I think it’s fair to say that this weekend has been a bit of a washout given that I have been stuck in the house for most of the day looking out at a wall of fog. At least Saturday was relatively dry so I decided to head out and have a look around my local patch. It had obviously been a longer gap between visits than I had intended as the view from Gopa Hill revealed a completely new Tesco store that hadn’t been there previously. Mind you they do build them quickly these days! On the bird front a Jay was a good start, one of several seen along the Cwm Dulais valley including a pair having a disagreement with a Crow on the lower flanks of Cefn Drum. There numbers really seem to have boomed over the last eighteen months or so, not only on patch but elsewhere in the local area. Only today I saw a pair on the way into Llanelli and another is a regular near work.
The most obvious birds of the day though were the Meadow Pipits. A flock of eleven by the old ruined farmhouse and twenty or thirty more in the fields along Gopa Hill were just the tip of a considerable iceberg. Continued movements overhead must have taken their numbers well into the hundreds, presumably the result of autumnal migrations as I have never seen so many there before. As I entered Bryn-bach-Common a calling Yellowhammer from the Rhododendrons below was a very welcome sound, followed soon after by the call of a Pheasant. My attention was somewhat taken though by the large number of 4×4’s that were arriving and parking up along the sides of what is normally a very quiet single track road. As I walked through the dying bracken I could hear a couple of dogs barking, and then it finally clicked. Only I could inadvertently find myself in the middle of a hunt.
I retreated to a safe distance just in time as the horses and hounds came bounding up the road and across the common. Now I don’t think this is the place to discuss the merits of Fox hunting but it’s not something I will ever endorse or condone. Fortunately there were no Foxes involved during my time watching and I can’t deny that it was an impressive sight seeing so many horses and riders galloping across the grassland.
My time dawdling whilst the hunt departed was worthwhile as the fields to the west of the common held a huge flock of at least five hundred feeding Linnets. In amongst them were a couple of Mistle Thrushes as well as several Chaffinches, House Sparrows and Skylarks. A Red Kite over the same field and a Stonechat on Cefn Drum were best of the rest.
The afternoon was spent at Sandy Water Park in the hope of some Redwings, but as I suspected it’s a little too early for them yet. It shouldn’t be too long now though. The lake is still pretty quiet given the mild conditions but a small amount of bread soon got the residents into a frenzy.
In the midst of the whirling Black Headed Gulls I caught sight of at least two Mediterranean Gulls, one of which landed on the grass just long enough for me to get a picture.
At the far end of the lake another four Med’s were sat on the grass, one of which was ringed but just too far away for me to make out its number. An adult and juvenile Little Grebe in a brief shaft of sunlight finished the day off nicely.