[Insert generic comment about time flies here]. Right, now that’s out of the way it’s fair to say that July has been a pretty quiet month on the patch all being told. No new species, some good breeding records and still as enjoyable a place to walk as ever. I made a couple of outings last week in the hope that there might have been some early autumn movement (I’m thinking particularly of Golden Plovers) but that turned out to be wishful thinking. Even the Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers seem to have lost their voices and the most we hear at the moment is the occasional chirp from deep within thick vegetation. Goldfinches on the other hand have built up some significant numbers with a flock of at least thirty birds skirting Bryn-bach-Common on Wednesday evening. Keeping them company were at least six Swallows reminding us that, despite the weather, this is still summer.
I was back out again on Thursday after work and this time took a more energetic route up to the top of Cefn Drum. My main goal was to try and see if the Keeled Skimmers we found a couple of years back were still about, but I fear that the constant disturbance by illegal off-road bikers has rendered many of the pools pretty sterile. What was there though were hoards of those Goldfinches again, this time feasting on Thistles (above). Nearby a family of Whitethroats including at least three juveniles were very nice to see as were two pairs of Stonechats also with young fledglings. Best of all though was the young Great Spotted Woodpecker which allowed excellent views whilst it fed on the branches of various large Gorse bushes. This is my third sighting of the species this year which on first impression may seem quite low but for here represents a significant increase over previous years. The idiosyncrasies of patch birding in a nutshell.
Down in the valley I could hear at least one Buzzard calling incessantly but never managed to see the bird itself. My guess is that it was a youngster from the nest which I’m pretty sure is located somewhere in the same vicinity. At the summit there were a couple of singing Skylarks but most were keeping their heads down only to erupt from the Bracken as I passed.
I’ve probably saved the best for last though and that was the view as I made my way back down for home. A large cloud had shrouded Cefn Drum in shade whilst the Loughor estuary and Gower beyond were bathed in sunshine. Pretty spectacular.
2015: 68 / 2014: 64