Sunday, December 31, 2006

Rain Stops Play ....

The weather over the last few days put paid to any notion of getting any birding done. I had hoped to squeeze a few more ticks out, most notably crossbill and white-fronted goose, but my north Gower trip with Dan on Thursday was the last time binoculars were raised by me. Highlights this year were many, and include black-throated thushes, lekking black grouse, shore larks, female Montague's harrier and Norfolk despite dipping on speciality birds on both trips. I also got three new gulls for me this year - glaucous, Sabines's and Franklin's and some nice new waders too - dotterels, semipalmated, buff-breasted and least. My final total for 2006 is 222. A nice round number that would see umpire Shepherd hopping with delight!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


After an overnight drive to Norfolk it was the first bird we saw when we piled out of the car at dawn. But, as you will know (as I've been banging on about it for a while) I've been having a bit of Barney Trouble this year in Glamorgan. But, I'm glad to say that this 'owlin' gap in my county year list has been filled. Thanks to the efforts of Trapper Tim, who recced the secret location (just east of the River Rumney) to make sure the bird in question was still there, I managed to finally connect with a Barn Owl this evening. Better still, I managed to grip off Gethin (who'd opted instead to stay in front of the telly watching Bedknobs & Broomsticks for goodness' sake) when I returned home. You should have seen his face! A word of warning to you all - Geth has announced that he intends to do a bit of year listing next year. God help me! Whiteford here I come on Thursday. I'll let you know how I get on.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

One day soon....

One day soon, I may attempt to work out my year list from memory. I honestly haven't kept notes. I know I've missed lots of fairly easy ones: Barwit, Gropper, Garden Warbler, Merlin, Eider, Slav, Razorbill, Puffin spring to mind. Equally, I've seen some good rarities: Black Throated Thrush, Semi P, Little Auk, Montys, G O bird etc So who knows, or indeed cares....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

200 Up

The wind was considerably less strong today but, nonetheless, a seawatch off Porthcawl this morning still produced at least 18 Leach's Petrel and 4 Common Scoter. The Leach's was duly added to my East Glamorgan Year List - the Eglwys Nunydd birds already ensured that I had them on my Glamorgan Year List. I'm embarassed to say that my 200th species of bird this year was a Mandarin Duck at Margam. (What?! Everybody else ticks them!!). A quick visit to The Knapp in Barry provided me with yet another East Glam year tick. A Razorbill. As I arrived at the lake it started pouring down with rain and I legged it to the public shelter. I scanned the lake but there was no sign of the auk. I started to walk back to the car and there, perched on the side of the path busy preening itself, was the Razorbill. I must have run within a couple of feet of it on the way to the shelter!! It was completely unconcerned by my presence and I'm glad to say it looked in good shape. Hopefully it'll make its way back to sea unharmed. Year list: 200, Glam Year List: 178, East Glam Year List: 174

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Petrel fuels my enthusiasm

Thanks to Dan for a text this morning regarding a Leach's Storm-Petrel at Eglwys. Before I set off, 2 were reported. Only having seen them once, over 5 years ago, from Strumble Head, this seemed a good opportunity to see them again. I arrived at a very windy reservior and soon found some birders looking towards the water. As I jumped out of my car, their attention was turned skywards. As I looked up, a petrel flew fairly low, and mostly backwards, towards the motorway, and disappeared over it. I was told that there was another one further down, and a 3rd bird had been taken into care. I soon found people watching the other bird, close in and very active. Attempts to photograph it produced nice close-ups of waves, and the scope was useless as the bird was too close, and too fast. Good views were had of the pale wing markings, and the white rump. After being harrassed by gulls, the bird flew further away, and then fast right, and was lost to view. With my hands aching in the cold wind, I drove up to Margam Park to see if one had got there. No sign, but Dan's Mandarin showed well. Apologies to Jeff. Apparently I drove straight past him at Eglwys, focussed on getting to the birds, and missed him!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Once Bittern....

Flushed with Thursday's success, I popped back to Kenfig after finishing work on Friday lunchtime. Within a few minutes of me reaching the trees near the Arthur Morgan hide, the Yellow Browed Warbler showed well. I called Glyn Roberts over, and we enjoyed the bird for about 5 minutes. I headed behind the hide to the west of the pool, and within a few minutes, a Short Eared Owl flew towards me, only turning back when it was about 30 feet away. I climbed a small dune and it showed briefly again soon after. Glyn joined me, but the bird didn't show again soon, so I headed for the hide for the last hour or so of daylight. Water Rails showed every few minutes in the cut channel to the left of the hide and Starlings came to roost in large numbers. At 4.15, as darkness closed in, I was thinking of packing up, as I watched another Water Rail through the scope, when I realised that it was being towered over by something much bigger, stripy and brown. The Bittern stayed still for several minutes, and I attempted to digiscope it, with shutter speeds from 1/15 sec to 0.3 sec. The results are terrible! After a few minutes, it crossed the channel and disappeared into the reeds. As I folded my tripod away, a Fox wandered around on the grass immediately to the left of the hide, and when it had gone, I left, after a splendid afternoon out.