A Weekend Of Welsh Weather

Saturday, October 25, 2008 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

This weekend it wasn't only the Lake District that was taking a battering. Thursday night was absolutely horrendous, with horizontal rain and very high winds. Friday brightened up but Saturday was very grey and very windy.

We decided to head down to Mewslade Bay in the morning as it was an area of the coast we hadn't yet been to. The car park is basically a farmers field with an honesty box to pay. Being the good citizens that we are we dropped a pound in. Things got off to a good start with an adult male Peregrine Falcon drifting over the car park close enough to see its face mask with the naked eye.

The valley leading down to Mewslade Bay is a lovely walk through part wooded and part open ground. Ring Ouzel have been spotted here in the past but if there were any around when we were there the wind was certainly keeping them close to the ground. Down at the cliffs however we did see two Choughs that were very obliging and sat nearby in clear view for a few moments. These birds are so rare in this area that it is always a privilege. On the walk back we also had excellent view of a Kestral hunting and a Buzzard being hounded by a couple of crows.

Sunday turned out to be a pretty decent day weather wise with plenty of sun and blue sky. We headed over to the WWT site at Llanelli, one of my regular haunts. All in we saw about 40 species. Particular interests were a Knot in front of the Heron Wing hide, as well as several flocks of Long Tailed Tits interspersed with Goldcrest's. A notable absence was the usual flock of 300+ Black Tailed Godwits. I can only presume that they were off feeding elsewhere, possibly due to the large amounts of rainfall and as a result the higher water levels in the lagoons.

This weekend also saw the first ever sighting of a Little Blue Heron in the UK. The bird was first spotted on Friday evening in the Kidwelly area of Camarthenshire. Saturday saw upwards of 500 people from all over the UK turn up to try and spot it. Alas to no avail. I shall certainly be keeping my eye open next time I am in the area though that's for sure.


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RSPB Ynys Hir

Saturday, October 18, 2008 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

This weekend I took a visit up to the RSPB reserve at Ynys-Hir for the first time in at least 18 months. The reserve is located about 10 miles inland from Aberystwyth and incorporates a range of habitats including mature woodland, estuary and peat bogs. I have never visited before whilst seriously looking, so I did not know what to expect in terms of species present.

Things got off to a good start with a Great Spotted Woodpecker flying along in front of the car on the access road. From the car park itself I could see around 15 species, including the usual tits and finches, two Jays, a hundred or so Teal and a Nuthatch. I sensed this was going to be a good day.

Heading to the first hide overlooking the estuary it became apparent that it was high tide. A very happy coincidence as the birds were as a result much closer and more concentrated. A twenty minute watch produced 20 or so Grey Plovers (a lifer for me), Dunlin, 30 Barnacle Geese, Redshank, 3 Pintail as well as both Merganser and Goosander. I can't remember visiting a hide before and seeing such a wide variety. The only thing missing was the Great White Egret that had been seen the day before.

Elsewhere on the reserve we came across a Mistle Thrush (a bird I very rarely see) as well as a juvenile Goldeneye (I had only previously seen this on the Isle of Mull) and several Common Snipe. Living down in South Wales it was also a nice treat to see 3 Red Kites soaring over the hillsides. I can remember the days when the Kite was so rare that I had never seen one. Now they are almost a daily occurrence and their range is ever expanding. I have seen two around Swansea in recent months and I only hope that their success continues.

Sunday was a wash out, but I hope this week to get out and try and locate one of the Yellow Browed Warblers that have been spotted in the area. Here's hoping.


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Red Necked Phalarope

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

After finishing work last night I decided to head over to Ogmore as there had been reports over the last couple of days of a Red Necked Phalarope feeding in the flooded fields bordering the river. I arrived at the last known sighting location opposite Ogmore Castle, but due to the high tide could not cross into the field where the bird supposedly was. This led to a somewhat restricted view due to the various lumps and bumps in the field. Fortunately another birder arrived and rang for further details. We were instructed to go further up the road where there was a small bridge that would enable access to the other side of the river. At this location there was already another birder who motioned for us to join him.

Further into the field the RNP was clearly visible, feeding and swimming in one of the larger flooded pools. We were able to watch the bird for at least 10 minutes before the arrival of a dog walker (and a very ignorant one at that), neccessitated a move slightly closer. Shortly after this move the RNP flew directly towards us, veering to the right just on front of our scopes. It landed barely 3-4 foot away from where we were standing, and proceeded to spend the next 40 minutes or so until dusk feeding around us on all sides. Bearing in mind that this is an extremely rare bird and a new life tick for me, I simply couldn't believe it. It has to rank as one of my most memorable experiences out in the field. I would also like to thank those birders who helped me with the location. I am much obliged.


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A Weekend Of Firsts

Sunday, October 12, 2008 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

Due to the glorious weather this weekend I succeeded in getting out and covering most of the Burry Inlet as well as parts of the Gower, Ogmore estuary and Kenfig NNR.

Saturday was spent navigating the Burry Inlet as well as taking in Port Eynon. In all we saw 52 species. The highlights included Treecreeper, Whimbrel and a Sandwich Tern at Kidwelly Quay, along with Goldcrest and a Grey Wagtail at the nearby sewage works. Port Eynon was equally productive producing the first sightings of Turnstone's this winter (19 in total) as well as a group of 5 juvenile Ringed Plovers. On the drive back we were fortunate to see a flock of 6 Brent Geese at Wernfrwdd. This is a lifetime first for me. Definitely an area to check out at high tide in the future.

On Sunday we headed over to Ogmore-on-Sea. It is an absolutely beautiful area providing an excellent walk up the estuary and along the river. I would definitely recommend a visit if you ever get the chance. An added bonus here was a Whooper Swan which has been on the river for about a week or so with a group of Mute Swans. This is my first official Whooper in Wales and we got some excellent views. From Ogmore we moved onto Kenfig. The original intention had been to look for the Black Necked Grebe which had been seen on the Saturday, but this had unfortunately departed. After a tip off though we headed down to Sker beach to look for a recently arrived flock of Golden Plovers. Due to the number of surfers on the beach though there were no birds present. Fortunately on the way back to the car a flock of about 300 came swooping in and spent a good five minutes flocking through the sky before finally settling out of view further along the coast. Another lifetime first for me and an excellent way to round off a tiring but very rewarding weekend.


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