Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring's arrived...........

Last Saturday saw Teresa and myself entertaining friends Neil and Gail up at the caravan with the lads enjoying a pleasant hike up to the top of Sugar Loaf (a mountain "tick" for me) followed by a thoroughly enjoyable evening at Theater Brycheiniog in Brecon being royally entertained by world famous mountaineer Andy Kirkpatrick who had recently returned from climbing "El Cap" in Yosemite National Park with Alex Jones of BBC's "The One Show" in aid of Sport Relief.
Sunday dawned a beautiful Spring day and I arranged to meet friend and fellow "togger" Steve Wilce up at Cantref Reservoir for a spot of Osprey passage watching,I've seen five different birds there in the last two years but we had no such luck on this occasion.
We decided to cut our losses at about 11.30am and moved on to Craig Cerrig Gleisiad in the hope of catching up with a newly arrived Ring Ouzel.
It was reasonably quiet and we made our way about halfway along the main track,we scanned the scrub and cliff area for about 10 mins and finally heard the distinct "clucking" call of a Ring Ouzel but try as we might we couldn't get on to it.
We decided to call it a day and after walking about 80m back towards the top gate we again heard the call but this time lower down and it appeared as if the bird had waited for us to move on before dropping down to the base of the cliff.
We swiftly moved back up to our original position and I picked up a male bird in the top of a hawthorn and as we approached it dropped down amongst the rocks out of sight allowing us to make a closer approach.

The bird seemed quite settled feeding in the area moving between ground feeding and the hawthorn trees without coming really close and I managed a few "record" shots.
We settled down out of the sun in the shade of the cliff and the bird eventually moved down closer and gave itself up for a few better shots which I was quite pleased with...............
I thought that I had heard another bird calling and the bird that I had photographed flew past us and perched up in a tree near the small stream where it remained for a minute before flying out with another male bird in tow disappearing over the grassy humps and out of sight !!
We hadn't seen the other bird at all but then again we had been concentrating on the bird in the photographs.
After a stop for a bacon roll in one of the laybys on the A470 we headed for Llangors Lake and after a fruitless scan for the two Great White Egrets from Llangasty we called it a day.
After a slow start the morning developed into a "real good un",here's hoping that the rest of Spring is equally productive.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The start of the season............

Our first weekend up at the caravan gave me the opportunity of trying to catch up with the two Great White Egrets that have been wintering at Llangors Lake,one bird has wintered for the last few years but this winter it has been joined by a second bird.
Saturday was written off with travelling and setting up the caravan but I ventured out Sunday morning first checking the sailing club flooded meadow and the lake on the Llangors side before driving around to Llangasty.
The birds were nowhere to be seen on the Llangors side although a Little Egret flew across and landed out of sight,a distant Red Kite and a pair of Goosanders were the only birds of note although the lake was alive with a heavy passage of Sand Martins,my first of the year.
I found one of the GW Egrets on the flooded area viewing from the rear of the churchyard and I managed a few record shots before it flew further away down to the edge of the lake when it was joined by the second bird which wandered out into the open from the reedbed.
The birds seemed quite settled feeding and I thought I'd try my best "Mr Sneaky" impression and try and get a bit closer using the large hawthorn hedge between the flooded meadow and adjacent field for cover.
The plan worked really well until I got to the end of the hedge not 35yds from the birds and as soon as I moved slightly to get a clear shot both birds went up together,bugger !!
Both birds flew to the southern end of the lake dropping down beyond the wooded area out of sight,I waited 45 mins or so to see if they would return but decided that lunch was more appealing.
I walked back around to the car park to bump into Tim and Gill Hall and daughter Rosie who were making a flying visit,it's been a while since meeting up with Tim and we chatted for a for half an hour or so before saying goodbye and heading back to the caravan for lunch,what a nice surprise to end my morning out.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A well earned diver........

Teresa fancied a jaunt Sunday afternoon and being the really devious type I was able to convince her that she really would enjoy a visit to Cosmeston Country Park near Penarth.
I must be the only "togger" in Glamorgan who hadn't yet photographed the Black-throated Diver that had taken up residence on the lakes at "Cossie" and after settling Mrs S into the cafe in the visitor centre I did a circuit of the East lake which the bird has been favouring and where it had been reported from on Sunday morning,unfortunately for me despite several thorough scans it was nowhere to be seen.
I made my way to the West lake and after a few scans found the diver favoring the western bank mid-way along the lake,bugger,even more walking !!
I made my way around to the western side by which time the bird had made it's way a little further out from the shore and managed a few shots in the cold,grey soulless light,I had to crank the ISO up a little and play around with exposure compensation and at the end of the day the I may as well have shot in monochrome !!.............

"Going Cuckoo Down West"......

The lure of the Great Spotted Cuckoo at Penally,Tenby was too much especially after a phonecall late Friday evening from Alan Hughes and a quick chat with Peter "Pedro" Morgan,the 4.30am alarm presented no problem and I was up like the lark meeting up with the lads at 5.30am at Sarn,Junc 36 on the M4.
In no time at all and thanks to "Pedro's" local knowledge of Tenby we were soon pulling up in the small "Park and Ride" car park at Penally on the edge of the Tenby golf course at 7.00am.
We strolled across the course and joined the dozen or so other birders present two of which were Martin and Teifion Thomas who pointed out the bird in a bush some 60-70yards away.
The bird was quite active feeding and was very mobile,consequently it never came really close but I managed a few "record" shots.......

The bird was quite flighty and much to the disappointment of the assembled crowd flew off towards the wooded hillside of Giltar Point before thankfully returning a few minutes later.
As happens with cuckoos the bird was getting really harassed by other small birds and after an hour or so of watching it it flew once again across the golf course and settled in the wooded area of Giltar Point eventually flying over the sea and landing on nearby St Margaret's Island where according to Birdguides it remained until mid-afternoon before returning to the golf course.
We hung around until 10.15am in the hope that the bird would return and it would oblige by letting myself and "Pedro" get some closer shots but it was not to be and as we were all keen to get home for the rugby ("Pedro had a ticket for the match in Cardiff) we decided to call it a day and headed back east.
A cracking morning out in great company,a UK "tick" for myself (I've seen two in Portugal), "lifers" for both Alan and "Pedro", and to cap it all Wales pitched in with their best performance of the Six Nations with a convincing win over a hapless Scotland,happy days !!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Parc Slip NR

A few images from the last couple of weekends at Parc Slip NR,Tondu,Bridgend which has become something of a "local patch" for me...........
Not difficult to spot the difference in the weather on consecutive Sundays !!