After the last few weeks of traveling it was time to spend some quality time on my local patch, the Cwm Dulais valley. Much like the rest of the UK we received some very welcome snow yesterday afternoon that, although not heavy, is still around today due to the freezing temperatures we are experiencing. Up on the the hills that enclose the valley the snow lies a couple of centimeters thick, creating some very picturesque views that shows what we can hopefully look forward to this winter (I like snow by the way in case you hadn’t gathered by now).
Unsurprisingly given the harsh conditions the birds were not exactly in abundance. A superb juvenile Red Kite hanging in the air above my head was a particular highlight, one which we bumped into again later on and were treated to a low fly past. A Buzzard was also on the wing staying motionless in the air as it made the most of the bitingly cold northerly winds, while a Raven put in a brief but noisy appearance. Speaking of Ravens, we came across numerous bird footprints in the snow that I believe belong to either a Crow or a Raven. The shape and size all match as does the gait. Particulalry telling though are the scratch marks that link the footprints together. Apparently Ravens and Crows drag their feet as they walk leading to these markings.
There was a good movement of Wood Pigeons down the valley numbering at least fifty, presumably on their way to less frozen ground down by the sea. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen on the edges of the woodland and I heard a Green Woodpecker somewhere off in the distance. Most of the small birds had retreated to the gardens of the few houses that dot the valley, with the exception of a couple of Meadow Pipits and a Robin that were hanging on almost at the top. I certainly don’t envy them. Top sighting of the day though goes to the Common Snipe that we accidentally flushed near Pale Bach. We heard another up near Twr Maggie (the cairn in the photo above) that reminded me so much of our trips to Mull.
Upon our return there was just enough time to pop over to Gower for what seems like the first time in ages. Our destination was Llanrhidian marsh where I was delighted to spot one of the returning female Hen Harriers moments before she dropped out of sight into the reeds. I definitely want to try and get some more footage of these graceful birds hunting this year so expect to see a few more updates on them as the winter progresses. There was also a flock of some three hundred plus Starlings that came in a constant stream from the direction of Rhossili up the Burry Inlet before vearing off towards Llanelli. I wonder where they are roosting?