Thursday, 27 February 2014


Found part of a short-eared owl wing this morning, appears to have been dismembered by a raptor, no damage to wing, parted from body by a smooth cut. Any ideas, I've had peregrine on site in the recent past. Also present; wigeon[12], goldeneye[10], tufted[3], pochard[1m], pair of stonechat and 5 skylark apparently on territory.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Hen Harrier

Had a message today from Marc Everett of male hen harrier at 13:35 hours, seen from the Beacons reservoir to Penderyn road. From description of location sounds like SN9410, but inside Powys, another HH I've missed this winter. Also messed up a 2007 moth record, see Glamorgan Moth Recording Group site, why I should have put my pin number down as my chestnut count is beyond me. HoHum

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Birding pal

This is Jenny Welch she was my birding pal in Florida and was very up to date on the sites in the Kissimmee area and also good company.

Monday, 17 February 2014

musings on roosting gulls

I've always (well for the last few years since I moved up the valleys) thought that all the gulls around this area roosted on Pontstic' res, except their rare shift to Llwyn Onn. Walking home from the station this evening I noticed a group of large gulls flying down the Taf, from the Merthyr direction. In a 10 minute period I counted over 200 heading down the valley, towards Cardiff. I guess they were heading to roost in Cardiff Bay area as I can't think of any large water body that way before you hit the Bay. I've not noticed any significant movement og gulls down the valley previously, though I have noted gulls flying up the valley early in the morning., so it shouldn't have been much of a surprise. This number of gulls would constitute some 10% of the Pontstic' roost (Mike, correct me if I've got my maths wrong). A portion of the Merthyr feeding gulls roosting down the Bay would go some way to explain the occasional Great Black Backed, Yellow-legged, Iceland and Glaucous turning up in the area.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Why did the Partridge cross the Road?

As I had an athletics meet in Birmingham today, and needing to be there by 8:30am, I did my WeBS yesterday - no reappearance of last months Water Rail, but both pair of Dippers look to be well into breeding mode.(4 is an unusually high number, apparently for this species). After that I took a walk over to Nelson Bog where the highlight was 4+ Willow Tit.
On to today. The drive up to Birmingham was enlivened when a Red-legged Partridge walked across the M5, followed not long after when a Glossy Ibis flew across, the later about a half mile before the junction with the M5.
Athletics duties over by 11:30, and it was off to Hams Hall to catch up with the wintering Hume's Warbler. Park up, kit on, walk down to join the other birders, there it is, nice - and it more or less was about that quick. It certainly showed a lot better than the Dorset bird from a couple of years ago even though it wasn't that much closer. after watching the Hume's on and off for about half an hour, I spent an hour or so wandering around the area, but nothing of note was seen.
On the way home I pulled into Rhaslas (about 4:40) to see if any SEOs were making the most of the pleasant weather. Unfortunately, no SEO's, but there was a distant male Hen Harrier. Ducks on the pond were - Wigeon (21), Goldeneye (9), Goosander (5), Tufted duck (2). A single Curlew dropped into the pond, while overhead 100+ Carrion Crow, 1600+ Starlings and 2000+ Jackdaws were impressive. 

Pwll Waun Cynon Webs

After thinking about it for awhile I finally give myself a kick up the backside and got myself a WEBS count to do. The site I picked is Pwll Waun Cynon Nature Reserve ( Peace Park ) in Mountain Ash.

And what I glorious morning to do my first count, no wind, no rain just lovely bright sunshine, it was a really pleasure to be out and about.

Bird wise I managed 10 species which were Mallard x 7, Moorhen x 5, Coot x 2, Teal x 6, Water Rail x 1, Little Grebe x 1, Herring Gull x 2, Dipper x 2, Cormorant x 3 and Lesser Blacked Backed Gull x 1.

I then walked down the River Cynon which was still quite high after all the rain and therefore very quiet, the only bird of note was a Redhead Goosander just below Mountain Ash Bridge.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Happy Birthday Mike

I know many people will be surprised thinking that it happened about 10 years ago but Mike Hogan has reached another milestone today he has turned 65 and to be honest looking good for it.

So all together now

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Michael,
Happy Birthday to you 

With our voices it's better to write it than sing it to you.

Rob said it's his round next.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Posting check

If this gets there, posting is not one of my problems, I have plenty of others including a complete lack of birthday cards, b******s.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Grand theft auto.

I was making a cup of tea on Sunday morning when I heard my phone ringing upstairs but by the time I got to it it had rung off, the call was from Mr.Bell, I tried ringing him back but it was engaged. Although I was still hung over from the previous night at the Merlin (Marks fault) I guessed the call was bird related so had a quick look at Birdguides and saw a Ross's Gull had been found at Aberavon beach. By this time Martin had phoned me back and said to get ready asap as he was on his way and within half an hour or so we were on our way to Aberavon. Arriving at the seafront we could see Phil's (grey/blue three door 62 plate Renault Clio!) and parked opposite. We kitted up as quick as we could and made our way to the beach where we could see other birders huddled together out of the wind against the sea wall. We stood next to Phil and Martin who told us the gull had been on the beach only two minutes before our arrival but had flown off, blind panic for me as this was a lifer but thanks to the eagle eyes of others ten minutes later I was enjoying good views of the bird along with at least three Little Gulls. We continued to watch the gull for a while as it fed and finally lost it as it landed near the river mouth, a cracking bird and great to meet up with a few birders I hadn't seen for a while. We said our goodbyes and made our way back to the cars where I witnessed Mr.Hill try and get into a (five door grey Renault Clio with a private number plate) myself and Mr Bell had noticed this wasn't Phil's car but Phil and Mr.Bevan hadn't much to our amusement, after a few minutes Phil realised his mistake and sheepishly head bowed in shame made his way to his own car. After the disappointment of the Wales game this was just the tonic I needed, two lifers in a week long may it continue, a great find by Mark Hipkin and a big thank you to Martin for the phone call.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Beating the winter blues

A day off work to twitch the Red-flanked Bluetail over in South Gloucester with Messrs Gaze and Dutfield saw me tick off the species at the top of my UK most wanted list. Viewing was not helped by the fact that I lost a contact lens on the walk down to the bird! Most of the time the bird was distant (a scope would have come in handy) but it did perch up some 5m away at one point, giving excellent views of this super Sibe'. It may no longer be the CMF rarity it used to be, but who cares! I don't think it was giving the views seen earlier in the week as most of those down this morning "chased" the bird from bush to bush, meaning it kept midway up the slope for most of the time we were there - certainly many of the toggers looked to be trying to obtain shots for the forthcoming book on the Field Guide to Avian Anal Cavities.

From there it was a short hop, with Kevin Hughes in tow, to the Corn Bunting wintering site. Some 50 were seen, though most were distant, with some in song. A covey of around 18 Red-legged Partridges, at least half a dozen Yellowhamers (all male?), and a small flock of Lapwing added to the day list.

With the return of the rain, we headed back across the bridge and called into Uskmouth for the yankee Wigeon which was found a couple of days ago. On arriving at the lighthouse 2 birders were seen, about 50m to our right, eyes to scopes. We joined them, but they hadn't found the target, but the incoming tide was only just pushing the ducks out of the small creeks and channels. After some 5 mins scanning, with no luck, I decided to take a wander further along and about 150 m to the left of where I'd left the guys, the drake American Wigeon was showing well. After phoning Rob (no answer), shouting and waving like a mad man, the others eventually noticed and made their up to me, to enjoy the Neararctic wanderer, followed by a coffee/tea and chat in the visitors centre before making our way home.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Scarlet Elf Cup

These are the Elf Cups I found on the path from Abernant to Robertstown . I took these shots today, they are a bit soggy but they are a little better than the last ones. Only birds seen were two Goosander on a very high River Cynon.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


Rob texted me this morning and bribed me with a bar of chocolate ( he knows my weaknesses ) to go with him to Marshfield to try and see the reported Red Flanked Bluetail.  I sorted out my work and said ok as long as we are not too long as I needed to get back to do my posting.  He assured me that it was only an hour to get there and as long as the bird was seen quickly we would be back in plenty of time.
No problem I thought, got to Rob's about 10:15am and we set off with Rob driving!!!.  At 12.30 we were still in Newport caught in one of the worst traffic jams I have been in ( I thought everyone had come out to see Rob actually driving ).  Seriously though on the way back we seen what caused the delay an horrific accident involving a coach near the Caerleon turn off on the M4.
We managed to get back onto the M4 at the Caldra roundabout and it was main sailing from there and we soon found ourselves walking along a muddy field towards the spot where the bird was last seen. 
Within five minutes we were enjoying
as Rob put it, a little stonker.  A lifer for Rob, a second for me ( I went with Mr Bevan to Ramsgate a few years ago for one ) but this one was showing much better. I haven't seen Rob smile so much since Mr Bevan showed him a lesser pecker in Spain!!!
Above is another of my less than perfect record shots.

Diver and shrike still present

I took a stroll this a.m. and had great northern diver still at Llwyn-onn at 09:30, as usual eating signals and great grey shrike at 10:30 at Garw Nant, west fence of the south clearfell. Otherwise still very quiet with Dowlais gull numbers down and the usual winter wildfowl at Rhaslas. Oh hum, I need a holiday!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Black on Black

Taking advantage of a lull in the weather, I did my raven count at dawn, this morning. Notes from previous early February counts told me that somewhat unfathomably, they often choose this month to loose all reason and start flying out up to a full two hours before dawn, instead of the usual half an hour... don't ask me, I just count them!
At 06:00, as I arrived at the site and surveyed the darkness all around me, I began wondering whether over the years a sort of post January madness had caused me to commit serial watch misreadings, but that train of thought was abruptly derailed but the sound of a raven calling in the darkness... Oh great! I thought, through the gritted teeth of the mind and trudged off through the gale (slight exaggeration) to the place from which I count them.
After twenty minutes of sitting around in the surprisingly cold wind, wondering what sound nadgers make when they hit the ground, all the while hearing the occasional raven call from the direction of the roost, it stared kicking off when at 06:30 the first of them suddenly appeared  overhead. I say appeared , but it was still so dark I could only hear them. Two were calling above, but there may have been more up there, invisible and silent. Between then and 07:00 I counted 12 ravens by sound alone and missed an unknown number of silent birds. From seven on I was able to see them, though still with more than usual difficulty and it wasn't until quarter past that the Stygian gloom relented sufficiently for me to count with the naked (watering) eye.
The last gasp of the count was a group of four birds that left at 07:35, the grand total for this count being 88, which is a fairly usual count for February.
I am looking forward to the March count as it is the first of spring. I just hope it isn't as difficult as today's and I can just sit back and enjoy it.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Far from the maddening crowd.....Not

With the forecast for ongoing showers, I decided to do some birding somewhere were shelter could be found so decided to head over the bridge to Slimbridge - bad move! the place was heaving, getting in was bad enough as there was some event on with stands selling optic's, painting, clothing and Hols, etc. in the foyer.
Quickly (well, as quickly as I could) I made my way down t the Tower hide over looking the Dumbles. The Dumbles didn't exist as the tide had completely covered it, but fortuately the tide was on the way out and the levels dropped, though the saltmarsh never really managed to shed it's covering of water.

As the tide receded the Dumbles filled with thousands of Lapwing and Golden Plover, hundreds of Wigeon, Teal, etc. Amongst these was a single Bar-tailed Godwit, a Little Stint, 3 Knot and a Dark-bellied Brant.While in the distance (towards the Zeiss hide) a pair of Crane (from the re-intro project) strutted their stuff.

A visit to the "back from the brink" tropic house gave great views of some now familiar species and a few that I would love to see in the wild, particularly the Chestnut-backed Thrush.

Weather for the Ducks

Sunday is here again and I started the morning up in Dare Valley country park trying to add to my list. The Tufted  Ducks were still present the total is now ten and fifteen Mallard and just for you boys nine joking ducks. Also on site there were four Little Grebes and four Moorhen, but best of all were fourteen coot. What a great bird and the bird of the day. Next work or Cwm Cadlan mmm this a hard one than it started raining and Cwm Cadlan it is then. I stopped at the gropper site first and found one soggy Red Kite sitting on a rock . Great start new bird number one and then I stopped by the cattle grid and there were loads Fieldfare and Starling by the farm and one more Kite and Kestrel over the ridge. I  then had a person year tick as a car pulled up and Kevin Hughes got out. He must feel the cold more than me as he was almost shaking with the cold and went off towards Llwyn Onn res. I parked by the cattle grid by the Forest and walked over the Cadlan and first I found some droppings and then flushed a Jack Snipe. Year tick number two and I had a great view as it flew over me and went off over the forest. Time to head back. I also took the dogs over to Abernant and I found some Scarlet Elf Cups which was a first for me and was cheesed off as I had the wrong lens for the camera. I will try and get better shots tomorrow.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The garden watch

Last weekend I did the big garden birdwatch and I was very surprised on what was feeding in  the garden 64 Goldfinch /  4 Lesser Redpoll / 3 Siskin / 7 Chaffinch / 3 Robin / Dunnock / 3 Blackbird.  This photo was not last Sunday as it was bloody raining as normal.

Willow Tit

Tir Founder Fields this morning 1 male Willow Tit singing by railway line. This give me a total of 66 for this year and it's been hard work so far. It feels like I am in trainnig for Canada with all this rain and cold weather birding. I sure need an holiday.