My parents were down to visit this weekend (and to provide those all important Christmas presents of course) which meant an opportunity for our first full day out in a very long time. Perhaps foolishly I’d assured them I could almost guarantee Otters at Bosherston against which my Dad could pit his new camera, which of course meant that they were a complete no show. Despite walking the length and breadth of each pond we failed to catch sight of so much as a ripple, but were we down heartened? Of course not. After all it was clearly my parents fault as we never have any difficulty in obtaining superb views on our own.
There was still however the small issue of subjects for my Dad to practise his photography against so I’m thankful for the impressive range of waterfowl species currently in residence. Top pick has to go to six Goldeneye (2 males and 4 females) on the most western pond with a flock of at least ten Goosanders coming in a close second. The latter even treated us to superb close-up flyover’s which he somehow managed to miss. What’s that analogy about leading a horse to water? Down at Stackpole court there were at least 3 Little Grebes, 4 Gadwall, 1 eclipse plumaged male Shoveller, numerous Mallards and singles of both Wigeon and Tufted Duck. In the nearby reeds we could clearly hear a couple of Water Rails calling but despite much searching couldn’t find the Bittern that was reported here back on Tuesday. Sadly poor light and distance meant that almost everything was out of reach for my camera with the exception of these fine Cormorants roosting in a fallen tree. Where low light levels normally suck the life from a photo here it has worked to my advantage in picking out the detail on what can easily be written off as dull, black birds.
In the same area we also managed to spot three Kingfishers as well as numerous Goldcrests, both species which appear to have been particularly prosperous this year. Redwings were present at the main car park and on the route of our improvised diversion down to Stackpole Quay along with a decent selection of late fungi including this Common Rustgill.
As always my fungi identification comes with a complete disclaimer that I am just a beginner in this complicated field, but I believe the smaller examples to be new growth whereas the brown specimen has past its best. The growing season for this species is listed as only until November but with such mild conditions of late I’m not surprised to see nature making the most of things. A slightly trickier ID task ended up pinning the next one down as Turkeytail, a species I’ve seen on numerous occasions previously but never with quite such an orange colour.
From Stackpole Quay our return route took us away from the sheltered valleys and out onto Stackpole Head where, let me assure you, conditions were more than a little blustery. Though walking upright was quite a challenge the local Fulmars seemed more than content to be on the wing against such a stormy landscape.
Fortunately Barafundle Bay, jewel in the crown of Pembrokeshire’s summer tourist industry, provided a brief respite and a rare chance to have this often visited location all to ourselves.
By the time we’d made it back to the car sunset was rapidly approaching and with it the first drops of rain from yet another Atlantic low. We most likely wont get a white Christmas this year but if wind and rain are your thing, consider this an early gift.