I visited Cosmeston yesterday for the first time properly and even in the stingy, wet weather managed to have a fairly productive session and I even met some other friendly watchers (distanced of course) who gave me some helpful tips. I saw 1 peregrine flying overhead, 1 buzzard being mobbed by crows, 4 great crested grebe, 2 little grebes, heard one green woodpecker overhead, 2 goldcrest, 27 tufted ducks, 1 pochard, 31 redwing and 16 goldfinches.
I started the day visiting the Boverton Seawatch Centre where I saw a lone barnacle goose in a field. On the cycle back I spotted some large flocks of linnet – 40-50, mixed with about 15 pied wagtails on the roof of a barn. The fence below the barn was scattered with 6 meadow pipits. Other sightings here included 1 kestrel, 2 buzzards, 30-35 goldfinches.
I later arrived at Llantwit beach hoping to get some more views of an obliging golden plover I had seen last weekend. The tide was in so instead I took a walk along the coast path towards St Donats. Here I had a nice view of a female common scoter which was heading from Llantwit towards St Donats at impressive speed. It took me a minute to make the ID as I don’t think I’ve ever seen one locally before. It would be interesting to know whether anyone else has seen one this year in the Vale and whether they’re regular visitors on this part of the coast.
Spotted a little owl on a wall at 5 in the afternoon opposite the three golden cups pub. I suspect it is probably lives in the barn close by. I’m hoping that it doesn’t decide to make use of the abundant cattle water troughs as I have found deceased barn owls who have made use of these troughs on more than one occasion this year (both in the same trough!) nearby another occupied barn in Southerndown. I’ve read that it is quite simple to prevent this from happening by fitting a steel mesh a couple of inches below the surface of the water. I wonder whether it would be possible to ask the relevant farmers in Southerndown if they would allow this to be done for them as it would might prevent a lot of owl deaths in the long-term.
On my way to my favourite birdwatching location by the river thaw in Llandough, I spotted a total of 5 bullfinches jumping in and out of the hedgerows. Shortly after getting off my bike in Llandough, 4 green woodpeckers including two juveniles, flew across a field into a tree right next to me – a welcome surprise after not seeing this species for some time.
After a short walk I saw 3 buzzards in a territorial dispute right above me. They shortly dispersed probably due to the constant mobbing of house martins which were present in great numbers. Remarkably, this wasn’t the only species of raptor I saw today as I also spotted a red kite heading towards Cowbridge.
Before leaving, I heard the resident male kingfisher calling repeatedly nearby. To make up for the fact that the kingfisher didn’t show himself, I saw a pair of spotted flycatchers catching insects which were flying over the river.
Since I finished building a large pond in my garden 5 weeks ago I’ve seen an explosion in nature including some fantastic bird life.
After just a couple of days of completion we had song thrushes, a family of magpies, countless dunnocks, blackbirds, a willow warbler, a chiffchaff and many more regularly bathing in the pond. We also had a young heron visit who prompted me to stock the pond (which is well oxygenated) with minnows and sticklebacks. Whilst catching these fish for the pond I had some amazing views of a Daubenton’s bat which provided me with some great photo opportunities.
A couple of weeks ago a pair of Great spotted woodpeckers became regular visitors to the feeders. Since the garden pond is also equipped with a wildlife hide, I’ve been able to watch the woodpeckers and other wildlife from very close range without disturbing them.
I’ve had a fantastic couple of days watching a pair of peregrine falcons on the heritage coast tending to their nest. Yesterday I had a fantastic view of one of the parents catching a pigeon, taking it back to the cliff to have his share, then hand it over (in flight!) to the female who brought it back into the nest. They are extremely vocal and it is not often that the nest site isn’t occupied by at least one parent. It has taken me a couple of weeks to locate the nest after following peregrines around but of course I will not be sharing the actual location for obvious reasons.
Three ravens, who were until very recently still being fed by their parents in the nest, have finally fledged but are sticking together as a group of three. They are very inquisitive and will walk up fairly close to me if I sit still on the ground. They are truly fascinating to watch.
I first saw this bizarre looking female albino pheasant in late December. Then I recorded it a of couple of times on trail cameras in late April and have now regularly see it walking in a field, now in the company of a mate. I’m quite surprised it’s survived this long as it stands out from a mile away. On the subject of strangely pigmented birds, on way to Llandough from St Mary Church I almost always see a leucistic male blackbird which has an almost completely bald head. It is usually singing from the hedge or telegraph pole in plain sight.