The forecast this morning didn’t look too promising so it was up to an old stalwart to step in and provide a destination. Those of you who read this blog religiously (doesn’t everyone?) will probably have guessed that I am referring to Bracelet Bay and Mumbles Head, two locations that always seem to deliver no matter what mother nature throws at us. As it turned out today was to be no different with a quick scan of the ocean picking up two large ducks amongst a flock of Herring Gulls. I had to seek shelter from the strong wind before I had a steady enough view to see that they were in fact Eiders. This is the first time that I’ve ever seen the species in Bracelet Bay and at just a few meters off shore it would have been rude not to point the camera in their direction. Judging from the number of times they dived and the raucous nature of the surrounding Gulls, I gather that a school of fish were probably just beneath the surface.
The nearby rocks held a couple of Mediterranean Gulls and a single Oystercatcher, neither of which looked willing to take an approach. Instead I checked the tides and headed across to the outer island at Mumbles Head to see if the blustery conditions had grounded anything of interest. They hadn’t but a pair of Ravens put on an extraordinary vocal display as I followed the path to the lighthouse. Never before have I had one of these large birds willingly sit at such close quarters and it was a privilege to behold. I can only presume that they have a nest nearby especially as one of them was seen carrying food down the cliffs. Needless to say I gave them as wide a birth as possible which wasn’t that easy on such a tiny island.
Once I’d finally given the Ravens the slip it was into one of the old world war two gun emplacements to shelter from the ever strengthening wind. From there I had a commanding view over Swansea Bay and the Bristol Channel which would have been ideal if some of the Skuas that have been popping up along the coast this weekend had deigned to pass Mumbles. It wasn’t to be though I did take great pleasure in watching an Arctic Tern fishing just off shore.
With any cobwebs suitably blown away I retreated back down to the causeway where four Turnstones were doing their best to feed. It was one of the Herring Gulls that really grabbed the eye though, most likely due to the huge orange ring on its left leg. I’ve had real difficulty reading the lettering on it but my best guess so far is X88. I shall try and find out more information on the birds origins next week.
Over at the pier it was hard to miss the noise that signals the Kittiwakes are back in the house. My rough count puts the colony at over one hundred and fifty birds and it’s great to see that the temporary shelving put up while the pier is being restored is now in full use. Rather worryingly though there seems to be little evidence of nest building so far.
From there it was back home for another bash of the local patch which turned out to be equally productive…..