It’s been a pretty quiet weekend for me with atrocious weather and work commitments limiting any outings. I did manage to squeeze in a couple of forays out to my local patch however on Friday and Saturday, both times during late evening. The Friday trip was quite productive with some lovely light giving superb views from Gopa Hill across the Loughor Estuary and over the surrounding hills.
The air was quite damp and after a relatively warm day the temperature was dropping off rapidly. As a result the ground was visibly steaming in places, producing pockets of mist that hung in the valleys until they were finally pushed out by the strengthening wind. When combined with the setting sun the climatic conditions produced one of the best sunsets that I have seen from this location.
As on previous nights I was surprised to see the Swallows out hunting right up until it was almost dark, but they were clearly still finding things to eat. The Whitethroat nest that I had located a few weeks previously looked as if it had successfully fledged a couple of chicks who were noisily calling to each other from atop the Bracken. Stonechat fledglings were also visible on Bryn-bach-Common.
By Saturday the Whitethroats were nowhere to be seen which is a shame as I had hoped that they would stick around for a while longer. The Stonechats on the other hand were being much more showy with at least four individuals (presumably a family group) mixing it up with the ever territorial Meadow Pipits. The Yellowhammer pair were also in fine voice with the male singing from one of its favourite perches.
Back in the garden the feeders have been restocked after our supplies were completely depleted. Trust me when I say it’s a bit of a shock when you have to buy the various seed varieties, nuts and fat-balls all at once. I am sure that bird food is getting more expensive! A brief stint sat in the garden afterwards had the following Blue Tit and Robin at close quarters. It’s hard to believe how sunny it is in these photographs considering the weather that rolled in a few hours later.
Throughout the first part of the year we have been keeping a casual count of which bird species have been visiting the garden and in what numbers. As we are now rushing head first into summer it seemed like an appropriate time to wipe the slate clean and to start the process over, hopefully enabling us to see any seasonal variations. For instance I can already state that one of our most numerous winter visitors, the Starling, is now completely absent. Our entire list for the past four months or so is as follows: Blue Tit (8), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (2), Chaffinch (7), Greenfinch (2), House Sparrow (5), Dunnock (2), Robin (2), Starling (70+), Collared Dove (2), Long Tailed Tit (2), Goldfinch (10), Siskin (3), Bullfinch (2), Jackdaw (5), Song Thrush (1), Blackbird (2), Red Kite (3), Buzzard (4), Raven (2), Wood Pigeon (1), Carrion Crow (1), Lesser Black Backed Gull (1), Sparrowhawk (1), Black Headed Gull (1), Herring Gull (3), Magpie (2), Grey Heron (1). Now although those counts seem pretty accurate, with species such as the House Sparrow it is very hard to judge if we are getting the same birds at all times or if there are many different groups that pass through the garden throughout the day. Steve Wait has written an interesting post here after ringing the birds in his garden and finding out that there are often many more individuals than we may at first think. It’s well worth a read.