We were three for three heading into Sunday having delivered for my parents Kittiwakes, Mediterranean Gulls and Badgers in spectacular fashion. The only question now was, where did we go from here? Then it hit me and before I had chance to realise what my mouth was saying the words “we could look for the Little Owls at Kenfig” had slipped out and been widely applauded as a darn good idea. Too late to back out now which was unfortunate really as after eight years of searching I had never actually seen the aforementioned Owls and had filed them rather unceremoniously in my mythical bird pile along with Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers and Quail. Of course I’d seen other’s photos of these grumpy colonisers so knew in theory where to look but for some reason our paths had, up until now at least, refused to cross. It was with some degree of trepidation therefore that we approached the barns at Sker with my perfect record in jeopardy (the weekend one not my long line of Little Owl failures). A quick once over drew a blank, as more worryingly did my detailed study which involved spending a good couple of minutes looking at a shadow and trying to will it to move.
Then my mom piped up asking “isn’t that one there?”. As if. Still, I’ve always found it wise to humour one’s elders and dutifully raised my binoculars towards the area in question, a series of incredibly witty retorts swirling through my mind. Ah yes there’s the stone but, I don’t remember stones generally swivelling their heads to look at you, or indeed having heads at all! I couldn’t believe it she was bang on the money and after so many fruitless visits we finally had one of the Kenfig Little Owls in our sights. Could we get something on camera though? You bet we could.
What a way to round off the weekend and a stunning end to a day which had started on a far less promising note. Despite the forecast being for sun the morning at Kenfig at least had started dull, drizzly and a little on the chilly side. Almost autumnal some might say and with a lone Swift turning out to be what looks like our last of the year, rather apt. Kenfig pool itself was pretty quiet other than a couple of Great-crested Grebes and the resident Canada Geese and Mute Swans but the surrounding fields were full of roving Linnets, Goldfinches, Starlings and Pied Wagtails. More surprising was the sight of a lone Black-tailed Godwit along the water’s edge as well as a Dunlin a little further out. Feeding amongst the vegetation I had dreams of creating a nice arty composition but as the rain started to fall and light levels dropped even further, this was as good as I was going to get.
Taking shelter in what’s left of north hide we were surrounded by a calling flock of Long-tailed Tits just as we witnessed a funnel cloud forming in the distance. This was certainly a new one on me and the phenomenon lasted only a few seconds before the cloud retreated as if nothing untoward had happened.
Thankfully that heralded the end of the cloud which had seemingly been hanging over only us and in its place came warming sunshine and insects galore. Crossing the dunes we were virtually tripping over Common Blues, Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns with the occasional Damselfly and Six-Spot Burnet thrown in for good measure as well.
There wasn’t anything of note down on the beach but we did spot a scraggly juvenile Stonechat at Sker Farm followed by, as you’ve already read, that fantastic Little Owl encounter. A pretty successful weekend then, remembered for its wildlife most of all but also for the fact that my parents arrival hadn’t coincided with the water main bursting outside our house. Seriously, it’s happened twice now and as a result we have to give Welsh Water advance notice whenever they visit.