Another two weeks on patch and, despite only managing a couple of visits, my recent run of success has continued unabated. Before we get to that though a few updates including the fact that Emma saw no less than four Shelducks flying over the valley early one morning. Quite what that means for our suspected nesting pair I have no idea but I will certainly be endeavouring to find out. Something I did manage to see, and on several occasions no less, is the Grey Heron which from complete obscurity has arrived back on the scene in a big way to no doubt terrorise the neighbourhood ponds. Barely an evening has gone by that I haven’t seen it dropping down into the village, a sight only rivalled for sheer theatre by our resident Red Kite. Quite what has caused the latter to become such an urban dweller I don’t know but it can now be seen regularly hunting the back gardens along our street, often just a few metres off the deck. Now let me assure you that is one hell of an impressive sight and whilst standing out in the garden today it came past screeching, no doubt unimpressed at what it perceived as an intruder in its territory. Not your typical garden bird I’m sure you’ll agree.
As for new species I’m pleased to announce that House Martins have once again returned to our little corner of Wales with a pair circling Goppa Hill on the 13th. Sadly they didn’t stay overhead long enough for a photo so I turned my attention to the blossom instead which on such a sunny evening was looking absolutely delightful (above). In fact conditions were so nice that I stood for a little while simply soaking up the view across the valley and was evidently camouflaged to such an extent that two Sparrowhawks landed in a tree barely a few foot away. Surprised would be an understatement and I had a superb vantage point from which to hear them making an unfamiliar mewing sound before my cover was, alas, broken. As both birds headed out into open territory I was treated to more great views of what I presume is the same pair that we first started seeing here during the winter months.
Moving on to Bryn-bach-Common it was good to see the Swallows, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs all present and correct before I stumbled across a family of Stonechats. The adults were clearly agitated and, given that I didn’t want to cause any disturbance, I failed to get close to any of the three recently fledged youngsters. They were however a fantastic sight and I left more than happy with this distant effort.
Fast forward to Thursday night and after watching a pair of Swifts on Goppa Hill I again relocated the Stonechats. This time however it seemed as though there were possibly two separate groups in close proximity, each guarded by a male with this individual making excellent use of the pylons as a vantage point.
Again not wanting to cause any disturbance I moved away and stood still to see what would happen. As it turned out the parents were happy that I’d left and, with the youngsters free to roam, it didn’t take long for a couple of them to pop up on Gorse not far away. Their development over just a single week was clear to see and, if all goes well, it seems that the local Stonechat population will be assured for another year at least.
In fact the only thing missing from this past fortnight has been the one true sound of Spring, a Cuckoo. I’ve at least heard one here on each of the last five years so it is definitely my main target before this month is out. To find one though I need a less breezy evening than those which we’ve been treated to of late and, of course, a fair bit of luck. Given the way events have been unfolding to date however I’m plenty confident that we’ll come up trumps before too long.
2015: 66 / 2014: 64