When I first saw a Buzzard on the ground like this but couldn’t see any sign of it having caught any prey, I wondered if it might be ill. My fellow birders quickly put me right – the Buzzard was probably worming. I never thought a bird of prey would eat something so tiny as an earthworm but needs must when prey is hard to find, or catch. And, indeed, I could see that the end of this bird’s beak was a bit grubby with soil. It was fascinating to watch, especially as the Magpies sneakily tried to pinch what the Buzzard was finding.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.