Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Barn Owl

I checked on a Barn Owl site I found last year, being concerned about its fate during the recent severe weather. The owl roosts in a deep, narrow vertical cleft in a quarry face, but wasn't present. However, there were signs of recent activity, including fresh pellets and droppings.

While reassuring to know that this individual seems to be okay. it would be even better to confirm that it was part of a breeding pair.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Porthcawl and sker point

Myself and my younger daughter Kathryn had planned a trip down Sker point for the last couple of weeks but the weather was never right to go. It was great today to see that the weather was looking good first thing. So for the first stop we went to Salt Lake carpark to check the Gulls and on arriving we could see most of the Gulls were on the Beach and would need a closer look for any rung birds. So once on the beach I got my homemeal loaf out and started feeding the Gulls and almost in seconds I got two Med Gulls in a flock of about thirty gulls but most were Herring Gulls and Black Headed Gulls. This was the only gull with rings on in the flock. It was murder to follow, it kept disappearing before I could get a photo and at one point landed on the sea and I thought thats it then. Well after  a couple of mintues it turned up in the flock again and give me one more chance and luck would have it I got a photo and I could read the ring and it looks like 2X7N. I will send the record in and see what it says.

A quick stop at Victoria Avenve and I got my third Med Gull of the day, it was a first winter bird but it landed for a second and was gone.
At Sker House I checked the Barn for the resident Little Owl but sadly no sign. All I picked up on the way down was a flock of about 30 Linnet and a pair of stonechat. Once at the point we checked the tide line for birds and I picked two big bags of rubbish with my litter picker. Also on the little bit of beach we find four dead birds and they were a single Kittiwake, two Golden Plover and a  Fieldfare. After a coffee we looked over the rocks at Sker and we found 2 Redshank, 4 Ringed Plover, about two hundred and fifty Golden Plover, 4 Dunlin, 6 Knot, 6 Curlew, 5 Purple Sandpiper and half dozen of both turnstone and oystercatcher.  I also had a Rock Pipit displaying over the rocks.

 One of the four Golden Plover.
Along the coast road we found two more Golden Plover and a big pile of feathers of Golden Plover  and could have easy been another. Just goes to show in a small area we found all these birds and if we had walked to the rivermouth we would probably have had double figures.
On a happier note we found this caterpillar on the way back and looks like a drinker moth .

They seek him here, they seek him there.......

A race day up in Coventry, but with not needing to be there till 12:30 gave me a shot at catching up with the Lesser Pecker that has been seen quite regularly at RSPB Nagshead in the Forest of Dean, particularly as the forecast was for a dry morning.

As I neared Lydney, the rain started, which reminded me that I had forgotten to bring my wellies!!. Never mind, its muddy shoes for the rest of the day.. Arriving at Nagshead just after 6:30 I made my way to the lower part of the short trail, passing a singing Firecrest on the way. I'd been in the woods for about 10 minutes when, half hidden by a singing Nuthatch, the Lesser Pecker could be heard singing (honest, it is a song). The unfortunate part was I couldn't see anything as one of my contact lenses was giving me grief and causing my eye to stream. A quick check and clean of the lens and vison was fine, but the pecker had decided to shut up!Despite a lot of scanning and waiting, there was no further sight or sound of it before I left at 11.

The morning wasn't a complete write of as apart from the Firecrest a pair of Hawfinches were seen several times - OK, the views are usually not as good, but there is something more satisfying in finding you own birds away from feeding stations. A male Gos' flew over low twice, whilst a female Sprawk had a try at one of the many Grey Squirrels.

In reality the paths were not to bad, only a few short sections were particularly muddy, so shoes not all that muddy when I left. And the rain stopped about 7:30.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

"Round round get round, I get around, yeah"

First seen at Rhaslas on November 5th, today at Parc Bryn Bach, via Caerphilly Castle Moat and Aberdare Park. Nice bird and an indicator of canada geese movement along the Heads of the Valley area over the autumn/winter period. No white winged gulls present, just usual water species with few passerines noted.

Llwyn-onn 6th & 7th; Water pipit (spillway) and willow tit (opposite Garwnant entrance with Kevin). Group of 6 crossbills (distant) noted feeding on Larch at Garwnant on the 7th, possible breeding ?

My first couple of mornings out this year, nice to be back.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Needed to Escape

After everything on stop for the last couple of days and not being able to get the car out it was great to escape the valleys for a couple hours. So Phil, Martin and myself headed down to Cardiff Bay to look for the recently sighted Black Redstart at the Marina. I was amazed how much more snow there was down in Cardiff. At the Marina there was no sign of the Black Red but we had big numbers of Fieldfare flying over heading west and smaller numbers of  Redwing. On the bay there was very  small numbers of small gulls. On the shoreline there was three Redshank and a hand full of Grey Wagtail and a single Rock Pipit.

Next  stop was Cossie for Yellow legged Gull and Iceland Gull and after a lap of cossie we found the second winter Yellow Legged Gull and it was great to conpare it with a second winter Herring  Gull. The only downside was it was too far for a photo but our first year tick of the day. When we stood waiting for the gulls to come in I was checking the swans rings and all were CO with a number on a blue ring but I noticed one with a Green ring and WT9 so I thought is it worth putting  the record in. I took a shot of the swan and I thought I may as well and I was quietly surprised by the news. It was rung in the Wildlife Centre West Hatch near Taunton in Somerset and it was admitted on 18 September 2014. It had came from Penpole Creek, Fowey in Cornwall. It had swallowed a fishing hook and line and was a youngster from 2013 and after rehabilitation was released on 30 January 2015 on the river at Porchy in Somerset and from there flew the channel and turned up at Cosmeston in June. It was only recorded once more in November 2015 and once more in October 2016 and my record now. Just shows it's right under everyones nose and no one had reported it.

Back to birding, when we got back to the car Martin heard Crossbill and we looked up and had 4 birds moving east and seconds later flew back west. We had a quick chat with Steve Howcroft and he told us that the Glaucous Gull near Wentloog had been seen on the Wednesday and he also told us that there was a barn owl in the owl tree. We checked the tree and there sitting in the hole was a cracking Barn Owl and our second year tick. We checked the fields for Gulls but only finding very small numbers and still more winter thrushs and starlings. We then stopped at the sluice farm and had a walk along the salt marsh but all we saw was all the common stuff. We were hoping for Jack Snipe and Water Pipit but we got the tide wrong, the best we found was 2 Common Snipe, a couple of Meadow Pipits and a single Stonechat. On the walk back we found a single Fieldfare and we could see that it was a casualty from the cold snap, it could fly and may recover in time if not found by the local foxes.

On the way home we had a quick check of Lamby lake but we found it very quiet and had very low numbers of Gulls again. Out of desperation we called back at Cossie for take two but still no joy with the Iceland Gull. We did have another Yellow Legged Gull and this time an adult.

Back in Aberdare there was still some Redwing about and they seemed to be find food a lot easier now .
After trying for weeks to get a photo of this Blackbird at the top of my street it was nice it finally played ball. Last of all I found another casualty of the weather, this Meadow Pipit on the path and so close to surviving the cold snap, always sad to see.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

More hard weather refugees

Further signs of birds being moved by the current snowy weather this moring. A walk up round Parc Taf Bargoed and CCF brought 2 more Woodcock (though 1 was probably the bird I photographed yesterday as it was less than 100m from were yesterdays bird had roosted). More of a surprise were 2 Snipe at PTB - my first at this site. The first came out of a flash in woodland, calling and showing the white trailing edge well. The second came up from the side of the upper lake, flew off high without a sound and did not appear to have a white trailing edge to the wing. I had seen it before it flew and it was def a Snipe, rather than Jack or Great and looked to richly coloured to be Wilson's.

6 Teal was a site record for me as was 8 Goosanders. One of the Muscovy Ducks looks to have gone - Fox (or a locals dog) victim or succumbed to the recent sub zero temps?

A big surprise was a fine male Brambling feeding at one of the properties that overlooks the settling beds - a year tick pulled back on Messrs Bevan and Hill.

Friday, 2 March 2018

New Birds for the Garden

Yesterday morning my daughter said the Starlings are back, they had not been in the garden for over a twelve month. I said great and within the hour I had had 7 starlings on my feeders. Well as the day went on I thought I was seeing things, it went up to 9 and by night fall there was just over thirty and I was pretty happy. At first light today thirty came in and then it was like a sight from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, they kept coming and were all over my bushes also next doors garden wall and shed, over head phone lines and there must have between 250 to 300 birds. They ate everything, had a bath and then flew off. I went back up with more food and water but only about 70 came back and as fast has I put food out it was gone. I also had a nice surprise when I had a single Redwing and two Fieldfare. In my front garden I had two Song Thrush in the flower beds.
Also I went to Tesco and when I was walking back with my daughters we found three Redwing and a Mistle Thrush feeding on ivy berries in a garden in the street below so I ran back for my camera. Also on the top of my street there were three Bullfinch feeding under a conifer right by the main road.