The weekend before last was mostly given over to DIY (boo I hear you cry) but that didn’t stop me squeezing in a trip to Cosmeston late Sunday afternoon. Spring migrants were once more on my mind and judging from how busy the place was, most of Cardiff must have shared my urge to find their first Willow Warbler of the year. Before that though I spotted the Tufted Duck/Pochard cross (see what I did with the title there) just off the board walk and couldn’t resist taking a few shots. Despite its somewhat dodgy lineage it really is a rather nice bird up close and I’m sorry to say put the ‘standard’ Tufted Ducks in the shade.

P1000793 - Tufted Duck x Pochard
P1000801 - Tufted Duck x Pochard

All around I could hear the calls of singing Chiffchaffs and it wasn’t long before the sound I’d been after finally reached my ears. With its melodic notes fading off into nothingness I’d recognise a Willow Warblers song anywhere and quickly honed in on two individuals feeding between east and west lake. In near perfect conditions I could barely believe my luck and thus began the age old dance between wildlife photographer and moving target. Just as soon as I’d focussed the camera it would be off, only to perch the next time for a moment longer though, with a sinking sense of inevitability, almost always obscured by one branch or another. I’m sure I was providing ample entertainment to those passing by but just as I was about to give up managed to clinch the photo I was after. Only later when I reviewed it did I realise that somehow my Willow Warbler had slunk off and I’d ended up following a Chiffchaff instead! Not to worry as they’re almost as tricky to photograph in their own right.

P1000813 - Chiffchaff

Heading next to the large pasture I spotted a Red Kite overhead whilst the trees and bushes that bordered my route seemed to be dripping with birds. Whether it was Blue Tit, Robin, Chaffinch or Long-tailed Tit I was spoiled for choice, just what a typical spring walk should be like. Again Chiffchaffs seemed to be everywhere but I was focussed only on one species and eventually turned up another Willow Warbler. This time the bird was feeding mainly at eye level making my job a whole lot easier and after following it along the hedgerow for a while finally got the image I was after. What a result.

P1000821 - Willow Warbler
P1000819 - Willow Warbler

Also about was this partly leucistic Carrion Crow which really stood out against the blue sky.

P1000827 - Leucistic Crow

Suitably buoyed I then proceeded to get sightly lost by walking right out of the back of the park before regaining my bearings and ending up in Cogan Woods, my original target all along. Here it was more of the same with singing migrants everywhere plus the added bonus of a male Blackcap in full voice. Other vocalists included a noisy pair of Mistle Thrushes, several Goldcrest and a Nuthatch. Just above the canopy at least one Buzzard was soaring, calling all the time, and I finished off just where I’d started with that cross Tufted Duck.

1 Comment

Stewart M · April 18, 2016 at 10:21 am

Nice set of shots – I always remember it taking a few weeks in summer to get my warbler head back on! And just as I was sure I knew what I was doing they would stop singing and them leave! Good fun though!

Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

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