Wood Street bridge, Cardiff

Two slightly surprising observations as we walked across Wood Street bridge yesterday afternoon after the rugby*.

Three Goosander were on the Taff, a sight I expect more in winter.

Then I noticed some small greenish birds flying across the Taff which looked like Siskins. I was doubting my tentative conclusion, as the habitat and ultra-urban location seemed wrong, but then realised that there were more birds in the trees alongside the pavement. These were calling and even singing, and I was able to confirm the identification.

* Not a great game, but nice to be at one at all after all this time.

Migrants arriving

While surveying for BTO’s Breeding bird survey in the Bedlinog-Treharris area today, we saw 5 Swallows and heard at least 2 Blackcaps and multiple Chiffchaffs. A group of 6 Pied (or White) Wagtails seemed to be flying through on passage.

Nothing unusual noted in the resident birds, but a group of 4 Bullfinches was a pleasure, and a Wren singing lustily at eye level allowed us to get surprisingly close. Multiple Stonechats seen, including two singing males. Overall, there seemed to be fewer birds about than usual, although conditions seemed very good. Meadow Pipits and Skylarks seemed fewer than expected but, after missing 2020, my memory may be incorrect and I haven’t made a formal analysis yet.

Fairwatee to St Fagans

A Dipper on the Ely. 4 Bullfinches. 2 Ravens. Many male birds singing, and some courtship displays seen, including a precarious attempt on a wobbly TV aerial by a pair of collared doves. A Crow attacking a Buzzard was another indication that nesting season is arriving.

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River Taff walk, Cardiff

The only Goosanders seen between Llandaff and the City Centre were a M-F pair downstream of the Millennium Footbridge. A Chiffchaff was seen calling near the (closed) Bute Park café.

At the Pontcanna Stables, there was noisy work being done on the road and therefore much disturbance of any birds that were in the area. I managed to count 15 Redwing there. Likely more on a quieter day.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming repeatedly near the river.

At least 110 Carrion Crows were coming to bread on Pontcanna Fields.

Pretty much the usual common suspects apart from the above. Very few Long-tailed Tits were seen compared to the numbers usually seen at this time of year, and the only concentration of gulls was c35 BHG above Llandaff Weir.

Fairwater Park, Cardiff

The highlight was a Little Egret. This had been reported there for some time. It had the long ‘aigrettes’ breeding plumage feathers on its breast, which seems early. I couldn’t see it’s nape (it was in a tree).

6+ Mistle Thrushes were feeding on berries with a small no. of Redwings, a Song Thrush and many Blackbirds. Woodpigeons were also enjoying the crop. I was able to get close to a pair of Treecreepers, some Goldcrests and 2 Jays. There was a good selection of other typical park birds, including a GS Woodpecker.

The park used to be good for finches – always lots of chaffinches and greenfinches and, particularly in winter, several pairs of bullfinches. I looked hard for any finches, and, at the very end of my visit, I found 2 female Chaffinches (and that’s two more than on most recent visits). The park hasn’t changed. A sad decline.


Also AWOL there and from Fairwater Green or the nearby school buildings and fields were Black-headed Gulls. I’ve lived here for 25 years and there is always a winter flock of BHGs in the area, numbering around 20-25 on average. This year, I’ve only seen one or occasionally two here. On most days there are none. I hope this is just some very local phenomenon, but there was only one seen on a walk along the Taff last week.

Redwings at Creigiau

At around 8am there were c60 Redwings in the field behind Janet’s house and nearby trees – the most I’ve seen this autumn. Another group, perhaps 40 or more, flew over high and the ones behind the house all took off to fly in the same direction. Perhaps the group passing over were calling. I was excited to see so many of these beautiful birds fairly close up.

Apologies if this is rather trivial but this is a test post to check I can post here again, after a period of issues with my WordPress account. The new (to me) editor seems to be OK, but I’ve failed to add an image here (either ‘featured’ or ‘inline’), and I tried several including small file sizes.

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.

Llwydcoed

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).