There was a distinctly autumnal feeling on Sunday morning which owed as much to the light drizzle and grey sky as it did the lack of leaves on trees following a week of inclement conditions. I had hoped to get out into the hills but with the day’s forecast not promising much of an improvement we instead headed east to Ogmore-by-Sea. It’s been a while since we last walked the river there and in that time there’s been a noticeable change in channel shape to such an extent that we could no longer negotiate the first meander without having to detour onto higher ground.
The estuary roost was pretty quiet with a couple of Oystercatchers and Curlew being the only waders present although another group had earlier managed to pick out two Purple Sandpipers. If ever there was a bogey bird for me here then that has to be it as I’ve never seen one despite checking their regular haunts on numerous occasions. Thank goodness the Aberystwyth birds are more confiding otherwise I’d have been pulling my hair out by now!
A quick glance up the river revealed another relatively quiet scene with no sign of the hoped for Goldeneye despite it being almost November. Presumably the mild autumn has meant they’ve not felt the need to start their migration as of yet. There were though good numbers of Redshank, a couple more Curlew plus a superb Kingfisher which we watched hovering and calling above a small channel. Elsewhere a Sparrowhawk gave brief views as it dived across our path and two Little Egrets spent almost the entirety of our visit chasing each other off. Given the quantity of feeding habitat on offer you’d have thought they could have come to some sort of sensible agreement. As it was I doubt either got much of a meal.
If variety was found to be lacking quantity certainly was not with two huge flocks of Canada Geese marauding their way along the river. My conservative estimates put the combined collective at well over two hundred birds but with regular comings and goings the actual total could have been even higher. Now I know Canada Geese are not exactly favoured amongst some birders, there are those who even think they should be culled, but for me I find them a pleasing sight especially when they give such great flight views as today. After all they are one of the first species we’re introduced to as children so their impact in getting more people into the hobby should not be underestimated.
Up at the bridge a couple of Little Grebes and a family of Mute Swans were preceded by another sighting of the Kingfisher. Again it didn’t stick around for long but any Kingfisher sighting is in my opinion one to be treasured.
From the river we now struck off south and climbed the hill to Pant Norton where a Yellow-browed Warbler had been reported over the last couple of days. Its favoured area was easy to find given the excellent map published on our local sightings pages but after a good hour of searching we could find no sign. There were a few adrenalin inducing moments but each culprit turned out to be one of several Goldcrest which seemed particularly active on the day. Two (which looked to be a male and female) even seemed to be involved in some kind of display behaviour with the male spinning around the branch upon which they sat. I’ve never such activity before and it reminded me more of something you’d see in the tropics than the Welsh countryside. As ever Goldcrests remain particularly tricky to catch on camera so instead I resorted to these autumnal Stonechats.
There were plenty of other species passing through the surrounding shrubs with a large flock of Chaffinches being perhaps the most numerous. Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tits, Great Tits, Treecreeper, Goldfinches and of course yet more Goldcrest all made appearances before a flock of twenty thrushes turned out to be Redwings. I’ve been eagerly awaiting my first sighting of these autumn visitors and it couldn’t have come in a nicer location. Sheltered from the wind in a narrow valley littered with berry laden bushes, it wasn’t difficult to work out why they’d chosen to rock up here. Since then I’ve heard Redwings flying overhead on several nights so hopefully we’ll have a bumper year for the species. If so the big question then is will I get a decent photograph of one this winter? Going on past experience, probably not.