Tuesday, 31 December 2013

last fling for 2013

Managed to get out to do the BTO Winter Thrush survey, core count. Thrush numbers low, mainly Blackbirds with a solitary Redwing. Nelson Wren did produce at least 4, and possibly 7, Willow Tit and a pair of Sparrowhawks.
A quick visit to Edwardsville woods produced 1 male Brambling in the Chaffinch flock.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Devon in the sun

Great Grey Shrike

After a few days in south Scotland followed by twitching the Brunnich's Guillemot and White-billed Diver yesterday, it was back to more local fare today. An afternoon walk round Garwnant/Llwyn Onn area produced very little, but what was there was high quality. The Great Northern Diver was still gracing Llwyn Onn. From clearings along the Garwnant roads a male Hen Harrier and the Great Grey Shrike (at approx SO 011137) were scoped across the valley - the shrike being a Merthyr tick for myself, and confirms the long held view that it comes across the reservoir from RCT. I hope the Glam' rarities committee don't want a description, as it was the best part of a mile away. A small group of Crossbills were heard flying over but couldn't be located.

Saturday, 28 December 2013


I had a phone call this morning off Rob who said that if I didn't go to Brixham with him for the White-Billed Diver he would tell Deb to stop my next year's ration of chocolate. What could a man do but give in to bribery. Well I can't live on bread and water alone.
So not long after I was on my way to Devon in Rob's car ( other members of the blog can make comments here ).
Two and half hours later we pulled up in the harbour car park at Brixham in a rain shower.  We walked over the other birders on the harbour wall and were soon having cracking scope views of the White-Billed near the other side of the harbour.  It had also stopped raining so we walked over to the far side where we had even better views but I could not get a decent photo as the bird just kept diving. The dives were very long in time and distance you could not really predict where the bird was going to surface again.
Also in the harbour were 4 Black-Throated Divers, 1 Red-Throated Diver and a Great Northern Diver.
On the way home we called into Broadsands where we had our best views of Cirl Bunting ever. I think every birder from the Diver twitch had also called in to see the Cirls. We also found another Black-Throated Diver and another 2 Great Northern Divers, also 2 or 3 Chiffchaffs.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Dare Valley Country Park

This morning I went looking for Golden Plover and Crossbills up on top on Mynydd Cefn y Gyngon and had no luck . But on the way down I flushed a Short Eared Owl on top in the grass. IT flew a short distance and land in cover and thats where I left him. Great bird after a long walk.

Tissue tissue all fall down

I went caving today with the man with the singing wellies (aka Mark Evans), we visited a cave at Morlais Castle (fairly easy going you can walk in with a crouch) and found herald moths[13] and a first for both of us; Tissue[2], last recorded in Merthyr in the early 20th century. This cave ends in a vertical chimney exit via a squeeze which Evans and myself can no longer fit through (here's an opportunity for you Mr Gaze). We then journeyed to Ystradfellte, the millstone grit outcrop where Peregrine bred for years, alas no longer. Evans introduced me to a cavity formed by the collapse of the grit into the sink holes formed in the limestone below; it was 3ft wide and 1ft high, "...you have to reverse in" he said, "oh leave you bag outside, just in case, so people will know where we are". You should see the mess on my trousers! The GND was happily chewing crayfish when I passes at c14:30 ish. Martin, I'm working in the morning so wont be at Llwyn-onn until 10:00 ish, is that ok. Happy New Year everyone, be lucky or even better just jammy.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Lads,  Point Peele not long now and have a happy new year. PITTA IT WASNT SOONER. I think this cracker is Hooded Pitta.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Parrot Crossbill

Very poor record shot of one the Parrot Crossbills seen in Sherwood Forest on the way back from seeing the Ivory Gull at Patrington Haven.


Tir Founder Fields this morning 1 chiffchaff in hedge along the path to Aberaman, very Quiet 5 Teal and 12 Mallard . 2 Water rail calling.ABERDARE PARK  35 redwing and large flock Starling.

Llwyn-onn diver

Great northern diver just off south east bank at 10:00 hours this morning. The rest of the patch somewhere between the usual suspects and slim pickings.

Monday, 23 December 2013

yellow fungus

The First were taken up Coed Cae Aberaman and the third which looks like jelly is the fungus which grows on Gorse.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Florida holiday pic

A couple of shots of Wood stork , Great Egret , Snowy Egret , White Ibis . All photos taken in SeaWorld with more to follow shortly.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Saturday, 14 December 2013

one more shot of the seven beach cracker

This bird was my christmas present come early and to think the boys had to take me from work kicking and screaming and it was bloody dry as well. Thanks boys for a great afternoon and the chocolate was pretty good as well.

Desert Wheatear

Couple of record shots of the bottle, sorry meant the Desert Wheatear at Seven Beach today.

Monday, 9 December 2013


I found this fungus on the road to the gas tanks . It looks like white coral fungus. It was growing under spruce . The cones are Noble Fir.


Has the boys had headed north I was stuck with a problem, do I do my sock draw or do I go looking for Crossbills. I thought I would get Mike to give me some tips first .
Has I had been twitching the last two Weekends I was looking forward to do some local birding. So I went to Bryn Du and the forest behind the gas tanks. The Crossbills were very scarce with only 1 seen in three and half hours. But the highlights were 4 Woodcock and 2 Kestrels . I also had a small flock of Lesser Redpoll but only 1 Siskin . But I did find some Noble Firs, one had lots of cones on it and there were about 12 Coal Tits feeding on the cones also a Willow Tit feeding in a patch of Willow Herb. I also checked Abernant for Crossbills and there was no birds about. I did however have my third Kestrel of the day and a male Stonechat that has not moved with the weather this year. There were loads of Ravens up at Bryn Pica and it was great hear them again.
Right back to my painting. Graig Abercwmboi next week and webs.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

From Russia with Love

After a year of spectacular dips, the recent successful twitches (Western Orphean and Two-barred) a long distance twitch was on the cards for the Baikal Teal found just north of Southport. The lucky quartet were Rob and Mark Dutfield with Phil and myself sharing the early morning drive. Arriving just after 8:20 the next three hours were spent trying desperately trying to materialise the duck amongst a group of teal. Skiens of Pink-footed Geese and squadrons on Lapwings and Golden Plover kept us entertained and one of the two Great White Egret that are wintering in the area were picked up by Mark. 
Then word spread, the Baikal had been relocated, probably less than half a mile away (as the teal flies), but a good 2+ml walk for us mere humans.
On joining the growing throng, the bird was quickly located, head down, trying to keep a low profile amongst a group of Wigeon.

Spot the Baikal

During the 50 minute watch, it raised it's head a couple of times - once to chase off a drake Wigeon it took exception to! but it preferred to sleep, rather than show off for the massed ranks. That said, it was a top bird, and certainly most (all?) of those making the trip from across the UK are happy that it's the real deal as opposed to a wire jumper.

Friday, 6 December 2013


With an hour to kill in between errands this morning i popped down to Ogmore to have a look what was about, there were (7) Goldeneye, (30+) Teal, (6) Gadwall,singles of Redshank,Turnstone and Little Egret and the highlight a Water Pipit which was feeding just upstream of the sewage works bridge. Now a question for all my fellow birders out there,what does Canada Goose taste like because there was enough of them there to grace many a christmas table surely a good substitute for Turkey?

Monday, 2 December 2013

Forest of Dean

A record shot of one of the Hawfinches sighted in the Forest of Dean yesterday

Tunnel surveys

Did the annual winter tunnel survey with Mark Evans on Sunday counting hibernating herald moths: Cefnglas[82] and Pant [37]. No Merthy/Aberdare tunnel survey has its been pressure grouted in preperation for a Sustrans route, records of hibernating bats were dismissed, so they did it in winter (bat hibernation period), another case of mass hallucinations in the valleys, what are we on. The good news was cobalt crust fungus on the Merthyr side of the Cefnglas, Mark Evans' favourite fungus. Even better news was I didn't have to lie on my back in the mud to veiw, its on a dead stem sprouting from the north approach wall. Bird wise; small parties of crossbills each time I visit Llwyn-onn/Garw Nant with a single wigeon on Llwyn-onn with mallard [30]. No sign of shrike with a kestrel always present on north clearfell.