Thursday, September 02, 2010

Things can only get better

With Mrs JJ back at work, teenage daughter Gwenni preferring to be . . . well, a teenager - happy enough enjoying some peace and quiet 'home alone' without her little brother, it was time for Geth and me to get out and do some birding after the summer lull.

On Aug 27th Geth went out early to his 'patch' around the Glamorgan Canal/Forest Farm and struck lucky with a Pied Flycatcher in a tree beside the River Taff just below Tongwynlais. A new 'patch tick' and no. 72 for his patch year list. I was duly gripped off good and proper for not getting out of bed at the crack of dawn to go with him.

Cashing in on what appeared to be the beginning of a streak of good luck we decided to go to Whiteford Point, Gower on the last day of August. The Point had turned up some really good Glamorgan birds two days previously, including a Lapland Bunting, Ruff, Wood and Curlew Sandpiper. Our hopes were high and thing started very well when, at 7am, we got on to an Osprey on a post at Wernffrwd.

Photography at its best - another classic for the Birders in Boxers Gallery

20 minutes later we were heading out towards Whiteford. The trees and bushes were alive with small birds flitting around and calling: Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs, all four common Tits, Treecreepers, Nutchatches, Goldfinches, Linnets, Bullfinches and Siskin, while Tree Pipits 'spihz'd' overhead.

That was the easy bit. Over the next two hours until high tide we scoped every inch of beach, saltmarsh and mudflat. Having spent many a winter's day out at the Point enduring strong, freezing cold winds and horizontal rain, it made a very pleasant change to be out there in such good weather. It was beautiful out there.

Whiteford Point in all its scenic splendour. Note the lack of any birds.

But, let's be honest, the weather was too good for anything decent to turn up/hang about. There were shedloads of Oystercatchers around but we had to work hard for everything else. We ended the day with 3 Knot, 1 Grey Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 4 Sanderling and around 30 Dunlin and 40 Ringed Plovers. Geth got onto some Terns on the other side of the Burry Inlet but the sheer distance and heat haze prevented us from positively ID'ing them. A couple of Pintail and Wigeon amongst the channels on the saltmarsh were also an early indication that autumn is upon us.

The Twitchmeister trying his level best to pick out a 'goody'.

By the way, if you're heading out to Whiteford before long and planning to eat your sarnies in the hide, think again. It's Pooville U.S.A. in there. Some Swallows have nested inside and pebble-dashed all the walls, seats and shelves. Now I know small birds crap a lot but this lot appeared to have been suffering from dyssentry.

The Swallow latrine at Whiteford.

We called it a day at 2pm and headed home. Logging on to the computer on our return we were gutted to find out that we'd driven past 3 Ruff at Kenfig Pool on our journey back to Cardiff.

Family commitments prevented an early start the following day, but we made it to Kenfig by 9.25am only to be told that the single Ruff that had remained from the previous day had been flushed 10 minutes earlier by a dog walker. Nevertheless, we scoured the East Pool Shore only to draw a blank. Snarling at every dog walker on the way back to the car we headed towards the Ogmore Estuary. We were greeted there by scores of fishermen and horse riders who'd flushed everything apart from the Canada Geese. The Boy Birder was in a BAD mood and I wasn't much better.

Next stop, back east: Llanishen and Lisvane Reservoirs. Llanishen has been drained and the exposed mud will surely attract something decent before too long. We did manage to find 5 Greenshank and 3 Ringed Plovers, but nothing more exciting than that. The birding is hardly enjoyable there as you have to spend you're whole time peering through the slats in a six foot metal fence which are all just that bit narrower than your 'scope.

With time on our hands we decided to go Goldcliff. Our arrival coincided with that of the farmer and his tractor who appeared to be spraying weedkiller around the perimeter fence on the sea-wall side and flushing everything in sight!!! What the . . . .?!

As Geth so succinctedly put it: "Flipping Farmers, Fishermen and Fences!" I could add another couple of "F's" to that list, but I'd better not.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

You really nailed that Osprey Dan,definately a candidate for the front cover of this month's "Osprey News".