Birding at Dryslwyn and Kidwelly Quay


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Despite early drizzle and cool winds throughout the day, yesterday was another cracking day’s birding with 15 of my fellow members of the Glamorgan Bird Club on our field trip to Dryslwyn and Kidwelly Quay.

190218 1 Dryslwyn

From the car park at the base of Dryslwyn and from the nearby bridge over the River Towy, we had views of a good range of birds, from the hundreds of gulls to smaller numbers of Teal, Wigeon, Goosander, Curlew, Greylags and the ubiquitous Canada geese. A real feast for the eyes was a huge flock of Fieldfare grazing in a distant paddock – I’d never seen so many before, and a Great white egret impressed with a stately fly by.

190218 2 Great white egret190218 3 Red kites

Though some of our group had spotted Whooper swans when they first arrived, it wasn’t until we moved on to nearby Cilsan Bridge that the rest of us got to see some, probably the same four birds, in fact. And, though we’d already had a sighting of a Red kite, we now saw three more, at first sitting together in a tall tree, then quartering the local fields.

190218 4 Common buzzard

Another treat near the bridge was a Common buzzard that was anything but common, with its extremely pale plumage. For a few minutes, speculation raged over whether it might be a rare Rough-legged buzzard but closer examination of its various attributes put paid to that theory.

190218 5 Golden plover

On to Kidwelly Quay for some hastily munched lunch, one eye already on the thousands of birds in the estuary, with Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew, Black-tailed godwits, Greenshank and, the most numerous by far, the gorgeous Golden plovers. Another year tick for me came from the two Long-tailed ducks that suddenly appeared as if by magic in the water near our vantage point. (That’s them flying together, centre left below.)

190218 6 Long-tailed ducks

As we had some time to wait for the incoming tide to push the more distant birds in towards us, we decided a stroll was in order and took a turn around the local tracks, adding some of the more common small birds to our tally, including a Chiffchaff and some Goldcrests.

190218 7 Black-tailed godwits

Then, back at the quay, we enjoyed reasonably close views of a number of Red-breasted Mergansers, a small flock of Common snipe circled up, around and back to the field across the water, and John spied a Spotted Redshank hanging out with Greenshanks under the railway bridge, another year tick for many of us. Our last, but certainly not least, sighting of the day was a Hen harrier hunting over the salt marsh, always a wonderful bird to see even at a distance.

190218 8 Red-breasted mergansers

My total for the day was 60 species: Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Black-tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Collared Dove, Common Buzzard, Chiffchaff, Common Gull, Common Redshank, Common Snipe, Cormorant, Dunlin, Dunnock, Curlew, Teal, Wigeon, Golden Plover, Fieldfare, Goldcrest, Goosander, Great Black-backed Gull, Great Egret, Great Tit, Greenshank, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Hen Harrier, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Long-tailed Duck, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Mediterranean Gull, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Raven, Red Kite, Red-breasted Merganser, Redwing, Reed Bunting, Robin, Shelduck, Song Thrush, Spotted Redshank, Starling, Stock Dove, Whooper Swan and Woodpigeon.

The group total was 73, as others also logged Goldfinch, Great Crested Grebe, Great Northern Diver, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Greenfinch, Jay, Meadow Pipit, Nuthatch, Peregrine Falcon, Pheasant, Sparrowhawk and Wren.

49/365 With laser-sharp chants


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190218 Great tit

‘The laser-sharp chants of great tits’ is how Brett Westwood describes the sounds these enchanting little birds sing out as the fever of spring begins to take hold and they vie with each other to advertise their charms and attract a mate. I think, however, that this little one’s chirping at me today was more about food than anything else.

* The quote is from Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss, Wonderland: A year of Britain’s wildlife day by day, John Murray, London, 2017.

48/365 Prints in the mud


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190217 mud prints (2)

Today has been another fabulous day out with my friends from the Glamorgan Bird Club, enjoying the magnificent Welsh countryside and marvelling at all its amazing birds – and I’ll report on that in tomorrow’s blog post – but, for me, the most exciting thing today was these prints in the mud under a bridge near Dryslwyn. I think these are the closest I’ve yet been to a live Otter!

190217 mud prints (1)

47/365 Cherry blossom


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Today was a chores day so I just had a little tootle around my local haunts. But my photo was taken right outside my house. As a first-floor-flat dweller, I don’t have a garden but the tiny stone-filled front yard of my building has a magnificent Cherry tree, which fills half the view from my living room window and brings me great joy throughout the year. I have been watching its buds swell fatter and fatter until, finally, today the first several of its blossoms have opened.

46/365 Barry Fox


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Under blue skies and glorious sunshine, I returned to Barry for another long exploratory meander today so I expected this blog post to contain one of the many photos I took of water lapping on sand, aerobatic gulls soaring overhead, seaweed floating in and out on the waves, birds feeding amongst the reeds and rivulets in the Old Harbour …. But then I happened to glance over a railing into someone’s allotment and saw this gorgeous creature basking in the warm afternoon sun. And all thoughts of a marine theme vanished in a blink of a sleepy fox’s eye.

190215 fox

45/365 Sweet heart


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To be honest, I’m not one to get excited about days like today – too much commercial hype and money wasted on needless rubbish. But, when I spotted this almost-heart-shaped Scarlet elfcup, I thought I would at least share a little love for Nature from Nature.

44/365 Bee-lieve it or not


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Today has been incredibly mild and Spring-like, and the warmer temperatures encouraged the birds to sit singing on tree tops, flowers to open (the flowers in this photo are Alexanders Smyrnium olusatrum – the first I’ve seen open this year), and lapping up the pollen from those flowers was my first bee of 2019.

43/365 Spring in the air


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The scent of Spring was strong in the air today or, at least, all the birds I saw thought so. The Great crested grebes were being particularly amorous. First, though, this female fancied some lunch – just a little snack to keep her energy levels up.

190212 great crested grebe (1)

Then she climbed on to the minimal nest that she and her mate had created and got herself ready. The male seemed unsure – perhaps he was shy because I was watching.

190212 great crested grebe (2)

After a couple of minutes when nothing had happened, the female stood up, gave herself a little shake and directed some stern squeaks at the male.

190212 great crested grebe (3)

He had obviously got the message!

190212 great crested grebe (4)

The end made me laugh out loud as he slid unceremoniously over the female’s head in to the water. Let’s hope their efforts were not in vain. I’ll be keeping an eye on them, from a suitable distance.

190212 great crested grebe (5)

42/365 Strata


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190211 St Mary's Well Bay strata

I know nothing at all about geology so I’m not even going to attempt an explanation of what these rocks are, what the formations are called, which periods they date from. I just think they look damn cool! This photo was taken on today’s walk from Sully back to Pernarth, looking east across St Mary’s Well Bay, with Lavernock Point in the background.

41/365 Oak trees


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190210 oak trees

I’ve been trying to find out how old these Oak trees are but haven’t managed it … yet. They grow on one side of the green that surrounds All Saints Church in Penarth’s Victoria Square. I did discover that the church itself dates originally from 1891, though it had to be rebuilt after being reduced to a burnt-out shell when 100 high explosives and 5000 incendiaries were dropped on Penarth during a bombing raid by the German Luftwaffe on 4 March 1941. I don’t know if the trees were also damaged in that bombing or whether they date from the 1890s … or even earlier. Whatever their age, they are magnificent.