31 December 2009

Garden Treat

This female Blackcap, now 1 of 3 including 1 male, has been feeding in our garden for the last few days. She is particularly fond of suet block and also apples. She has become very territorial in the last couple of days chasing off all birds of a similar size and smaller. Blackcaps visit our garden most winters and I have noticed that in recent days a few other garden records around Glamorgan. It is thought most of these wintering Blackcaps have come from Europe , particularly alpine regions. It always seems strange to me to see them behaving so boldly in the garden during the winter when they are the opposite during the summer months.

On that note I would like to thank Barry Stewart for all the help he has provided since my return into the birding world earlier this year and wish all readers a Happy New Year.


Partial lunar eclipse

Clear skies to end the year, allowing excellent viewing of a partial lunar eclpise. A very nice way to end 2009...

Beach strandings at Oxwich

Colour-ringed Sanderling G4RYRY
Up to 18 Sanderling and a single Ringed Plover were on Oxwich beach this morning, feeding mostly on moribund Egg-shell Razors (Pharus legumen) and possibly also stranded Starfish (Asterias rubens). One bird was colour-ringed, this having been seen at the same place earlier in the month [5th] by Peter Douglas-Jones. Life history details to follow...

Moribund Starfish & Egg-shell Razors

Gadwall at Oxwich

Gadwall numbers have increased in recent winters at the few freshwater sites where favourable habitat exists. At Oxwich 32 were noted today, though the highest count was at Fairwood Lake where 51 were counted on 19-Dec-08 by Harold Grenfell & Peter Douglas-Jones. The highest count at Oxwich to date was 40 on 18-Jan-09.

29 December 2009

Hen Harriers in west Gower

Map showing 2009 winter records (in red).In addition to sightings at the regular winter roost in the extensive stands of Saltmarsh Rush at Llanrhidian, there have recently been a good number of records elsewhere on the western half of the Gower peninsula. Observations of hunting birds have been made at Rhossili Down, The Viel field system, Scurlage and locations on Cefn Bryn. It is likely that there are at least four birds involved with two adut males and two ringtails. Roosting may not be restricted to Llanrhidian Marsh as historically the north-east facing dip slope of Cefn Bryn SS4990 has also been used.

26 December 2009

Boxing Day

The tail-end of a heavy shower produced this stunning rainbow over Cilifor Top late in the afternoon.

24 December 2009

Good skies for Santa

The eve before Christmas on the Burry Inlet. The birding fraternity have already received their Christmas present, but there's always a chance of the odd stocking filler before the year's end. Happy Christmas!

Ectoedemia septembrella leaf mine

The leaf mine of the Nepticulid moth Ectoedemia septembrella occurs on Hypericum species including Rose-of-Sharon (H. calycinum) and other ornamental species. It was first recorded in Glamorgan in Cardiff as recently as 2004 and is now well-established there. It was first found in Swansea in 2006 by Martin White in Swansea Marina and a thin scatter of subsequent records indicate that it is now probably widespread in urban situations around the city. The above photo was taken in Gorseinon today. Please report if you see this recent colonist...

23 December 2009

Pipits and Thrushes at Wernffrwd

Meadow Pipit
The spring line along the upper edge of the saltmarsh was one of the few areas where freshwater was available this morning and subsequently attracted a good number of smaller birds, in addition to the usual Snipes and Egrets, etc. An increase in Song Thrushes and Meadow Pipits was obvious, and a Water Pipit was only feet from the car, but flew before I could get my camera! Two Kingfishers were also seen feeding along the narrow pills.

22 December 2009

Dim Hebog y Gogledd o gwbl

View from Moor Corner Farm towards Rhossili Down, Hardings Down and Llanmadoc Hill.
No sign of the Gyr at Scurlage since the 19th...

19 December 2009

Gyr sightings

For any would-be Gyr-spotters, this map shows all reported sightings to date (updated 19th Dec). Note Andrew's original sighting is the most north-western of the arrows shown and the red circle shows where the bird was seen perched yesterday. For square-bashers, so far the bird's been seen in SS48P and SS48T [and today SS48Y], but it does seem likely that it may also have another feeding area somewhere to the north-west, possibly Llangennith Moors, as it has been seen flying off strongly in this direction a few times. For today's sighting times see comments...

Reed Bunting in Gorseinon garden

A female Reed Bunting below the feeders was a new species for the garden today, no doubt displaced from its regular haunts by the hard freeze.

18 December 2009

Gyr Falcon at Scurlage

image taken by R.M.Snowdrop, CBC this afternoon from Merrysun Lane
The Gyr was seen three times within the space of an hour at Scurlage (SS4687) this morning, in an area with good numbers of Lapwings and Golden Plovers. It is an absolutely stunning white phase bird and was well worth the effort despite the rather appropriate arctic conditions. Also seen in the same area were Sparrowhawk, Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Merlin & Buzzard. For further observations during the day see comments...

17 December 2009

GYR FALCON at Llanddewi

Just spoken to Andrew Lucas, who saw a white phase Gyr Falcon today at SS4588. The bird was seen in flight heading nnw, so chances seem unlikely it will reappear in the same spot as these birds are notorious wanderers. Fingers and everything else crossed that it will stick around in west Gower a bit longer to enable a few more observers to share Andrew's fantastic fortune.

05 December 2009

Crossbills above Cwmavaon

I have taken on some BTO atlas work this winter and, luckily enough, the tetrads allocated to me are only a short distance from my home. Having not visited these areas for many years (I am ashamed so say) it has been a pleasant suprise to find that, in the main, the local landscape still maintains some very nice habitats. The Crossbills were feeding in a mixed conifer wood to the west of the Bwlch Road, which runs between Cimla and Cwmavon. As is normally the case you could hear the birds chattering to each other in the tree tops well before they could be seen. I was able to get pretty close to the group which consisted of about 35 birds. They were feeding on pine cones and you could hear the pine cones drop periodically from the treetop, crashing into the branches on their way down. On a few occasions the Crossbills were seen to rip the cones from the Scott's Pine (Pinus sylvestris) and fly to neighbouring Japanese Larch (Larix kaempferi) to remove the seeds. This was great for me because the Larch have now dropped their needles allowing me to watch the Crossbills with a very clear view. After about 5 minutes the birds flew off together calling loudly.

Black Redstart at Rhossili

The Black Redstart that has been hanging around the NT shop at Rhossili since at least the 20th November was still present today and was pleasantly confiding in the breezy conditions. One km to the east, in the Nitten field, a female Hen Harrier was seen to make a kill.

02 December 2009

Leach's Storm-petrel at Afan Argoed!

During the minor seabird 'wreck' in the second half of November there were small numbers of Leach's Storm-petrels sighted at various sites up the Bristol Channel, though only one observation of a bird in our area has come to light, this sadly being of a dead bird from Afan Argoed. Simon Allen form the Gower Bird Hospital made these interesting observations and wrote:

'Have had a couple of petrels in:
23/11/09 Afan Forest Park, dead on arrival, missing left Leg from proximal tarsus.
25/11/09 Ammanford, moribund, missing right leg from distal tarsus.
You are probably aware of this but apparently the petrel family is well known for their frequent missing toes and limbs (J Ornithol (2007) 148:333–346). There are many hypotheses, ranging from predatory fish (Harrison 1955; Pitman 1961; Threlfall 1974; Love 1984) as well molluscs, gulls and marine mammals.

Simon makes further reference to research on this phenomenon in an abstract that can be found at http://www.jstor.org/stable/27669760. To see details of the work carried out by the Gower Bird Hospital check out http://www.gowerbirdhospital.org.uk/
For photos of live Leach's check out the bird sightings page of the Portland Bird Observatory website http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/