My plan for Sunday was to have a full on, dawn to dusk patch bashing extravaganza in which records would fall leaving my competitors quaking in their boots. The previous night I’d dreamt of six pointers, a premonition perhaps of the Glossy Ibis seen a few hours later though alas sadly twenty miles or so outside my recording area. If you’ve read the account of that sighting then you’ll already know that the day was beset with difficult weather ranging from light rain through heavy downpours with a dash of hail thrown in for good measure. Such a regular occurrence now that it’s almost not worth mentioning. Nevertheless I had to at least try and during a short break in proceedings mid-morning made it out onto Gopa Hill. Things had already got off to a good start with our freshly filled garden feeders attracting the usual suspects including flocks of both Long-tailed Tits and Goldfinches plus the long staying Starlings. Out the back a Green Woodpecker was yaffling away and it was nice to see a Wren hopping through the apple tree, not a regular garden visitor by any stretch of the imagination. On Gopa Hill proper a high pitched call soon had its owner located (Goldcrest) before a pair of Carrion Crows crossed overhead. All this time the sky had been steadily darkening and I just about made it to the old ruin as the heavens opened. Sheltering beneath a skeletal Beech things looked grim, right up until a passing raptor had me dashing back into the open. Angled wings, face mask, Peregrine Falcon. Not only a true patch rarity but also my second ever sighting here, a great start to this years challenge.

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With the surrounding landscape steadily being absorbed into the murk I headed for home with still much of my Cefn Drum patch left unexplored. That didn’t stop me picking up a few extra species from the comfort of my own sofa though including one of the local Red Kites, a Lesser Black-backed Gull and Woodpigeons. They all count you know.

A few hours later and despite there being virtually no light left i just had to give my new patch a go. First stop was Coed Bach Park where, as expected, I quickly drew level with the commoner species seen earlier in the day with a few nice additions including Nuthatch and Jay. What I hadn’t expected to find was such a good selection of Thrushes out on the show field totalling eight Redwing, six Mistle Thrush and a pair of Song Thrush. Not bad at all. Probably the same Red Kite from earlier in the day came through just above the trees soon after before it was on to an area of the Upper Loughor I’ll be calling Church Marsh. This linkshould explain why. On reflection a marsh may not have been the best choice of walks with mud several inches thick covering much of the path. Thankfully I was glancing skywards just at the right moment to spot, unbelievably, another Peregrine Falcon flying overhead. In reality this was probably the same bird as earlier though now further down the valley, a first for me at this site and presumably straying out of its normal territory in search of food. I’d love to know if it’s one of the birds which hunt from my office.

Being so close to dusk there were a series of large gull flocks heading downstream, the majority Herring with a few Black Headed Gulls at lower altitudes. Other birds on the move included one Cormorant coming in to land and a very distant Shelduck high over town. As for waders that particular joy will have to wait as by the time we’d made it to Castell ddu Farm the rain was back and it was almost dark. Definitely enough to have whetted my appetite though and confirmed that my choice to cover both these patches this year was a good one.

Cefn Drum – 2015: 69 / 2016: 23

Upper Loughor 2015: 0 / 2016: 30


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