31 December 2010

The end of memorable year...

This afternoon, as we walked the dog around the block in fading light, with  masses of Starlings heading off to roost in the reedbeds at Llangennech, it was strange to hear Coal Tit, Great Tit and Blackbird all singing away at the end of one of the coldest Decembers on record. Although not the most remarkable of observations, it really has been a memorable year and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to the blog over the last 12 months. There are plenty of excellent photographs and observations to look back on and I am looking forward to seeing what 2011 brings.
Clive Davies' stunning photo of a Treecreeper at WWT Llanelli a few days ago is a very fitting image on which to end the year.

Bittern at Eglwys

I finally managed to catch up with the Bittern at Eglwys today. It can be found in the bay in front of the old hide beyond the Yacht Club.

Having never seen a Bittern before at Eglwys it was a great way to round off a very eventful 2010!!

Have a great night and Happy New Year!!!


3 Chough were an unusual sight on the saltmarsh.
This water rail was the prey of a Red kite
Bar tailed godwit
Purple sandpiper
Teal over the marshes.

29 December 2010

Ravens in Swansea city centre.

December moths at last

Male December moth
Female December moth
After the cold spell it was nice to see my first December moths of the year (just). Six came to an outside light 4 males and 2 females one of which laid some eggs in the pot I had put her in.
David Painter

28 December 2010

Bittern by turning for Kenfig Ind. Est.

Dave Carrington wrote 'Derek Dykes called in at Kenfig today to enquire about a bird that he had seen with his father at 4pm yesterday. He had photographed it with his phone. I was surprised when I saw the picture. It was taken near Pont Bwriac SS805834 just over the border in NPT. In the picture it appears injured but Deryk assured me the bird was alright. It walked off through a hedge and along a stream. I popped over this morning to see if it was in need of care but had no luck finding it.'
Sounds like this one might have had a lucky escape after being stunned by a vehicle, but worth looking out for if anyone is passing, just in case it has a longer-term injury. (contact Gower Bird Hospital if necessary http://www.gowerbirdhospital.org.uk/)

27 December 2010

Swansea marina.

This Turnstone was feeding in the snow on the deck of a boat.
First winter Greater black back gull
GBB and Black headed gull.

Ring Ouzel in Briton Ferry

Having failed to get any record shots of this bird as it passed through my garden it was great to enjoy Terry(Tovey) & Kim's hospitality earlier today and take a few photos of this fantastic bird.

Obviously not liking the look of my garden, where it stopped briefly on the 23rd, it has been present ever since Christmas Eve in Terry & Kim's garden where it is being looked after very well indeed. With the amount of food on offer here it must think it's Christmas!

The record flight shot shows an area on its back that has a lot of feathers missing and it also shows feathers missing from the wing in the top photo. This is something that I saw on the bird in my garden just before my mad dash for the camera. Proving that this is the same bird.

When I saw this bird first of all I thought it may have been a female due to an apparent dark brown appearance and dirty looking bib. The bird looked much blacker today so maybe I was too hasty to rule out a male?

Terry and Kim have endured a rough time in recent years and it is nice, especially at this time of year, for them to be treated to such a great record in their garden.

Other Thrushes

This Mistle Thrush chased off the Ring Ouzel before Christmas. Apart from that it's been really nice having it around.

6 Fieldfares in the garden yesterday but only this one today.

Song Thrush on sultanas. Normally they only eat sultanas and suet in our garden, but during the snow they would often feed on the apples.

Redwing numbers have been building up recently. 6+ around the garden most of the day.
Sneaky Blackcap! In actual fact the Mistle Thrush rarely pays any attention to the Blackcap and they can be found feeding next to each other often.

26 December 2010

The Big Freeze

Got out and about locally for a few hours today,both Kenfig Pool and Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir are still frozen over but for a small area of open water at each.

Robin on reeds:Parc Slip NR

Water Rail:Parc Slip NR
Greater Scaup:Eglwys Nunydd

Goldeneye:Eglwys Nunydd

23 December 2010

Ring Ouzel in Cimla

A female Ring Ouzel visited the garden today. Unfortunately it's stay was very brief due, in no small part, to 1 of the 2 Mistle Thrushes that have taken up residence in the garden since the heavy snow fall. It was seen around 13:15 and I kept watch for the rest of the day with no further sign.

I consistently put sultanas out for the Blackbirds throughout the year. They visit regularly and numbers increase during winter months when Song Thrushes also come to feed on them. In this cold spell they can easily get through 2 bags a day and in the mornings they are often congregated in numbers waiting for breakfast. On the 20th this month I counted 24 Blackbirds in the garden before the morning feed and at least 3 Song thrushes have also been present together this winter(4 last winter).

Since the snow I've been putting out apples also and 2 Mistle Thrushes now come regularly to feed on them and spend much of the day around the garden. It is only in recent days that Redwing have visited the garden this winter, singles mostly, but 6 together today was a good count.

I am very hopeful that the Ring Ouzel will return long enough for me to get a record shot.It showed interest in the apples during its brief visit. Unfortunately the competition to feed on them in our garden is fierce.

I've listed the birds I've seen feeding on sultanas and apples below, these come from observations taken over the last few years not just this winter.

Birds recorded feeding on sultanas - Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Starling, Jackdaw, Magpie, Jay, Blackcap, Robin, House Sparrow(predating the seeds)

Birds recorded feeding on Apple - Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare, Redwing, Ring Ouzel, Starling, Blackcap, Blue Tit(often the first to use a newly placed apple)

22 December 2010

Gower Tree Sparrow Project update

Andrew Lucas wrote:
The Gower Tree Sparrow Project has been running for over three years now. The aim is to encourage the species at its only known breeding site in the Swansea/Neath area, in western Gower. Each year, the project produces a short newsletter for participating farms.
Trees Sparrows on feeders in western Gower
 The news for 2010 is not good. Despite our efforts with nestboxes and a feeding station, the birds seem to have disappeared from their breeding colony at Newton Farm, near Scurlage. Tree sparrows do have a habit of inexplicably deserting sites, so we hope that they have just moved to another location nearby.
Tree Sparrow winter feeding site
If anyone sees tree sparrows anywhere within the Swansea and Neath area, I'd be very pleased to hear from them.
email a.lucas@ccw.gov.uk
Click here for newsletter

More snow scenes

Sian Musgrave sent me these beautiful images of Pennard Castle and Pennard Pill, flowing through the snow-covered saltmarsh and dunes:

21 December 2010

Southeastern Lesser Whitethroat in Skewen

This cracking little bird, found and identified by Julie & Wayne Eustace in their Skewen garden, is the first occurrence that I am aware of in our area of this form, though in Eastern Glamorgan similar birds have been recorded at Kenfig in 1982 and in a Bridgend garden in February 2005.

...differences between this form and the more familiar nominate race include the light sandy-coloured upperparts, pale wing panel and small bill. The taxonomy of the species is complex and eastern races are currently treated as 'Southeastern Lesser Whitethroat'. I've posted a few more shots at http://www.moonmoths.blogspot.com/
Note that Julie and Wayne regret they are not able to offer an open house to birders (viewing from the house is the only way of seeing the bird) and they inform me that it has been present since 17th November.

18 December 2010

The weather!

A couple more weather shots from this morning perhaps aren't inappropriate at the moment:

Arthur's Stone on Cefn Bryn with snow clouds over Llanelli

thick fog rolling down the Burry Inlet

17 December 2010

Snow on snow on snow on snow...

The first heavy snow fall of the winter in Swansea fell last night. After getting out of Gorseinon, where there was around 6" of snow, getting around the Gower peninsula was a comparative doddle, the ameliorating effect of the sea being more noticeable as we headed west, there being barely an inch or two at Oxwich.

intertidal rocks south of Loughor Bridge

Loughor railway bridge

snow clouds over Pennard cliffs

More snow images at http://moonmoths.blogspot.com/ 

15 December 2010

The status of Waxwing in West Glamorgan

The plot below, which combines all the maximum counts of Waxwings in West Glamorgan over the 1990 to 2010 period, puts the current influx into context. Other than the massive influx in the 2004-05 winter, the species has been an extremely rare visitor, so it is well worth making the effort to see these birds as you never know when such an influx might occur again. Note that prior to 1990, I am aware of no more than half a dozen records, most involving just one or two birds.

Waxwings on The Kingsway

Thanks to Neil Edwards I finally caught up with a group of 8 Waxwings, which were feeding on Whitebeam berries on the Kingsway, then moved onto Rowan berries in Craddock Street. 

feeding on Whitebeam outside the brasserie on The Kingsway

then on Rowan in Craddock Street

See more shots of these stunning birds at http://moonmoths.blogspot.com/

14 December 2010

Rusty hedge

I have noticed that during spells of cold, dry weather, the stems of the polypody ferns are twisted so that the orange-coloured sporangia (spore-bearing structures attached to the underside of the leaf blade) face upwards to the air, which must assist spore dispersal during these favourable conditions. The roadside wall on Cwmbach Road, between Swansea and Waunarlwydd, has a very robust population of what may be the hybrid Manton's Polypody (Polypodium interjectum x P. vulgare = P. x mantoniae).

swansea university

black redstart male on ILS building, nest to pub on pond entrance, this morning.

13 December 2010

Waxwings off the Kingsway in Swansea

I'm still hoping someone will come up trumps with some photographs of West Glamorgan Waxwings. If anyone wants to try and obtain some, it seems Belle Vue Way or Craddock Street might be the place to go over the next few days, as 30 were seen there today. It's possible that these are, in part, the same as the birds seen in Swansea High Street over the last week or so. Please let us know if you see this species, especially if you manage to get any photographs...

... lovely record shot taken by Karen McCullough on the 13th of part of a group of 16 she saw in Belle Vue Way, Swansea:

11 December 2010

Bitterns@KNNR today

I know it's not strictly in West Glamorgan but I thought I'd post a few photos of some of the three Bitterns that were strolling the channels in front of the South pool hide this morning.