Kestrels and Wheatears

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


When you've been crawling around on the floor for several days a decent walk was just what we needed and where better to go than Port Eynon. Now that the summer season is over parking is free (always a bonus) and you can pretty much guarantee that you'll have the place to yourself. The cold wind that greeted us early morning on the 4th helped no end in encouraging the latter and I'm not afraid to admit that my gloves made their first appearance since last winter. This makes me a big girl according to Emma but all I know is that things were much more pleasant from that point onwards. What the gloves couldn't do was burn off a lingering layer of mist which scuppered early attempts at any sea watching with only a close Shag reward for our efforts. Thankfully landward birding was a little more productive with a couple of Choughs, family groups of Stonehchat and best of all four or five Kestrel spread out along the coast path towards Oxwich. This is by far and away the greatest concentration of Kestrels I've seen in a single location and it was an absolute delight to have one bird hunting directly above us. The fact that it then dived for prey a couple of meters beyond was just a bonus but sadly whatever it had seen made a clean getaway.

P1150923 - Kestrel, Gower

What I was really hoping for were my first Redwing of the season but it seemed that our spring migrants were not quite ready to surrender their territory. First up was a Wheatear along the shoreline just out of Port Eynon, quickly followed by another in the fields below Slade. Next came a female Blackcap in thick vegetation on the diversion before yet another Wheatear gave us excellent, prolonged views atop a tree towards Oxwich Castle. Not typical habitat perhaps but a fitting send off for what was likely our last sighting of the species this year.

P1150930 - Wheatear, Gower

Elsewhere we were treated to a host of regulars including another couple of Chough, Oystercatchers, Buzzards and more unusually a washed up Grey Seal carcass, but special mention must go to the Green Woodpecker which was happy yaffling away at the top of a cliff, again near Slade. Though distant the views were some of the best we've had in recent times and only ended when a passing Raven spooked the bird into flight. Even better was that the weather was finally clearing allowing for some great views up the Gower coastline.

P1150922 - Towards Port Eynong, Gower

Best encounter of the day though goes to a Kingfisher which we stumbled across amongst the rock pools at Holy's Wash. Far from any fresh water the fishing must have been good to draw it out here and did offer the first glimpse of autumnal behaviour that we'd seen all day. We also saw what I'm now calling out as our last Swallow sighting of the year with a single bird flying over near home. No Redwings though but it can't be long now.

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