Excitement in Fairwater

  1. At Birdies Lane, R Ely, a Dipper flew upstream, the first I’ve seen there for a while.
  2. A great deal of commotion at Fairwater Park as a passing Red Kite, about 20-30m above the car park,  was mobbed by Gulls, corvids and small birds. This is  a new bird for my records of this site (which go back a  long way) and is the 59th species I’ve recorded there.

These will be daily birds for some of you and I myself see them quite often in other places, but it certainly made my morning.


An enjoyable final Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) for the season on Janet’s square today included seeing a Cuckoo chased off by Meadow Pipits (while we were walking to survey start point), Redstart singing from an oak tree top (not sure I’ve seen that before), Tree Pipit, nesting Swallows and House Martins, various warblers etc.

We also had good views of a pair of cuckoos (and heard more) when doing BBS on my squares near Bedlinog on Friday, and were close enough to hear the female’s bubbling song. Also had Tree Pipit there.

Rest Bay-Sker-Kenfig dunes-Rest Bay

Good numbers of wheatears – my first for 2017 – this afternoon. Plenty of Willow Warblers and Whitethroat in the dunes (and lovely orchids). Usual suspects like Linnets, Oystercatchers, Turnstones.  On the way back, we saw three curlew type birds circling between the field at approx SS 794 794 and the coast (the tide was in). The jizz suggested Whimbrel and eventually I got close enough to the birds, which had now landed in the field, to distinguish the crown stripe and supercilium. I see three were reported here on 21st as well. There was at least one, possibly two, other curlew-whimbrel birds along the coast but we didn’t come to a conclusive conclusion on those.

Cardiff Bay House Martins

I did my annual survey of nesting HM in the Bay area this week. Preliminary results indicate a big drop in numbers, with one former colony having no nests at all.. However, I saw one pair just starting to build a nest in Windsor Quay and a second half-built nest looked like it was this years, although I didn’t see the adults. Are birds still arriving? Or maybe they lost a first nest. And are numbers down generally?

My survey covers Adventurers Quay, Penarth Marina, Grangemoor Court and Windsor Quay. If anyone knows of other nesting HM in the Bay area, please contact me or reply to this post.

Cwm Claisfer – Wood Warbler etc

Out of area, but recommended (once you’ve seen that squacco heron!), not that far. I hadn’t realised that it was a year to the day since the very enjoyable GBC trip to this delightful reserve near Llangynidr when we decided to visit today. We worked out a very nice circular walk, about 2.5 hours. Tree Pipits displaying near the parking point, the best close view of a singing Wood Warbler I can remember, Spotted Flycatchers, GS and Green Woodpeckers….

ID suggestions needed!

Can’t think what I just saw briefly, so suggestions, please. Driving at 09:45 on the A4119 from Creigiau turning south towards Llandaff, just before Pencoed House turning (approx ST093801), so trees around. Swooping in front of the car, slightly higher than car level is what looks like a small falcon, very pointy wings. Most distinctive feature is its apparently totally plain mid-brown back and wings which show well as it is slightly banking. My impression of the colour was the shade of a Song Thrush’s back or slightly darker, but not the reddish brown of a kestrel. No strong facial markings noted. It climbed steeply to land on a lamp post as I got level; unfortunately, there was a car not far behind and nowhere to stop. I’ve considered female Merlin but that’s so unlikely in May in that area, I discount. Rufous cuckoo – always had more obvious mottling or pattern when I’ve seen them (the road was fairly shaded, but the bird looked very plain indeed. Too small for female sparrow-hawk. Juvenile male sparrow-hawk would be a possibility but not in late May, a month too early. What have I overlooked?

Worth a trip to Ham Wall

I thought I’d recommend a trip over to RSPB Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath NR (Somerset) at present.

Among the 54 species we saw yesterday were Glossy Ibis, Male Ring-necked Duck, Male Garganey, GW Egret, plenty of displaying Marsh Harriers, and the longest flight by two bitterns I’ve ever seen (over 10 minutes ‘chase’). We also heard ‘booming’ bitterns intermittently

Plus a good range of warblers etc.

I was going to attach some record shots but can’t work out how to do it! It wasn’t a photographic trip, so here are just a couple of record shots.

Swallows at Canton

Just after finishing my BBS on ST1576, a group of birds flew low and fast over me (next to Ysgol Treganna). To my surprise, they were 20 or more swallows – heading SE. Then a pair of swans flew over, which would have been a first for the BBS. The last bird of the survey was a first – a drumming GSW on the far side of the R Ely (near Trelai Park & allotments).

Greater Cardiff Bay recently

Over the last few days, I’ve been repeating my survey of House Martin Nests around the Greater Cardiff Bay Area. The colony at Adventurer’s Quay has collapsed to just 3 nests, but my impression was that other sites seemed stable – I now need to analyse the data.

An intriguing sighting yesterday was of an Oystercatcher flying along vegetation on the South side of the Roath basin carrying what looked like food in its bill. Do they nest nearby?

Today I had a good, if brief, look at a Cettis W at the river edge behind Grangemoor Court. A Reed W was heard.

Peregrine over Fairwater!

I was so excited this afternoon as a Peregrine, first seen flying away, returned to spend some time patrolling and circling over my garden and neighbouring gardens and the school field. Luckily, I had binoculars to hand, and as it was pretty low I had excellent views against the clear blue sky; it was really well lit. If only I’d had a DSLR in the garden… but it’s one of my best garden ticks since I moved here in 1995.

Common Sandpiper in Canton, Cardiff!

At the end of a challenging Breeding Bird Survey visit to ST1576 (Victoria Park area – two sections of my transect are now gated and inaccessible) this morning, my very last bird was a Common Sandpiper – a major surprise and the only one I have ever seen in that square. The preparation works for the Wiggins Teape Ely Paper Mill site redevelopment have left a deep scrape about 225mx30m parallel to River Ely, which has filled with water.

I saw the bird fly across perhaps 100m from my end point (but in my square) and disappear behind some vegetation. I immediately thought it was CS, but slowly moved nearer till it reappeared on the muddy bank and I could see it well to confirm. By next year, this site will probably be housing, so I’ll probably will never see this bird on ST1576 again, unless by the Ely.

Aslo saw 1 sparrowhawk, 1 blackcap (gathering nesting material) and heard 1 chiffchaff. Other than that, the usual jackdaws, gulls, feral pigeons etc. Finches represented by only one goldfinch and one (heard) greenfinch, whereas there always used to be good numbers of each, plus chaffinches, wrens, dunnocks and robins, before their scrubby home was turned into a new school. Of course, the greenfinches have declined in general.

28 species in Fairwater Park, Cardiff (The Dell)

Headed up by a Kingfisher flying along the brook in brilliant sunshine, what a jewel. First I’ve seen here since 2006.

A Greenfinch calling was the first this year. They are now quite scarce in Fairwater – I only saw 2 in the Dell last year, none in 2013, 1 in 2012.

However, I am visiting more often now that I am retired, so the effort is not comparable.

Other than that a good selection of usual suspects, incl. Sparrowhawk, Goldcrest, 30+ Redwings, GSW, Nuthatch etc etc

River Taff

Walked both sides between Radyr and Cardiff Centre. Basically – usual suspects, but on a  gloriously bright day, enjoyable.

Highlights were 5 Goosander (1 male south of Blackweir, 2M, 2F North of Western Avenue, and 1 redhead in the Melingriffith outlet). Also at least 125 redwing around Pontcanna riding stables,  2 dippers (1 S of Blackweir, 1 N of Llandaff Weir), grey wagtails, herons. I was told about a kingfisher which I had just missed, just S of Western Ave bridge.

Seemed to be fewer LTT than usual at this time of year on this stretch, but I’ll need to analyse records – I counted every bird of every species today!