Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Mountain Magic

Jeff and I set out upon the lower slopes of Garreg Lwyd with a little trepidation. Blue skies in Sarn. No skies in the Black Mountains, just mist, meaning we couldn't see much further than 40m in front of us. Wheatears and skylarks were everywhere and it is amazing how large they look in the mist. We were on the long southern slope before too long, and the mist cleared briefly for us to spot the trig point and realise we'd overshot our intended route. As we approached the cairn we split up, to cover as much of the plateau as possible. Its a barren place, and it would be easy for a couple of skulking birds to go unnoticed. I scanned the eastern slopes just north of the cairn. After about 20 minutes, my mobile rang, and Jeff was on the line with the good news that he was on a bird. Amazing! Hawkeye Slocombe at it again. Thats two decent birds he's found for me this year. I soon joined Jeff, and we were watching a nice female down to about 30m. We decided to approach gently to get a photo. As we got a little closer two dotterels spooked and flew off down the hill. We thought we saw where they landed so decided to pursue them. This proved fruitless, but we concluded there were probably three birds, so we retraced our steps in an attempt to relocate the first bird. After a lot of searching we could not find her. Satisfied we'd achieved our target, but slightly disappointed we didn't watch them for longer we set off back down the hill. The weather was clearing now, and about halfway down, we could see the late-shift birders ascending. As we approached it was clear they had just spotted something of interest. As we joined them, they were just setting their gear up to watch a male and female dotterel showing off some 30m away. We all enjoyed great views and Jeff was lucky enough to fire off a few photos. We were chuffed and returned to the car. Still dry and not a boxer short to be seen anywhere! Next target was red kite on the journey to Craig Cerrig Gleisiad. Not far north of Dan-yr-Ogof caves we picked out five large raptors soaring on some thermals. Four buzzards and a red kite. We arrived at Craig Cerrig Gleisiad as the sun made a strong appearance for the first time in the day. As we got to the 'bowl' we heard a noisy chatter on the cliffs. We both suspected that a ring ouzel was calling, but were both unfamiliar with the call to be sure. After about ten minutes of patient watching, we spotted a male ring ouzel calling from high up. We watched him for about half and hour of so. A male redstart put in a brief appearance and we were sure there was another ring ouzel on the slopes, but couldn't pick it out. We also saw a few ravens and heard a distant cuckoo. Satisfied with a job well done, we capped the day off with a brief visit to Kenfig and Sker. Two whimbrel at Sker were added to the year list, and we saw plenty of whitethroats, but didn't get the lesser whitethroats. We also heard but did not see sedge warbler. A water rail at the South Pool Hide rounded the day off. The day takes me to 169 for the year. It was the end of July last year before I got to 170, so that's not bad. Shame I dipped the ringed plover at Titchwell!

1 comment:

Wayne said...


I got 170 by April end afterall.

My speadsheet did not include the lesser scaup that we got at the Ouse Washes.