Catch-up time here on My Life Outside I’m afraid after other projects kept me well and truly occupied last week. It’s surprising just how time consuming building a giant model of the Millennium Falcon can actually be! But I digress. Let us instead travel back to Saturday before last where a spell of dry weather meant that I could finally give my Cefn Drum patch its first proper going over of 2016. As on my previous aborted outingit was our garden feeders which showed the greatest promise early on with all the regulars present including new for year Greenfinch, Pied Wagtail and Nuthatch. All three were only seen briefly yet cover probably the trickiest trio of species to see locally, especially Nuthatch which, although seemingly getting more common, is still a tick which I fear slipping through my fingers each year. Up on Gopa Hill Starling numbers were looking particularly healthy with a flock of at least fifteen exploring nearby farmland, a small section of which are sure to be our regular garden birds. No sign of the Goldcrest though, replaced instead with larger species such as Jay, Raven and Red Kite, all new year ticks once again.

P1000189 - Kestrel, Bryn-bach-Common

Up on Bryn-bach-Common I was particularly pleased to find a distant Kestrel hunting from various fence posts, an exercise which was proving very successful indeed with at least two small mammals caught whilst I watched. Again this is a species which is not always easy to see here so it was good to get one in the bag so early on. Looking further afield the barren grasslands which typify this area during winter more than lived up to their name but I did manage to eke out a solitary flyover Meadow Pipit and pair of Stonechats.

Dropping down into the valley delivered a pair of Buzzards but, other than almost ubiquitous Robins and Wrens, the overcast conditions delivered literally nothing of note. With prospects up on Cefn Drum likely to be similarly hard work I opted instead to head off along the Northern spur in search of fame and fortune. I found neither. Instead the first sun in what seems like weeks found me and I had a properly enjoyable walk along the old tramway with nothing but my thoughts and the sound of gunshots for company. Sadly the latter signalled the end for my next year tick, Pheasant, though the six Mistle Thrush that flew over were hopefully out of range.

P1000196 - Cwmdulais
P1000191 - Cwmdulais

With views improving all the time I couldn’t resist a couple of landscape shots as a break from the dreary images which have adorned this blog of late, in the process disturbing a superb Woodcock which shot off across the valley giving great views. As with Snipe who have a similar knack for erupting out of the grass I’m not sure who was left most startled, the bird or me. Either way that signalled the end of new sightings for the day with no sign of any Dippers along the river (probably a bit too early in the year) and not much going on in the woods either. A good haul nevertheless and remarkably my final outing for this challenge in January. Quite where the last few weeks have gone is anyone’s guess but I’m going to have to up my efforts considerably this month as my scores for the Upper Loughor patch below show all too clearly.

Cefn Drum – 2015: 69 / 2016: 36

Upper Loughor 2015: 0 / 2016: 30


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