Monday, April 10, 2006

Choughed

I managed a quick call to Cardiff Bay on Saturday. I finally connected with one little gull, but it was hard work fighting against the wind and reflection of the sun on the water. That was my 150th species for the year. On Sunday I popped down to Ogmore in the hope of seeing the newly resident party of choughs. I managed to meet with Tim on the journey down and we had a quick visit to Watermill. A pheasant, swallows and sand martins and a sparrowhawk were on show. On to Ogmore-by-Sea and a walk out towards Southerndown. We were soon picking up several rock pipits and then our first wheatear of the day. Plenty of linnets were singing and pairing in the gorse. We met Dave Carrington who confirmed the choughs were still present but were unsettled, being disturbed by walkers. We continued east, but there was no sign of our birds. We settled high up on the cliffs and ticked a couple of fulmars and a raven. A male peregrine flew past. Jackdaws were busy collecting nesting material. We ran in to Glyn Roberts, but he had not seen the choughs either. After about half and hour we set off back, and within a few minutes we were walking towards six choughs feeding on the ground not more than 30m in front of us. They were a little bit flighty, but we watched them for about 20 minutes as they moved back and for, stopping to feed. As we left, we probably saw the other two birds join them. On the return to the car, we were struck by a stunning male wheatear. Possibly a Greenland race bird but its hard to be sure. In the gorse the linnets were busy, and then Tim picked out a Dartford warbler. Great! We rounded the morning off with half an hour at Portobello. A curlew, three oystercatchers, two redshanks and decent numbers of shelducks and Canada geese were near the island. A willow warbler briefly sang from the gorse. A couple of pied wagtails caught our attention. One was showing characteristics of white wagtail. As I followed it in the binoculars a merlin glided over the river and out over the dunes of Merthyr Mawr. A peregrine flew overhead again. Just before I left, Tim had the briefest of glimpses of what could have been a grey partridge .... or was it a rabbit?

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