th, 2014
I've been reading virtually non-stop today, so deeply engrossed in Mark Avery's latest book "A Message from Martha" that finishing has left me at something of a loss as to what to do next. The only suitable option I could come up with was to switch on this computer and write a review, though not having undertaken such a task for over a decade I've no real idea what form it should take. Perhaps therefore it's best to start at the beginning with an admission that despite my love of birds I'd never really heard of the Passenger Pigeon. Carrier yes, Wood definitely but what was once the most numerous bird in the world? Somehow not. Take your pick at whose door the fault for this omission should lie but in reality we should, as the human race, take a collective responsibility for not holding up the Passenger Pigeon as a lesson against which all our future actions should be measured. Perhaps it's a general malaise at hearing about just another extinct species, and an American one at that, but to not have learnt from the loss of a bird whose flocks could number in the billions would have been to waste one of the most dramatic and sobering extinction events of recent times.
Disclaimer: all views are my own based on a personal purchase, of my own volition, that I think others may enjoy.
Autumn on the River Ogmore
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Thursday, October 30, 2014 Adam Tilt 10 Comments
The estuary roost was pretty quiet with a couple of Oystercatchers and Curlew being the only waders present although another group had earlier managed to pick out two Purple Sandpipers. If ever there was a bogey bird for me here then that has to be it as I’ve never seen one despite checking their regular haunts on numerous occasions. Thank goodness the Aberystwyth birds are more confiding otherwise I’d have been pulling my hair out by now!
An Introduction to Harvestmen by SEWBReC
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Tuesday, October 28, 2014 Adam Tilt 1 Comments
Fungi and Curlew Sandpiper at WWT Llanelli
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Sunday, October 26, 2014 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
Friday, October 24, 2014
Friday, October 24, 2014 Adam Tilt 8 Comments
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Thursday, October 23, 2014 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
The views looking out to Worm's Head were still as impressive as on our very first visit here some seven years ago now, as was the sweep of Rhossili Bay off to our right. Interestingly there was a new line of posts sticking out of the sand which at first glance appeared to be another shipwreck exposed as a result of the beaches ever changing profile. Closer inspection however revealed them to be far too linear for those origins and suggest perhaps some remnant of second world war defences, possibly barbed wire intended to prevent invasion.
Seasons Collide at WWT Llanelli
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 Adam Tilt 8 Comments
Walking out into the reserve proper saw conditions continue to improve bringing a Red Admiral onto the wing whilst overhead a flock of Jackdaws gave their typically raucous welcome. The usual commoner species such as Dunnock and Blackbird were quickly ticked off before meteorological conditions once again grabbed my attention with a powerful rainbow off towards town.
Beech Birding Bonanza
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
Isle of Mull 2014 - Cruachan Treshnish and Glac Gugairidh
Monday, October 20, 2014
Monday, October 20, 2014 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
Written on 02/10/2014, Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull 2014 – ‘S Airde Beinn, Crater Loch
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Sunday, October 19, 2014 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
Up at the top a short half hour walk takes you around the entire perimeter, a stroll that today at least was accompanied by gale force winds. The views on offer, when it was possible to hold the camera still at any rate, were both spectacular and far reaching. I even got to pick out the setting for a couple of blogs I follow over on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.
Written on 01/10/2014, Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull 2014 – MacCulloch’s Fossil Tree, Burg
Friday, October 17, 2014
Friday, October 17, 2014 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
Signposts from the main road above Kilfinichen Bay lead you first along a metalled surface, then gravel, to the National Trust for Scotland’s car park nestled in amongst the trees above Loch Scridain. On such a gloriously sunny day and with an almost perfect forecast we were somewhat surprised to find our vehicle the only one present. As it turned out this was only a foretelling of the remoteness that lay ahead of us, ten miles through some of the most broken and untamed scenery on Mull. And yet the start could not have been more welcoming as we wound our way along a well-made track through pleasant forests with almost unrestricted views across to the Ross of Mull at our left.
Written on 30/09/2014, Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull 2014 – Potting the Reds
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Thursday, October 16, 2014 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
With only a couple of hours until dusk, and probably even less before the next storm arrived, we set off to explore the hill directly behind our house. Standing wide and squat its mixture of peat bog, moorland and rocky outcrops makes for a challenging walk at the best of times though almost minimal human visitation means that anything found is often being done so for the very first time. So it proved today with the remains of a young Red Deer foal located just below the summit, its short life a mystery for now and evermore. Based on recent observations there are plenty of Red Deer which did make it into adulthood though and it didn’t take long to spot signs of their habitation. For most of the week we’ve been finding shallow, muddy pools which up until now had remained a mystery. They looked almost as if they’d been dug to provide a watering hole though for what and by whom we couldn’t fathom. That was of course until Emma remembered reading that stags will often roll around in such pools to spread their strong rutting odour across the entire body. Suddenly all those little details started to make sense with hoof/antler marks visible in the mud and material thrown wide in the process scattered across surrounding vegetation.
Written on 29/09/2014, Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull 2014 – Trig Bagging at Quinish
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Wednesday, October 15, 2014 Adam Tilt 3 Comments
Testosterone induced antics weren’t the only delights to be had on this first truly sunny morning in several days. Oh no. First up was a male Hen Harrier giving more superb flight views as it quartered the hillside before heading off in the direction of the deer (a rutting fan perhaps?), followed by a female Yellowhammer on our bird feeders. They’ve usually been a reliable fixture but had been strangely absent this year so it’s good to finally have one turn up. Also of interest were a family of Song Thrushes and four fly-over Mistle Thrushes, a new species for us in the valley.
Written on 28/09/2014, Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull 2014 – Deer Stalking and Dun Aisgain
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Tuesday, October 14, 2014 Adam Tilt 5 Comments
Blazing Sunset over Llanelli
Monday, October 13, 2014
Monday, October 13, 2014 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
Next up, back to Mull for a spot of Red Deer stalking.
Written on 27/09/2014, Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull 2014 – Otters but no Manxies
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Sunday, October 12, 2014 Adam Tilt 6 Comments
A couple of hours later and our wave skimming friends remained conspicuous by their absence but as a consolation prize a quartet of diving Gannets is always going to take some beating. There was a mixture of adult and juvenile birds in and around the coastal waters, most diving close enough to see each splash and almost feel the resulting impact. Keeping them company were a decent number of Kittiwakes (again adults and juveniles) plus Common Gulls and the occasional Guillemot/Razorbill. More unusual were a female Red-breasted Merganser and two Mallards, the latter perhaps wisely retreating back towards the farm instead of heading out to sea. Speaking of which the farm proved to be a goldmine for harder to find Mull species including our first Linnets of the trip as well as two overflying flocks of Golden Plovers. There was even another Snipe which again managed to evade detection until we were literally within touching distance before erupting into the air. I swear they’ll give someone a heart attack one of these days. Best of all though was an Otter which swam around from the bay before hauling out onto rocks beneath us. After finishing off whatever juicy morsel hung from its jaws it spent the next ten minutes or so fishing in a large rock pool before disappearing after one final dive.
Written on 26/09/2014, Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull 2014 - Climbing Ben More
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Saturday, October 11, 2014 Adam Tilt 4 Comments
Standing 966 meters tall Ben More is the only island Munro outside of Skye and dominates the landscape as you travel down Loch na Keal. What makes it all the scarier however is the realisation that you have to climb that height from sea level. No starting from half way up here a la Snowdon. Oh no. Every one of those meters is there for the taking and that’s exactly what we did.
Written on 25/09/2014, Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull 2014 - Marooned
Friday, October 10, 2014
Friday, October 10, 2014 Adam Tilt 4 Comments
We did manage one trip down to the beach during a brief respite where visibility at least had picked up enough to allow a short spell of sea watching. Gannets seemed to be the main protagonists with a mixture of adult and juvenile birds making their way out of the loch. Several were seen to dive though how they can spot anything amongst the tumbling waves is another mystery in itself. Small groups of Kittiwakes were also on the move whilst along the shore a hardy group of Rock Pipits went about their business.
Written on 24/09/2014, Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull 2014 – Langamull: Eagles, Eagles Everywhere
Thursday, October 09, 2014
Thursday, October 09, 2014 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
Upon leaving the car we almost immediately spotted a White-tailed Eagle being harangued by two Hooded Crows, the actions of which quickly took all three below the horizon and out of sight. Moments later though and the former was back, this time with two more White-tailed Eagles as backup. All were untagged and gave a staggering display as they flew circuits low overhead, often close enough to be able to hear the wind rushing through their wings. Of course close is a relative term with birds this big but they certainly made it easier than normal to get a frame-filler.
Written on 23/09/2014, Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull 2014 – Sodden in Balamory
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Wednesday, October 08, 2014 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
Another short drive brought us to our next stop at Dervaig. Although the tide was still relatively high there were plenty of waders present including six Ringed Plover, four Dunlin and my first pair of Greenshanks seen anywhere this year. I’m not quite sure how that particular barren patch had been allowed to continue but perhaps more importantly they represented only my second ever Mull record, the first coming over at Loch Don several years ago. Also present were a vast array of Rock Doves, some with increasingly dubious plumage, plus three Little Grebes and a cracking Dipper. The latter was feeding around and under the road bridge, another good record for the area. Out in the loch a female Red-breasted Merganser made a somewhat inelegant entrance but gave a good show as she set about some intensive preening.
Written on 22/09/2014, Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull 2014 - Eagle Valley
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Tuesday, October 07, 2014 Adam Tilt 1 Comments
With that the plan for the rest of the day was pretty much made for us so we headed off down the valley. Almost immediately we spotted the White-tailed Eagle again, this time passing from right to left between two headlands before putting the frights up a group of roosting Shags. Creeping closer the hope was that it had landed somewhere on the wave cut platform below but clearly our approach had not been as stealthy as it could have been. Even before we’d popped our heads over the cliff edge it was up into the air though we never could have anticipated the way in which it turned back and practically hovered directly overhead. Though the lighting was terrible they were the best ever views I’ve had of a bird that even here can make a Goldie look small.
Isle of Mull 2014 - Otter Potter to Treshnish
Monday, October 06, 2014
Monday, October 06, 2014 Adam Tilt 21 Comments
Today’s walk would take us along the coast to Treshnish and we’d barely got going before our first Golden Eagle sighting of the day. Soaring up from the cliffs it was soon joined by a second bird and together they climbed high up into the sky. A Kestrel was doing its up-most to harry them along but as expected this minor irritation was having no noticeable effect. On Mull even Golden Eagles sometimes have to play second fiddle however as my attention was drawn to a disturbance in the millpond like sea, one which quickly resolved itself into two Otters. They were busy fishing some distance off shore and gave great views as we worked our way along the cliffs. By the time we’d dragged our eyes away the Golden Eagles had taken their leave but I had no doubt they would be back again soon enough.
Isle of Mull 2014 – A Golden Arrival
Sunday, October 05, 2014
Sunday, October 05, 2014 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
Late Summer Sunsets
Friday, October 03, 2014
Friday, October 03, 2014 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
Barrel Jellyfish Strandings on Gower
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Tuesday, September 30, 2014 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
Beach Finds - Shark Fin Cartilage, or not?
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Saturday, September 27, 2014 Adam Tilt 2 Comments
Much to my disappointment, and I'm sure your own, I have to put my hands up to having made a bit of a blooper here. Thank god it wasn't on the internet for all to see. The bone fragment below is in fact part of a birds sternum, species still unknown, not as first suspected shark fin cartilage. In my defence the shape is damned close but alas my inner child will have to accept reality though it's still a fascinating specimen to add to my burgeoning collection. I'll keep the blurb below as at the very least I learned something new about shark physiology and hopefully I can help prevent anyone else from making the same glaring error.
Another of my prized finds from many hours spent beachcombing is this
Unlike you or I the skeleton of a shark is made up almost entirely from cartilage. This has the principle advantage of being lighter than bone meaning that the shark need exert far less energy to propel itself through the water. The animal loses no structural strength however as its skin is so thick that it acts almost like an external skeleton to which all the muscles are attached. This direct connection between muscle and skin is more efficient than typical physiology and is no doubt just another reason for the groups success.
Beach Finds - Gannet Skull
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Wednesday, September 24, 2014 Adam Tilt 4 Comments
Beachcombing is an activity that consists of an individual "combing" (or searching) the beach and the intertidal zone, looking for things of value, interest or utility. A beachcomber is a person who participates in the activity of beachcombing. Source: WikipediaWith my love of the coast it is perhaps inevitable, even predictable, that the beachcombing bug would eventually have taken me under its wing. From a very young age we are encouraged to bring back a nice shell or interesting rock from family holidays so it only seems natural to continue that attraction for collecting into adulthood. Of course many of the most fascinating discoveries have to be left in place such as jellyfish or even the WW2 artillery shell I once found on Gower, but there are plenty of other things that worm their way back into our homes. Sitting behind me right now for instance is a bookcase containing everything from an old buoy and pieces of driftwood to my prized Oystercatcher skull which I still can't believe we found completely intact. Last years trip to Mull resulted in another fantastic addition to this collection with the discovery of a Gannet skull at Port Uisken.
Autumn Spring Tides
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Sunday, September 21, 2014 Adam Tilt 0 Comments
Eventually even these small refuges were no more forcing the birds further upriver with me not far behind. As it turned out I couldn't actually get much beyond the old piles of slag behind Penclawdd where at least thirty Pied Wagtails were roosting when not squabbling amongst themselves. In the middle of the chaos sat a single Common Sandpiper, my first for quite a while, with at least nine Little Egrets and four Grey Herons also in attendance. Best of all though was a Kingfisher which shot across the waters surface, an uncommon sight here outside of winter.
Of course we shouldn't forget that these natural occurrences cause untold damage to those whose homes and businesses border such tidal areas. Penclawdd itself is particularly vulnerable and I have mentioned recently that work is currently under way to build a new seawall there. Even so that didn't stop the building site from being completely inundated with water, a hazard of working in these environments I guess.
- 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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- ▼ December (9)
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- Autumn on the River Ogmore
- An Introduction to Harvestmen by SEWBReC
- Fungi and Curlew Sandpiper at WWT Llanelli
- Friday Sunset
- Worm's Head
- Seasons Collide at WWT Llanelli
- Beech Birding Bonanza
- Isle of Mull 2014 - Cruachan Treshnish and Glac Gu...
- Isle of Mull 2014 – ‘S Airde Beinn, Crater Loch
- Isle of Mull 2014 – MacCulloch’s Fossil Tree, Burg...
- Isle of Mull 2014 – Potting the Reds
- Isle of Mull 2014 – Trig Bagging at Quinish
- Isle of Mull 2014 – Deer Stalking and Dun Aisgain
- Blazing Sunset over Llanelli
- Isle of Mull 2014 – Otters but no Manxies
- Isle of Mull 2014 - Climbing Ben More
- Isle of Mull 2014 - Marooned
- Isle of Mull 2014 – Langamull: Eagles, Eagles Ever...
- Isle of Mull 2014 – Sodden in Balamory
- Isle of Mull 2014 - Eagle Valley
- Isle of Mull 2014 - Otter Potter to Treshnish
- Isle of Mull 2014 – A Golden Arrival
- Late Summer Sunsets
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