Now that the dark days of winter are behind us it’s so nice to be able to get home from work and put in a four mile plus walk before the light has completely gone from the sky. Yesterday was even better as with the sun shining it meant that the birds were far more likely to still be out instead of having settled down to roost. This was perfectly illustrated by a male Yellowhammer appearing in the garden before I had even had chance to leave the house, an event that resulted in a quick shoeless sprint out onto the patio. Unfortunately my ninja skills failed me and a combination of the door closing behind me and a less than stealthy approach spooked the gathered birds, including the Yellowhammer, into flight. To be honest I was very surprised to see him there at all as I was fully expecting his visits to stop once the cold months had passed. As it is it looks like we will be enjoying his company for some time to come. I waited for a few minutes on the off chance that he would return but in the end had to make do with one of our very attractive male Chaffinches instead.
With my appetite suitably whetted I headed out to Bryn-Bach-Common to see what was about. The walk up was filled with calling Robins, Tits and Blackbirds but it was the two singing Chiffchaffs that really caught my attention, my first of the year. Despite their volume they were still somewhat distant and I couldn’t locate them, something that was definitely not a problem for the next call my ears picked up on. Yellowhammer’s are typically known for the “little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheeeeeese” call (bet the title to this post makes more sense now), but it was their shorter contact call that alerted me to their presence. A quick hunt through the Rhododendrons and I soon had another stunning male in view.
A few metres along and yet another male was also calling in the presence of a further two individuals which I only glimpsed as they disappeared into the thicket. That makes at least four birds on the common along with the one from my garden and at least another couple of pairs that I know of down in the valley. Quite a nice little population considering it was a species that I hadn’t seen for years until moving here.
Elsewhere displaying Meadow Pipits were the predominant species with some great parachuting flight displays just a few foot away from where I was standing. A couple of overflying Pied Wagtails and another singing Chiffchaff were the best of the rest. I had hoped for my first hirundine of the year as well but was out of luck. It can only be a matter of time though with Sand Martins already having been spotted a few miles away.