Thursday, September 29, 2005

Grey Phalarope at Nantyffyllon 28th Sept

Lovely bird in an unlikely setting, on a small stream in a spoil tip! I timed it well, as it began raining just after I arrived there, and didn't stop all day. Arrived home in Cardiff to discover another one had been found on the River Taff near the City Centre. Typical!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


I've now reached 178 for the year on my UK list. Recent highlights include Osprey, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Crake. There's a few nice birds not too far away, e.g. Red-necked Phalarope in Carmarthen, Red-backed Shrike down the Gower and Great White Egret in Somerset. I probably won't get to any of these though, so I'm hoping for a successful Portland Trip. I'm hoping for Firecrest, Wryneck and Bearded Tit at least, but with a bit of luck some other passage migrants. I should boost the total with some wildfowl at Slimbridge a little later in the year, and hopefully a Marsh Harrier at Shapwick Heath, a couple of white-winged gulls on the coast and the odd rarity here and there, and I may get to 200 after all.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Little Crake at Slimbridge

I finally managed to make the trip up to Slimbridge for the Little Crake. On approach to the Zeiss/Lathbury hides area I was welcomed by a glum looking chap who said it hadn't been seen for an hour. Well I squeezed myself into a seat on the upper floor of the Zeiss Hide, raised my binoculars and was then delighted to hear the cry of "There it is!" The obliging little bird was making its way from left to right giving decent views while walking through the reeds. By know the hide was humming with birders exclaiming that they could or couldn't see it, and one chap in particular nearly had a break-down because he couldn't get on it. Another lady distracted me by enthusing about the breeding Bitterns at the RSPB reserve and Kenfig! Little Crake at SlimbridgeAnyway, I managed to take a handful of record shots, which is my first serious attempt at digiscoping. It was extremely difficult in a full hide with lots of movement, but this one is okay. A little later in the day, I returned to the Lathbury Hide and was rewarded with great views of the bird out in the open. The day was rounded off by two Curlew Sandpipers on the South Lake. So one lifer and a year tick for me today. Now for that Redhead!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Pembroke Dock-Rosslare-Pembroke Dock

Jeff had the great idea of doing an Irish Sea trip, and organized the booking. A late night, or is that early morning, start saw us leave Maesteg at 12:40am, and a smooth journey saw arrive at the Port in easy time for the 02:45am departure. There's even free parking. We found a couple of three seater seats to lie out on in an attempt to get a couple of hours sleep on the outward journey. Jeff managed better than I did, as the constant snoring of another passenger kept me entertained. We made our way up on the top deck about half an hour before getting into Rosslare. That was worth it, as the boat started churning the water up, attracting loads of birds, including adult Mediterranean Gull, adult and immature Kittiwakes, Sandwich and Common Terns. We spent a couple of hours in the ferry terminal, picking up Manx Shearwaters, two Artic Skuas, more terns and a few Razorbills. On leaving at 08:45am, we went straight up on the top deck. It proved to be too windy for 'scopes to be useful, but it didn't matter as the birds were close enough to see easily with binoculars. We got a nice Pomarine Skua, 100s, perhaps 1000s, of Manx Shearwaters, 100s of Gannets, a really nice Great Skua, 3 distant Storm-petrels, Guillemots, Razorbills and flocks of 'Commic' Terns which were just too distant to pin down to either Common or Arctic. To cap it all though, was a Cory's Shearwater, which was a lifer for me. Jeff managed to see a Minke Whale too, but I missed it. We got back to Pembroke Dock at 13:00, so we had a good 4 hours seawatching. The sense of anticipation as you travel is great, as you're watching birds almost constantly, and there's a real sense that something good is coming next. Even if a rarity doesn't come up though its still so good to see so many of these birds in their element. I'm sure we'll go again. The great thing is that it can be organized right at the last minute when you know the birds are around and the conditions will be favourable.

Little Gull in the Bay

A quick dash down to Cardiff Bay on Friday evening was rewarded with nice views of a juvenile Little Gull. Continually flying to and fro' over the water, the striking dark markings on its wings back and head were evident. The bird was not seen from the Wetlands Reserve, but was showing well from Prospect Place.