Sunday, January 26, 2014

Kingfisher surprise..........

After an early start and day out with Wayne and Peter yesterday a bit of a lay-in was in order this morning and after the heavy morning rain had cleared I decided to head down to Parc Slip NR to try and get some some more photos of the Bittern.
I arrived at the scrape hide at 2.00pm to be greeted by old friend Colin Lloyd who departed at about 2.30pm tempted by his Sunday lunch and for the remainder of the afternoon I had the hide to myself.
There was no sign of the Bittern but ten minutes later a male Kingfisher flew in,the first that I have seen from the scrape hide.
He stayed for the entire time that I was there until I left at 4.50pm and caught several fish during that time but always went in to the bottom of the willow scrub to enjoy his meal,here are some of the pics that he obligingly posed for............

A day around Cardiff.........

It was good to meet up with Wayne when myself and Peter Morgan rocked up at the car park at Forest Fawr,Tongwynlais after Peter had picked me up at Sarn.
I'd had one previous search for the Hawfinches earlier in the year but with no luck and after about 10 minutes Wayne spotted one high up in the trees near Ton-Y-Bwlch Cottage from the top road,it hung about for 10mins and then flew off so we decided to go back down to the main track through Forest Ganol when after a while I spotted a large flock high in the trees.
They were quite mobile but Wayne did manage to make a count of seventeen different birds,photography was difficult to say the least with grim light and twigs and branches always in the way and disappointingly I could only manage some very poor "record" shots.

We saw the birds several times in the next hour or so and it looked as if the flock had split up into a few smaller groups and after a while we decided to move on to Cardiff Bay in search of the Black-necked Grebe.
We found the grebe off Windsor Quay just south of the A4232 road bridge and it showed well although a little too distantly for any really good photos and after a group of canoeists paddled past it quickly disappeared.
Wayne decided to depart and myself and Peter then crossed over to Penarth Marina where a change in the weather put paid to any hopes of catching up with the elusive Black Redstart,we moved on to Cosmeston Country Park hoping that the adult Bonaparte's Gull found in the morning may have returned but the weather was getting progressively worse and so we headed for home.
An enjoyable day out,good to catch up with both the Hawfinches and BNG and with patience and some decent weather it may be possible to get some much better photographs.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Llangors check up.........

Teresa and myself headed up to Llangors today to check on the caravan after the wet winter we have experienced so far,we normally go up over the Xmas holiday but with taking a break in Norfolk we didn't get around to it.
We called in at Llwyn-on Reservoir on our way,I was hoping to catch up with the Great Northern Diver which has been there for a few weeks but despite a good search I didn't connect,whether or not it has moved on or I just couldn't find it who knows.
We moved on to Llangors and as I walked across the very soggy common towards the "Troll Bridge" to view the sailing club meadow one of the two wintering Great White Egrets that I was looking for appeared from nowhere and flew over to land on the fields behind the outward bound centre,I managed no more than a few "record" flight shots.

I managed to gain access to the fields via the outward bound centre and after a bit of a search found the egret in a boggy area near the wooded edge of the lake but despite my best stealthy efforts I couldn't get close and the bird took flight and headed across the lake towards Llangasty.
A bit of a frustrating day to say the least but at least I got to see the GWE,after checking on the caravan we headed across to Llangasty where there was no further sign of the bird but I did bump into and chat to a birder from Blackwood who give me information on a site where I can hopefully get good close views and photographs of Goosanders,all is not lost !!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Llanilid + Burry Holms

Started Saturday early at Llanilid when I walked across to the owl field in the dark and got in position with my baghide by 07.30 in the hope of photographing Hen Harriers which are wintering in the area having seen two "ringtails" late pm on a previous visit.
At 08.00 a single "ringtail" appeared over the owl field but did not stay and moved off south-east,I stayed in position until 10.00 and then decided to move down to the south fenceline dispensing with the hide.
No sooner had I packed away the hide when another "ringtail" appeared from nowhere and perched up on the east fenceline allowing me a record shot,I would have been closer with the hide but not an awful lot closer so wasn't too disappointed.
I'd spoken with fellow "togger" Peter "Pedro" Morgan and met up at Sarn at 12.15 to head down to Burry Holms at the north of Llangennith beach hoping to connect with the few rare gulls discovered there in the last week or so.
We rolled up just before high tide greeted by some familier faces but dipped on the putative Thayer's Gull which had shown briefly before we arrived but got on to the juv Kumlien's Gull which was a "tick" for Peter.
Big thanks to Sid and Colin for the look through their 'scopes.
The viewing couldn't have been worse as the congregation of gulls was about 200m away and almost directly into the setting sun but I did manage a "record" shot of the Kumlien's Gull,it's the paler gull and the only sitting gull in the photograph.
Just around the corner from the island was a nice little cove housing Fulmars and Kittiwakes which were a little more obliging than the gulls and I was pleased to get some better photos although the strong sunlight made things tricky.
We finally gave up on the gulls and on the 25min walk back along the beach managed to connect with a Meadow Pipit and a couple of Sanderling nicely lit in the low,late afternoon setting sun.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Great Northern Diver at Llwyn-on

The recent holiday was a wash-out in terms of birding, but I did manage to squeeze a visit to our north between showers for the Great Northern Diver which had been around for a few days.

Having seen the bird of a few years ago actively feeding along the north east shoreline, I made a B-line for the car park there. A thorough scan of the water revealed the bird actively feeding on crayfish right in front of the shoreline where Dan and I watched the last bird, i.e. the north west.

Anyway, I offered my phone up to my scope and grabbed a few shots.  Not up to Grouse standards I'm afraid.

After a while I moved drove across to the other side of the reservoir, to find the diver relocated to where I'd come from and then move to the south of the reservoir.  It's very active. A Harris's Hawk put in a brief appearance too, much to the annoyance of the local crows.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

"Two go off to Norfolk"..........

With a full two weeks off work over Xmas/New Year I fancied utilizing some of the time by taking a break up in Norfolk and back at the end of last September managed to book a beautiful little one-bedroom cottage in Dersingham at a reasonable price for Teresa and myself (why do most others take the p... and double the price over main holidays ?!!).
This is the furthest east that I've ever stayed but it is ideally situated for Roydon Common,Wolferton,Snettisham,Holme,Hunstanton,Thornham and Titchwell.
We travelled up on Sat 28.Dec '13 and returned on Sat 4.Jan '14,in between Teresa let me get out with the camera on a few of the drier/sunnier days,here are some of the results.......

1. Snow Buntings (Flock of c50) : Gore Point,Holme NNR
2. Knot : Gore Point,Holme NNR
3. Pink-footed Goose : Holkham
4. Wigeon : Holkham
5. Red-legged Partridge : near Roydon Common
6. Grey Partridge : Hunstanton
7. Red Kite : Holkham (Pair flew over - unexpected sighting)
8. Black-tailed Godwit : RSPB Titchwell
9.Egyptian Geese : Flitcham (can't beat a bit of plastic !)
10. Lapwing : RSPB Titchwell
11. Hen Harrier (M+F) : Roydon Common (best place I visited all week and made 3 "roost" visits)
12. Redshank : Thornham
13. Barn Owl : Holme NNR (morning hunting bird,couldn't get close enough)
14. "Sunset" : Roydon Common

We had a great week even with a few wet days,Norfolk though doesn't seem to be what it used to be even in the relatively short time that I've been birding,Choseley Barns were devoid of anything and talking to other birders Corn Bunting is now extremely scarce.
Good numbers of Snow Buntings but very few Shore Larks and Twite,none at the usual haunt of Holkham Gap.
Encouragingly Tree Sparrows still at Flitcham with loads of Brambling as well,good numbers of Brent and PF Geese at Holkham and several other places.
The "highlight" of the week however was my visits to Roydon Common for the Hen Harrier roost,what a great place which has been very well managed,visit details as follows :-
1st visit : 1 Male,2 "Ringtails"
2nd visit : 3 Males,4 "Ringtails
3rd visit : 1 Male,5 "Ringtails"
Always distant but great views and not close enough unfortunately for any meaningful images.
Thoroughly enjoyed and I hope to repeat the visit at the same time later this year.