We saw the swallows gathering in the sky
And in the osier-aisle we heard them noise …
The pilgrims of the year waxed very loud
In multitudinous chattering.
~ George Meredith, Modern Love, sonnet xlvii
It’s two weeks today since junior Lesser black-backed gull flew the coop – or, in this case, the nest amongst the chimney pots, and I’m pleased to report that it seems to be thriving.
I’ve spotted it on neighbouring shed and house rooftops several times, and I’m sure it’s the same bird, as one or both of the adults sit on the nest site while junior screeches at them for food from somewhere nearby. It’s so nice to be able to report a success story.
This morning’s wander took me down to Cardiff Bay to walk the path along the embankment of the River Ely, my first walk that way for a while, as there tend to be less interesting birds to see during the summer months and more people to avoid. And so it was, though there is never nothing to see.
House martins were still filling the air with their calls and zipping swiftly back and forth, hunting low over the water then taking insects back to feed their young, which must be second or even third broods now.
Large numbers of Coot and Mallard were feeding on the water weed or sitting preening on the water’s edge of the embankment, and several Swan were floating regally past. A couple fell out and were half-heartedly chasing each other.
I saw only three Great crested grebes, a low number for this location. Two were adults and one a well grown juvenile that was snoozing amongst the weed.
And I saw only two Pied wagtails, which is also a small quantity for the embankment. Their jaunty striding back and forth always makes me grin.
I hope this little Song thrush fledgling managed to find its parents, or they found it. I spotted sitting in the middle of a footpath but it managed to hop into the vegetation at the side of the path as I approached, and I could hear what might have been adult birds peeping softly from the surrounding bushes and trees. Fingers crossed!
From an initial count of three chicks, the local Lesser black-backed gulls nesting amongst a neighbour’s chimney pots have managed to raise one to fledging. I’ve been watching it practising its flying skills over recent days and, finally this morning, it has left the shelter of its nest site.
Though it was pottering around the rooftops for a while, I can no longer see the chick. Now follows the dangerous time for this fledgling of learning to find its own food, finding shelter against bad weather, escaping domestic cats and dogs in the various neighbours’ gardens, and avoiding cars on roads…. Good luck, little one!
For the first time in who knows how long a pair of Stonechats overwintered at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park and, came the Spring, they bred, the first time this has ever been recorded at Cosmeston. The two offspring are now well grown juveniles and, if you’re lucky, the family can be seen feeding and flitting about together along the hedgerows and amongst the wildflowers in Cosmeston’s meadows. I caught up with them during a walk last Thursday and was delighted that at least one of the family was happy to be photographed and videoed.
As I was walking down a narrow country lane last Sunday, I was delighted to come across this family of Starlings – Mum, Dad and several juveniles – perched in the tops of the hedgerow that bordered the lane.
Young birds are often more trusting than adults but, in this case, the whole family was content to sit and chatter and poke about in the bushes, so I managed to get a few reasonable photos.
To me, juvenile Starlings are a bit like the proverbial ugly duckling – they start out quite plain but develop into exceedingly beautiful birds. As you can see, these young ones are just beginning to get their magnificently iridescent adult plumage.
As the song goes …
‘When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along, along
There’ll be no more sobbin’ when he starts throbbin’ his old sweet song….’
~ Harry Woods, ‘When the red red robin comes bob bob bobbin’ along’, 1926
Woods was writing about an American Robin (Turdus migratorius), which is a very different bird from the British Robin (Erithacus rubecula), but the bobbing still applies. And this juvenile Robin, which is just moulting into its adult plumage, was bobbing very well for me during yesterday’s exercise walk.
Monday’s walk was a delight, my first of the new-fangled socially distanced walks with a friend. As well as each other’s good company, we enjoyed a lovely wander around part of Cardiff Bay, including the wetlands reserve. There is always an abundance of Great crested grebes in the waters around the reserve and this day we also spotted two pairs breeding.
One pair was perhaps making a second attempt, as this is late in the season to begin their breeding cycle. While one bird brooded their single (so far) egg, the other was keeping itself busy gathering extra materials to add to the nest.
We then noticed another pair of grebes that already had two chicks (birders commonly call them ‘humbugs’ because of their striped colouring) and, while the two little ones sheltered on one adult’s back, the other went fishing for sprats for its offspring. It was wonderful to watch them.
As opportunity and luck have allowed, I’ve been taking photos of this year’s juvenile birds. This first photo, of one of a couple of young Pied wagtails, was taken about a month ago, on a walk alongside the River Ely. The two fledglings looked very young, quite exposed and vulnerable, and the parents were nowhere to be seen. I only saw the young birds this one time.
Juvenile Blackcaps look like the female of the species, which also wears a brown cap, as opposed to the black cap atop the males’ heads.
Blue tit young are very cute, following along in the trees and bushes behind their parents, constantly peeping for food and learning to forage by watching the adults as they gather tiny insects to feed their noisy offspring.
Long-tailed tit chicks are probably the cutest of the common young birds, I think. This one kept poking its head into that curly leaf below it, searching for tiny insects. Sadly, the photos I tried to capture of that were all blurry.