Video of the Sker Point Lapland Bunting

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

Judging by the reports coming in today, the Lapland Bunting is still feeding at Sker Point in pretty much exactly the same spot as when I photographed it at the weekend. During my visit I took the opportunity to record a few video clips of the birds feeding behaviour as I was finding it hard to capture through stills. The video shows it taking seeds off the various plants (does anyone know what they are?) before settling down for a bit of light preening. If the bird starts to look a bit nervous towards the end it is because a walker was about to walk between me and it (a gap of no more than one meter) and thus flush it further away. Enjoy.


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Whiskered Tern, Eglwys Nunydd

Monday, September 27, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

What is it about Eglwys Nunydd and rare birds at the moment? After the Grey Phalarope and the Bobolink earlier in the week I was back there once again yesterday morning looking for a juvenile Whiskered Tern that had been found the previous evening. Initially we couldn't spot it so decided on a walk around the whole reservoir which is surprisingly attractive and pleasant given the areas recent industrial heritage. The usual rafts of Tufted Duck, Pochard and Great Crested Grebe were out on the water while the woodland held a couple of Jays and a flock of twenty or so Long Tailed Tits. It wasn't until we were half way round that we got our first view of the Tern on the opposite side  of the reservoir (obviously). We pushed on and were eventually treated to a relatively close display of fishing behaviour which showed off the juveniles markings perfectly. I feel we were fortunate to get the views that we did as its flight was very wide ranging covering much of the reservoir. A cracking bird and my second species of marsh tern this autumn. Photography wise I only managed the poor shot below but it's still a lot better than the one of my previous Whiskered Tern at Kenfig taken over a year ago.

23500 - Whiskered Tern, Eglwys Nunydd

The afternoon was spent mostly at Kidwelly Quay over in Carmarthenshire. Although the tide was low the river banks held 3 Greenshank, 1 Bar Tailed Godwit, 2 Dunlin, 3 Curlew, 100+ Redshank and a Grey Wagtail. Although not a haul as exotic as some of the recent birds I have seen, in some ways these were more satisfying to me personally. Firstly they were all self found which is always an added bonus. Secondly the Bar Tailed Godwit is remarkably the first that I have seen this year as for some reason I just never seem to connect with them despite the success that others have. Thirdly Greenshank's are one of my favourite waders and one individual in particular at Kidwelly was an absolute stunner. It spent a long while just strutting up and down in the mud opposite us catching the sun perfectly as it probed the ground as it went. I can't deny that I like the excitement of a rarity but it will never overtake my joy for seeing the more common species. Hell, I just spent half an hour watching the Collared Dove in the back garden!


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Lapland Bunting, Kenfig and Turtle Dove, West Cross

Saturday, September 25, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

Last weekends good fortune shows no sign of abating as I had another corker of a days birding today. After a morning catching up on boring chores I headed over to Kenfig for a forced march out to Sker Point. I normally take things at a more leisurely pace but I was desperate to catch up with a bird that had given me the slip here less than a week ago. I knew I was in luck when I spotted a couple of photographers eyeing up an area about half a mile away. I approached carefully until one of them pointed to the ground just in front of me. There, feeding away quite happily, was the Lapland Bunting I had been hoping for. I crouched down and fired off a couple of record shots not really expecting to get anything better. What I hadn't accounted for was just how tame this particular bird was. Over the next ten minutes or so it crept ever closer until it was basically at my feet. I'll let the photos do the talking.

22483 - Lapland Bunting, Kenfig

22485 - Lapland Bunting, Kenfig

22457 - Lapland Bunting, Kenfig

23488 - Lapland Bunting, Kenfig

I would probably still be sitting there now if someone hadn't walked right through our little group and scared the Bunting off. Fortunately it returned to the same spot a few minutes later but I had my excuse to move on.

Before heading back to the car I had another fruitless search for Yellow Wagtails around Sker farm. Although I drew a blank I did spot my first Merlin of the year. It very nearly took my head off as it swooped up and over the wall that I was stood against chasing a large flock of Goldfinches. The sound of the wind through it's wings was most impressive.

Thinking that things couldn't get much better I nipped over to Blackpill to follow up on another lead. At the back of the West Cross Inn it payed off as I get my second lifer of the day in the shape of a Turtle Dove!

23493 - Turtle Dove, West Cross

23492 - Turtle Dove, West Cross

23499 - Turtle Dove, West Cross

Once again the bird was incredibly tame and seemed unconcerned by the cycle route traffic passing by a few meters away. It was another top tick and my thanks must go to Jeremy Inglis who originally located it and got the word out.


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Grey Phalarope at Eglwys Nunydd

Friday, September 24, 2010 Adam Tilt 2 Comments

As I mentioned in my Bobolink post on Monday, I had only discovered the existence of Eglwys Nunydd reservoir the day before due to the presence of a relatively long staying Grey Phalarope. I had seen it reported on the local birding pages for at least a week but kept assuming that it was near Cardiff. An idle google search quickly alerted me to my error and I was over there in a flash. Would it still be there though? Well yes it was otherwise this would have been a rather misleadingly titled entry.

22449 - Grey Phalarope, Eglwys Nunydd
22447 - Grey Phalarope, Eglwys Nunydd

As usual with Phalarope's this individual had no fear of humans at all. And when I say at all I cannot stress how totally unconcerned it was with my presence. I spent most of my time sitting on the concrete apron of the reservoir within a couple of feet of the bird as it busily fed out on the water. I actually made two visits as the first was in the early morning and the light conditions were just terrible for photography. During this first visit the bird was very mobile as it explored most of one side of the reservoir. The second visit was later in the day but still proved to be extremely dull. To top things off the water was particularly choppy which didn't help. The video below should give a good impression of the conditions. It is worth pointing out that the footage isn't sped up and the camera is steady at all times. You will see why I mention those two points when you watch it.

During the afternoon we popped into Kenfig NNR for a walk out to Sker Point to look at the high tide roost. There were plenty of waders about including 38 Golden Plover, 4 Knot, 6 Lapwing, 1 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone, numerous Curlew and this solitary Sanderling.

22451 - Sanderling, Kenfig NNR

Once again though I completely failed to find any of the Yellow Wagtails that are often reported in the fields here. Either I am looking in the wrong places each time or I am just very unlucky. Does anyone know where exactly they are?


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Bosherston Otter and St Govans Chough

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 Adam Tilt 4 Comments

I was a man with a watertight plan on Saturday. I had the contact details for a lady in Milford Haven who for the last week had been treated to a Hoopoe feeding in her garden and who had also very kindly agreed to let me come and see it. The plan was to hang around Milford Haven until the bird put in an appearance at which point we would pop over to her house for a look. As you can probably gather from a quick scan of the pictures in this post the reality was very different. Despite waiting all day the Hoopoe didn't put in a single appearance, and hasn't since. All was not lost though as we saw several Little Egret, twenty or so Redshank and this very attractive Small Copper butterfly.

22434 - Small Copper. Milford Haven

During the waiting we also managed to squeeze in a quick visit to St Govan's chapel, a place that I have always wanted to visit ever since seeing a photograph of it on the BBC news website.

22439 - St Govans Chapel, Pembrokeshire

As you can see I now have my own photo to remember this unique location by. The chapel is completely hidden from view until you are at the edge of the cliffs above, at which point a steep flight of stairs weaves its way down the hill and through the building itself. I wasn't expecting the building to be in such great condition or so accessible but it was a very nice way to spend an hour. Back up at the top the familiar calls of Chough led my eyes skywards as one swooped down and landed not far away. A quick bit of stealthy maneuvering had me in camera range just as the sun went in. Typical.

22442 - Chough, Pembrokeshire
22436 - Chough, Pembrokeshire 22435 - Chough, Pembrokeshire

I always find Chough incredibly difficult to capture well as they are so black that the camera often struggles to get the colour balance spot on. A strong wind and lack of sun doesn't help either but these are my best shots of the species to date.

We finally gave up on the Hoopoe at four o'clock, disappointed but not disheartened. Despite not seeing the bird we'd had a great time exploring Milford Haven and its surrounds and have plenty of places that we want to go back and see again.

But that is not the end of this particular adventure. With sunset only a couple of hours away we headed over to Bosherston Lilly Ponds, another place that I have wanted to visit for some time. I had a vague recollection that Chris Packham had watched Otters from one of the stone bridges there and fancied my chances. Some would call me an optimist and most would be correct as after a forced march around to the far side of the lakes and an hour or so of waiting we had seen only a Kingfisher and a couple of Cormorants drying their wings. We started to head back when Emma spotted something in the water. Initially I couldn't see anything but moments later a head popped up before slipping back down. It was an Otter! We raced back to the bridge just in time to watch the Otter swim right underneath us and pop up on the other side. For the next five minutes all we could do was watch transfixed as it played in the water just feet away, often pausing to stare curiously at us before carrying on with its activities.

22443 Otter, Bosherston Lilly Ponds, Pembrokeshire

It was almost dark at this point so I switched from stills to video in an effort to capture the moment.

Without a doubt that is one of the single greatest wildlife encounters that I have ever had. To be in a valley, completely alone other than the birds and an Otter as the sun goes down is something that has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. It was simply magical.


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Bobolink at Eglwys Nunydd, Port Talbot, Glamorgan

Monday, September 20, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

I spent the couple of hours after work today stood watching a Bobolink play its best hide and seek game with thirty or so other people along the banks of Eglwys Nunydd near Port Talbot. I must stress that normally my evenings do not involve such strange activities but this time I was willing to make an exception. For a Bobolink. Which I am not afraid to admit I had to google to find out what one actually was after receiving a tweet from Rare Bird Alerts on my iPhone (modern technology really does have its advantages). As it turns out a Bobolink is an American (well that explains the rather strange name) member of the Blackbird family, and has only been recorded 29 times in the UK previously. Therefore to have one pop up literally down the road is quite remarkable.

During my visit the bird was being rather elusive spending most if its time in the long grass along the side of the reservoir next to the M4. Thanks to a couple of shall we say 'forward' individuals I got a couple of cracking flight views as it was flushed from the undergrowth before it disappeared once more. These brief displays showed off the yellowish underside perfectly but I couldn't really tick it as a lifer before I had seen enough features for a positive identification myself. Fortunately the Bobolink landed with its head visible just before I left giving me superb views and the all important characteristics that I wanted to see. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any photographs partly because it was so difficult to pin down but mainly because I didn't have my camera with me. You will have to make do with a poor camera phone shot of the crowd instead. The bird was somewhere in the grass to the right.

The strangest thing is that I didn't even know where Eglwys Nunydd was until yesterday. I woke up on Sunday and after a bit of research realised that there was a Grey Phalarope there that was begging to be seen. We duly headed over and got superb views down to a couple of feet and some good photographs to boot (look out for my post on this later in the week). To have a Bobolink turn up the very next day at the same location is amazing and frankly a bit unbelievable. Definitely a place I will be revisiting regularly.


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Cwm Dulais - back on patch

Saturday, September 18, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

I have spent the last couple of evenings getting back into birding on my local patch, something which I have very much neglected recently. My first outing was on Wednesday and got off to a good start with a Green Woodpecker sitting on the grass, followed shortly after by another flying across the bracken. The local Swallows were out feeding on the evening insects while the corvids were well represented by 7 Rooks, 20 Crows, numerous Jackdaws and a single Raven. The rest of the valley floor was pretty quiet apart from the occasional Meadow Pipit so I headed up the side to the top of Cefn Drum. On the way up I encountered 3 Stonechats and a Skylark before disturbing a Buzzard which had been sat in the undergrowth. Although I was initially disappointed that I had put it into the air it did treat me to a slow fly-past catching the light beautifully in the process. Once at the top I had a quick scan of the horizon before spotting a bird of prey in the distance. I was immediately struck by how blue-grey it was in colour and could just about make out darker patches on the ends of its wings. My initial thought was of a Merlin but the distance was too great unfortunately to rule out a Peregrine Falcon. Either way it represents a new species of raptor for the valley. As the sun started to set the view down the Burry Inlet was absolutely stunning.

22433 - Burry Inlet from Cefn Drum

I spent another hour or so in the valley on Thursday and once again encountered a couple of Green Woodpeckers, possibly the same pair as before. The main difference this time though was that one of the birds was actually in a tree! As we headed on my eye was caught by something shiny in the stream. It turned out to be just a white rock but stood a little further along was a Dipper engaged in some full on dipping and underwater feeding. Fantastic. Moments later my partner spotted a bird of prey coming in from the west. It turned out to be a Buzzard being closely followed by a Peregrine Falcon. Whether this makes the mystery raptor from Wednesday less likely to be a Merlin I am not sure. Is it possible that there could be so many different species in such a small area? I really hope that it is.


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Green Leaf Worm (Eulalia Viridis) at Sker Point

Friday, September 17, 2010 Adam Tilt 2 Comments

One of the other pieces of wildlife that I forgot to mention in my previous post were the Green Leaf Worms that we found at Sker Point. The vast majority of these were seen on the reefs of Honeycomb Worm structures, but only those that were in the shade and thus still relatively damp. I presume that they were trying to protect themselves from the baking sun.

22430 - Green Leaf Worm, Sker Point

The worms were surprisingly active and measured between five and fifteen centimeters in length. After a bit of research it turns out that these animals are quite a common occurrence around our coast but I have certainly never come across any before. One post of interest can be found on Jessica's Nature Blog which details the same worms but on Gower. Of particular interest to me was one of the comments that refers to someone seeing these worms at Sker Beach back in July. I guess that usually we just simply overlook them. Has anyone else come across these before?


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Whiteford Point Lighthouse and Sker Point

Thursday, September 16, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

Last weekend I was to be found walking along long sandy beaches before crossing huge dune systems, and no I hadn't left Wales! Saturday was spent at Whiteford Point on Gower, a walk that I absolutely love for its sheer tranquility and peace despite being one of the best beaches on the peninsular. This visit was to be different from usual however as I had a specific goal in mind that I have wanted to reach ever since moving here three years ago. At the end of Whiteford Point stands Whiteford lighthouse, a cast iron structure built in 1865 and the only wave swept tower of its size and structure in the whole of the UK. My goal was simply to touch it. Not a hard task you may be thinking but due to the nature of the tides in the area one that evades many people. Whiteford Point is very flat, meaning that the tide rises and falls rapidly resulting in a narrow window of opportunity to reach the lighthouse. This problem is further compounded by the presence of a deeper channel between the structure and the mainland which just when you think you may be in luck turns out to be full of water and impassable. This time however things were to be different. I knew we were approaching on a falling tide, and a very low one at that, and I knew that the weather was going to remain calm. Despite this I was still nervous as I completed the final approach, hoping that all would go to plan. And fortunately it did.

22420 - Whiteford Lighthouse, Gower

22415 - Whiteford Lighthouse, Gower

Up close the lighthouse is even more impressive than I had imagined. The structure has a grace that I was not expecting whilst some of the finer details are remarkable for a structure of this sort. Although much dilapidated it is still possible to see that the original canopy would have been most impressive. Unfortunately the ladder up to the top has long since been removed but I would love to get up there to see the view and to investigate the towers internals. It's hard to imagine that originally this place would have been home to a keeper for two weeks at a time.

On the walk out to Whiteford Point we saw a couple of Wheatears, 5 Ringed Plovers, 2,000+ Oystercatcher, 3 Dunlin and 20 Knot. A single Sanderling was a nice find feeding amongst the rapidly unveiling muscle beds, as were a couple of Grey Herons. At least 3 Great Crested Grebes were fishing in the water just offshore and we had several small groups of Whimbrel fly past. Also spotted offshore was a group of 12 Eider consisting of mostly juvenile birds. A more unusual sighting was of two Peregrine Falcons on the ground between the lighthouse and the mainland. One of the birds was definitely a male but I couldn't tell the sex of the other. I presume that one of these was the individual that I saw at Pembrey Harbour a couple of weeks ago given that it is just the other side of the estuary from Whiteford. A final bit of excitement was had on the return journey through the woodland that makes up part of Whiteford Burrows. I spotted a large raptor flying through the trees and my initial impression was of a predominantly grey bird. Immediately my thoughts turned to Goshawk but my more cautious side told me that it was much more likely to be something else. Unfortunately my sensible side won out as a few minutes later we located a pale Buzzard flying around the forest. All was not lost though as we did come across this superb Comma Butterfly in the process.

22427 - Comma Butterfly

Sunday was another beach day but this time further around the coast at Kenfig National Nature Reserve. The main lake was very quiet with the only notable sightings being a Chiffchaff, a Wheatear, several Mute Swans and a couple of Great Crested Grebes. It wasn't until I reached Sker Point that things started to look up.

Out at sea I picked up 4 Sandwich Terns while on the rocks themselves a single Turnstone put in an appearance. The tide was well out meaning that we couldn't find anything else so our attention turned to the nearby farmland. One field in particular proved fruitful as it held 6 Lapwing and 4 Golden Plover. The Plovers took a good while to identify as they were hunkered down low in the long grass. Just as we had finally decided upon a positive identification a flock of six more flew overhead calling. If they had done that twenty minutes earlier it could have saved a lot of time! It is also worth noting that on the beach I spotted some sizable reefs of Honeycomb Worms. These weren't on the scale of the ones seen at Ogmore previously but were impressive nonetheless.

22431 - Honeycomb Worm, Sker Point


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Black Tern, Common Tern and Sandwich Tern at Pembrey Harbour

Friday, September 10, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

Thursday evenings tide was even higher than the day before so I positioned myself at Pembrey Harbour near Burry Port. Watching the water rush in was very impressive as the more open nature of the location meant that waves had the chance to build up before breaking and washing over the lower breakwaters. Unfortunately it clouded over after taking the picture below which rather put an end to any photography hopes that I'd had.

22408 - Spring tide at Pembrey Harbour

The main objective though was to scan the sandbank opposite the harbour which as you know from previous posts is an ideal location to see birds at high tide. The usual flock of Oystercatchers was as large as ever (I should really count them accurately one of these days to see how many there are) as were the usual mix of gulls including several Common Gulls. Mixing it up with the Geoffrey's (for some reason that is what me and my partner call all Oystercatchers and yes we are slightly mad) was a flock of sixty Knot. As hard as I stared at them I couldn't make one turn into a Curlew Sandpiper despite the numbers which have been seen around the area recently. I have a feeling that they could turn out to be my bogey bird of the season - that or Little Stint. The only other waders present were a group of seven Ringed Plovers.

The main bulk of the birds present, and certainly the most vocal, were the Terns. I counted at least 47 Sandwich Terns and 23 Common Terns but more were arriving all the time so the numbers could easily have been double that. There was a good mix of adults and juveniles with every conceivable variation of plumage between. At times certain birds were fishing not far from my position which gave me superb views as they dropped out of the sky and into the water. If you have the camera equipment and want shots of Terns fishing then I highly recommend Pembrey.

On one of my last scans across the bank before heading home I spotted a very small Tern that looked about half the size of the Commons. Being a birder who always errs on the side of caution I initially put it down to an unusually young juvenile. It wasn't until I spotted it for a second time that I noticed the much darker wings and differing black markings on the head. A moment later the bird was in the air showing a relatively square tail and confirming my first ever self found Black Tern. I was able to watch it fly across the water before being lost to sight over Burry Port. A fabulous bird and a brilliant way to round off the evening.


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Penclawdd Starlings

Friday, September 10, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

While watching the spring tides on Wednesday evening, I noticed a flock of Starlings on the telegraph wires that run through Penclawdd. With a perfect blue sky and some interesting compositions it would have been wrong of me not to fire off a few shots.

22392 - Penclawdd Starlings

22393 - Penclawdd Starlings

22396 - Penclawdd Starlings


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Penclawdd Spring Tide - Highest tide of the year

Thursday, September 09, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

The last couple of days have seen the South Wales coast experience its highest tides of the year so far. Due to the calm weather there haven't been any instances of flooding but the views have been very impressive as the waters reach right up to the edges of our defenses. My destination of choice to watch from yesterday was Penclawdd on Gower. Not only is this an ideal location to watch the Burry Inlet fill up from, it also offers one of the best locations for photographing sunsets. Despite a few showers the skies cleared in time to put on a spectacular show.

22403 - Sunset at Penclawdd, Gower

As per usual several of the free roaming Ponies had decided to stand their ground against the oncoming waters. I was a bit concerned as they appeared to be panicking slightly but they soon settled down in their battle of wills against the sea. I have seen this spectacle on numerous occasions now and am always left wandering why they don't just walk to safety before it is too late? Surely they are intelligent enough to notice the pattern and realise what is going on by now.

22389 - Penclawdd Ponies

The rising waters pushed the local birds into ever smaller areas of dry land which meant that it was unusually easy to see just how abundant certain species are on the Burry Inlet. Apart from the hundreds of Gulls I spotted a flock of at least 150 Redshank which is the largest group that I have seen anywhere in the UK. Amongst them was a single Greenshank and a couple of Black Tailed Godwits.

With the sun sinking ever lower it was time to put the binoculars down and watch the sky for any interesting shapes and colours. At one point a very small section of Rainbow became visible which provided an interesting composition with some parked road maintenance vehicles. I accept that they aren't particularly natural but they were certainly catching the sun very well.

22391 - Partial Rainbow, Penclawdd

The last fifteen minutes or so of the incoming spring tide coincided perfectly with the final descent of the sun. The cloud cover was spot on and I got some brilliant shots. I will leave you with a couple of my favourites to enjoy.

22402 - Sunset at Penclawdd, Gower

22407 - Sunset at Penclawdd, Gower


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Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera) and Eristalis Hoverfly on Japanese Knotweed

Wednesday, September 08, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

You may have seen in the press recently rumours that Swansea has been targeted for an experiment to help find a natural means to combat the invasive species Japanese Knotweed. Although not confirmed this seems like an ideal location to start with as the county is slowly but surely being overrun with the stuff. The area to the back of my house is no different and is currently home to an impenetrable mass that reaches at least seven foot high.

22383 - Japanese Knotweed

Over the last week or so the Knotweed has come into flower. Not only has this made the plant almost attractive, but it has also proved an irresistible pull to the local communities of bees. Never one to pass up on an opportunity I thought I would attempt some macro photography as I currently have no bee pictures whatsoever. Once I had plucked up the courage to get close enough to the bees without the fear of being stung I was able to get some decent shots and quickly realised that there were several different species feeding away. Without any identification resource to hand I once again relied on the excellent folks over at the Wild About Britain forum to help me out.

The first species I captured was a Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera). With Honey Bees having a very bad time of it in terms of population crashes over the last decade it is great to see so many of them so close to home.

22380 - Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera)  on Japanese Knotweed

22378 - Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera) on Japanese Knotweed

The second species turned out not to be a bee at all but instead an Eristalis Hoverfly.

22381 - Eristalis Hoverfly on Japanese Knotweed

22382 - Eristalis Hoverfly on Japanese Knotweed

There were a couple of other species that I unfortunately didn't manage to photograph but it just goes to show the variety that can be found often right under our noses.


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WWT Llanelli Wigeon Return

Monday, September 06, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

The Wigeon are starting to return to WWT Llanelli. That is pretty much my only update from this weekend after the weather and work commitments put a block on most of my plans. I managed a flying visit to the British Steel Hide but as it was low tide the lagoons were relatively quiet. Apart from the Wigeon other notable species included a couple of Greenshank, a small flock of Lapwing and five overflying Black Tailed Godwits. I will leave you with a picture from last year that shows the scene that I can look forward to over the coming months. I love a good flock of Wigeon.



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Port Eynon Chough, Dolphins, Porpoises, birds and more

Wednesday, September 01, 2010 Adam Tilt 2 Comments

Port Eynon was my destination for Bank Holiday Monday with the objective being to see as much wildlife as possible while enjoying the simply stunning weather. The drive down to Gower took us first past Penclawdd where we stopped off for a quick scan of the estuary. Small flocks of House Martin and Swallow were busy skimming over the surface of the water, presumably preparing for their long journeys south. A single Black Tailed Godwit was a nice find as were eight Little Egret and five Redshank. These numbers were dwarfed though by a roost of six hundred or so Oystercatchers. Amongst the various gathered Gulls I was pleased to note four Common Gull and six Great Black Backed Gulls. A decent haul for an early start as well as a perfect blue sky.

22363 - Early morning at Penclawdd

As we continued we took the Llanrhidian marsh road to look for the Osprey that was present last week. There was no sign this time but I did get to use the car as a mobile hide in order to take the following photograph of a juvenile Swallow.

22365 - Swallow, Llanrhidian Marsh

Several groups of Linnet and Goldfinch were flitting through the bushes as we had a rather close encounter with one of the locals. I have no idea what he found so fascinating with my car but he couldn't stop licking it and seemed very unwilling to get out of the way. In the end I had to nudge him as we moved forward or else we would still be there now!

22367 - Gower horses on the Llanrhidian marsh road

Eventually we made it to Port Eynon and on a falling tide made our way out to the end of the exposed rocks that make up one of the areas nature reserves. A couple of Turnstones were feeding along the waters edge accompanied by sixteen Ringed Plovers. Unfortunately I didn't spot them in time and put them all up into the air as I took one step too close. Even more skittish was a gathering of eight Wheatear in the same area. This is by far the largest number that I have seen on Gower this year and given their proximity to the sea I presume they are another migration group in waiting.

22368 - Turnstone at Port Eynon

Next we climbed up to the top of Port Eynon point itself to do a bit of sea watching. I wasn't expecting much given the total lack of wind but a single Guillemot close in to the cliffs was a nice surprise, as were two Herons over the sea and a White Wagtail on the rocks. While scanning the small waves I thought I had spotted a fin and it wasn't long before my suspicions were proven correct. A very friendly man let us use his telescope as we watched six Common Dolphin and four Harbour Porpoise feed in the water about a mile offshore. Common Dolphins are apparently very rare around the Gower coast so this was a real treat. The fishing must have been excellent as a couple of Gannets were also getting in on the act.

Despite the temptation to watch the dolphins all day I needed some exercise so we started the walk around the coast path to Oxwich. The number of butterflies in the sand dunes was amazing with plenty of Speckled Wood, Green Veined White, Red Admiral, Peacock, Common Blue and the following Large White. I think the heat must have given them all extra energy as they were an absolute nightmare to try and photograph as they very rarely settled for long.

22369 - Large White butterfly at Port Eynon

The unmistakable call of a Stonechat nearby led me to a juvenile bird in the bracken. I cannot believe how scarce these have been after the harsh winter we had. This is only my second sighting on Gower since the weather warmed up compared to a year ago when they were one of the commonest birds around. I hope that this winter is milder to allow the population to stabilise again. A species that certainly doesn't seem to be suffering is the Chough as we bumped into a group of five birds sat on the cliffs just beneath the path. I think these might have been the same individuals that we saw a couple of months ago at Overton as the chances of there being a similarly sized group in the area must be slim.

22372 - Chough at Port Eynon

The highlights of the day (apart from the dolphins obviously) were to be found in a small woodland area through which the coastal path is currently diverted due to erosion. I spotted a plain looking warbler in a nearby bush and quickly realised that is was a Garden Warbler, my first of the year. Very close by we also saw a very yellow juvenile Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff that kindly gave us a bit of song. For a moment it seemed as though we had been transported back to the spring but as the calendar ticks over to September it is autumn instead that we find ourselves at the mercy of.


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