August Bank Holiday was put over almost entirely to the patch this year and would you believe it but, after a barren summer delivering exactly zero new species, we finally hit pay dirt. Given the lateness of its arrival I’ve yet to submit my new score but can happily report that for the fourth year in a row Grey Partridge are once again gracing the slopes of Cefn Drum. The significance of this small population should not be underestimated with it being the only known site for the species in the extended Gower area, to my knowledge at least, which makes this latest sighting even more exciting. For not only could we hear at least one adult calling from somewhere within the towering Bracken but also the calls of two young chicks. Although I failed to see either for myself Emma did spot one of the tiny youngsters running through thick cover which moves the Cefn Drum Grey Partridge population from resident to breeding. Something of a result I reckon.
The exact spot for this latest sighting is shown above and you can also hopefully make out some of the flowering Heather which is looking mighty fine at present (at least where Bracken hasn’t completely taken over). Whenever we see Heather talk inevitably turns towards its rarer white variant which made the discovery of a single such plant all the more remarkable. With further sightings on Mull and up near Leeds we’re becoming rather good at spotting such oddities.
Despite it being the start of Autumn there were still good numbers of hirundunes about with at least twenty House Martins over the wooded valley and a light smattering of Swallows along more open ground. Both Stonechat and Whitethroat families were still present from earlier in the month and it was good to see a few other resident species including Buzzard, Raven and even a trio of Reed Buntings up above Gelli-gwm Rock. Surprisingly Meadow Pipit and Skylark numbers were very low with only a couple of the latter sighted but there was still a singing Chiffchaff refusing to admit that its season is nearly done. Best of all though were the pair of Sparrowhawks which I presume are the same birds we’ve been seeing on and off all year. Both were perched up in a conifer before we passed resulting in superb flight views as they went on their way.
We walked as far as I dared given the need to maintain a mobile signal for work which ultimately brought us to the viewpoint above. Looking out towards Coynant this is rapidly becoming my favourite part of the patch and seems a million miles away from the nearby M4 and city of Swansea. If only the same could be said of the flood alleviation works currently taking up the heart of my recording area which somehow seems to have made little progress in the last couple of years. As best I can tell work has mostly involved moving the same pile of soil from one spot to another and back again with no end in sight. If someone can explain exactly what’s going on I’d love to hear from you.
Back down in the valley I had fingers crossed for a migrating Spotted Flycatcher or two but alas it was not to be. Instead we found a Common Hawker sunning itself in the undergrowth, my first of the year.
2015: 69 / 2014: 64