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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Vulcan XH558 Farewell Tour

Monday, October 19, 2015 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


I'm back! And although rumours of my untimely demise have been much exaggerated, it is fair to say that the last six to eight weeks have been less than enjoyable. What had begun as a normal evening rapidly deteriorated when water started running down the wall of my home office (alarming) and which ultimately resulted in us replacing the entire heating system. Who knew that a perished washer could end up causing so much havoc. To be fair our contractors have been fantastic but the inevitable repairs, decorating and general tidying have eaten up much of my autumn to date and prevented me (both physically and figuratively) from posting much up on this blog. In reality that's no great loss as we've not had a whole heap to share anyway but one event, just over a week ago now, prompted paintbrushes and hammers to be cast aside. If you've been following my ramblings this year then the words "farewell tour" may give a hint that it was time for us to say our final farewell to the legend that is Vulcan XH558. Having watched her display at both Swansea and Fairford already this year we couldn't pass on joining in on the Welsh leg of her countrywide tour, sentiments shared it seems by thousands of people if the number lined up along the Barry coastline were anything to go by. With twitter feeds on a constant refresh we all tracked her journey first to Bristol and then along the Severn estuary until that distinctive trail of exhaust appeared directly above Flat Holm island.

P1150938 - Vulcan XH558 over Barry

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