Highlights from yesterday evening and this morning (in the company of EAH JNE RHAT & PS at different times) included 2 Great White Egrets, Wheatear, Swallows, Sand Martins, 258 D-b Brent, 1 P-b Brent, 17 RBMergs, 3 Slavs (2 now full s/p), 130 Golden Plover, 58 Curlew, Med Gull, 5 SEOwls, Barn Owl, Kite, Peregrine, Marsh Harrier & Hen Harrier. Regarding the latter Ed mentioned to me a day or two back it thought it was a bit hudsonicus-like, which I must confess after looking back at some ropey video I managed to get this morning, I can see his point. I don’t think it’s colourful enough to warrant a genuine claim, but it’s certainly worth a closer look and if anyone happens to have/get any images of the Llanrhidian Hen Harriers from recent weeks (especially any showing the underparts and/or underwing well), I’d be very interested to see them. Today’s bird looked very plain below though not especially rich buff, but did have a moderately distinct boa. I’ll add a video grab later though it won’t convince anyone.
Good count of 6 Great Northern Divers feeding off the Lighthouse scar today, also 1638 Oystecatchers, 33 Eiders, 701 D-b Brents, 2P-b’s, 3 R-b Mergs, 550 Herring Gulls, 80 Knot, 360 Dunlin, etc. We bumped into Ian Tew near the lodge who had just seen a Firecrest.
A Little Stint was with the Dunlin flock (c.2500) first thing just by the mounds (SS504939), the very big tide pushing birds right up, on what was a lovely calm and bright day for a change. Other counts for this section of the estuary included 463 D-b Brents (virtually no juvs this year), 2 Slavonian Grebes, 9 R-b Mergansers and 1 Great White Egret. Also 1000’s of Oycs and 100’of Pintail, Knot, Curlew, Lapwing, Shelduck, etc. which I never counted, all producing a fine spectacle. Yesterday morning at the Crofty triangular marsh (SS524951) there was a Water Pipit and a Green Sandpiper.
There were 15 Kittiwakes hanging around on the south side of the bridge shortly after first light. I suspect they headed inland as although they were mostly on the water, they were flighty and kept going up high and suddenly disappeared with no sign of them heading down the estuary. This is only the second 2-figure count I’ve had at the bridge, but is well short of the 82 I saw there on 19-Mar-1991. Also there was a Great Northern Diver just off Loughor Yacht Club, which is the first I have ever seen above the bridge – a day for checking inland waters perhaps?
I’ll be presenting the Gower Bird Quiz at Swansea Env Centre tonight at 7:30 – friendly questions suitable for all levels of experience. All welcome. £1 entry
Despite recent sightings of up to 8 Great Northern Divers, I couldn’t find one today. However, the male Snow Bunting was showing well and a Purple Sandpiper was a pleasant surprise. Counts at the point included 125 Turnstone, 2572 Oystercatcher, 313 shelduck, 27 Eider, 4 Pale-bellied & 324 Dark-bellied Brents. There were a further 2 Pale-bellied & 490 Dark-bellied Brents at Pwll-y-Froga.
There were 3 Great Northern Divers together off Dalton’s Point first thing. I watched them for just a couple of minutes before they took off and headed out towards the lighthouse. It was 2010 since I last saw one this far up the estuary, so 3 was a bonus.Lots of Rock Pipits seem to have arrived in the last week or so, with a dozen or more at Pwll-y-froga alone this morning, including some well marked, pale-looking ones. Also a very good count of Shovelers first thing with 398 just off Salthouse. Last Thursday there was a Dipper under the railway bridge at Island House (i.e. the east end of the estuary).
3 GNDivers, 1 Red-throated Diver, 3 Slavs & 650 D-b Brents were at Whiteford today. Don’t forget it’s Gower birding highlights of 2015 tomorrow night following the short AGM at the Environment Centre, starting 7:30 prompt (£1 entry)
I’ve always hoped of finding a Wryneck in Gower, imagining the best place to look would be along the coast path towards Rhossili. So a chance encounter at 16:20 today on the east end of Cefn Bryn whilst looking for mosses was totally unexpected. The bird showed really well for the 5 mins or so I was there at SS52618889. Park just before the fork in the track and the bushes where the bird was showing are those in the fork of the V.
PS. There are some nice patches of Ciliated Fringewort which are worth looking out for too 😉
Quite a bit of raptor activity this afternoon during a stroll along Marsh Road, birds seen circling over the marsh included 6+ Buzzards, 2 Marsh Harriers, 1 Red Kite, 1 Sparrowhawk and 1 Kestrel. Also noted were a nice pair of sun-dogs, an inverted sun-bow [Circumzenith Arc sounds a bit fancier and apparently is the correct name], a vet and a geography teacher.
Aerial activity was very evident today, a Goshawk joining a flock of 26 Ravens tumbling about in a thermal providing two unusual sightings for this site. Buzzards were also evident in the sky along with ant-eating gulls, mostly Black-heads, 479 being counted in this section of the Burry. Little Egrets appear to have increased suddenly, 95 being visible from the bridge alone. Yesterday evening one of the two juvenile Marsh Harriers seen last week was still busy hunting over the saltmarsh (photo here) at Llanrhidian, where counts have included 158 Teal & 117 Greylags. However, it is Penclacwydd that is providing the best wader watching at present, with counts when we were there yesterday including Black-tailed Godwit 584, Knot 537, Greenshank 48, Redshank 213 and Spot-shank 2, though I know Wendell has had bigger counts for most species.
A juv Marsh Harrier was busy over the marsh today, at one point being chased by a Heron.
This evening’s mass emergence of flying ants produced a big fall-out onto the estuary, so flycatching wasn’t a feature of the event; gulls were simply picking them off the mudflats and the surface of the water. There were truely incredible numbers of these insects, more than I can ever remember. Counts from the section of estuary just around the bridge included 2,042 Black-headed Gulls, 1 Med, 3 Yellow-leggeds, 1 Common, 231 Lesser B-b, 2 Great B-b, 134 Herring and 6 Common Sands.
The HT roost at Pwll-y-froga (SS5294) is worth checking at the moment as it seems to be the new Med Gull hot-spot with 61 there this morning. This is the highest number I have ever seen on the south side of the Burry (NB. 7 more were seen at Wernffrwd at the same time RHAT & PS). The Pwll-y-froga roost also had 103 Common Gulls (these usually build up to around 500 by the beginning of August at this site), 1221 Black-heads, 167 Herrings and a few Lesser and Great Black-backs. A few waders are also starting to trickle through, with 2 Common Sands, 7 Whimbrel, 7 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank, c500 Curlew and c700 Oystercatcher. Rob & Peter also saw a Common Tern at Wernffrwd.
A dark phase Arctic Skua was off Dalton’s Point for 40 mins on this morning’s tide along with a couple of Sandwich Tern and a new brood of Shelduck.
Adult summer Little Gull present mid-afternoon, mostly resting, but also seen feeding by the sewer outlet for 5 minutes.
Uncropped video-grab (perhaps a still would have been just as poor!). I presumably this is the long-stayer that’s been regular at Penclacwydd all month, finally making its way into Glamorgan.
There was a Cetti’s in full song, high on the Bracken slopes between two blocks of Ash woodland on north Gower this evening. Whilst only 200m from the usual reedbed habitat, it was nevertheless quite exceptional.
Adult summer Bonaparte’s Gull watched for 5 minutes before flying out to estuary – worth checking the Black-headed Gull flocks anywhere in the estuary. Also a Great White Egret new in, based bare part colour and the last date for the two wintering birds being 22nd April. 80+ Swifts a good count here.
Pale-bellied Brent 1, Grey Plover 1, Dunlin 1, Whimbrel 70, Curlew 5, Med Gull 1, Common Tern 1, Sandwich Tern 1, Swift 5, Greenland Wheatear 13, Reed Bunting 7+ territorial males.