Sunday, May 29, 2011

Choughed to bits

I went on a few days relaxation to South Wales recently and managed to have some great birding days.On the Tuesday we went to Port Eynon. Walking along the beach we had a good view of the bay with two wheatears, several swallows and whitethroats all over. Very few gulls except for three Herring Gulls and one lesser black-backed. As we watched a common blue butterfly, a whitethroat seemed to grab for it yet somehow missed. three more butterflies joined the first in a dazzling blue dance.
 Several blackbirds, a skylark and two displaying meadow pipits were an added bonus. Then we heard a slightly different pipit song. It was a rock pipit. On our way back to the car rabbits were in abundance as were jackdaws so we were delighted to spot a speckled wood butterfly.   Worms Head was our next destination. More jackdaws, gulls and whitethroats, as well as a curlew, and the view was awesome. I was checking every smallish black crow to see if they were choughs, but up to then no avail. We sat down to take in the view and as we did, we heard the unmistakable call of our rarest corvid. They were right over our heads giving us easy views of their scarlet bills. We decided to return to our vehicle by a slightly different route. A stone chat family feeding was our reward for this on-the-spot change of plan. A visit to Oxwich Bay Hotel for a warm drink encouraged us to come the following morning for an early walk.

Wednesday 0445 setting off in woodland to the sound of chiffchaff and song thrush was a great start. Lots of usual woodland birds, willow warbler, tree-creeper, great spotted woodpecker, goldcrest and the ever present song of blackbirds was terrific. In the distance, quietly at first, but closer and louder we heard cuckoo. this continued for about an hour. We were very close to the reed bed by now so sedge and reed warblers were also adding their two pennyworth. We ended our circuit on the edge of sand dunes and next to a large pond. A cacophony of sound helped us find a heron's nest and just below the top of the reeds a reed bunting said hello. It had been a superb morning, and all before eight-o-clock. A late breakfast, followed by a catch-up on lost sleep was the order of the day. After a reasonable time of refreshment another walk took us into a nearby woodland. More birds added to our list were garden warbler greenfinch and long tailed tit. We paused by a pond surrounded by yellow flag iris and scanned the surface. Here it was odonata that held our interest. Large red and azure damselflies were outdone by two stunning emperor dragonflies. However the sighting of the day left it to almost the last moment. Swimming across the pond was a grass snake. They are beautiful . It must be seven years since I saw my last, and first, one. I continue to be gob smacked by the variety of life in creation. This was another tremendous day.
My final day was curtailed outside by rain but we were able to add nuthatch and swift to our list. I am sure I will return again to South Wales

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