Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Parrot and Two Goldfinches

This is the entry for yesterday, Saturday, 27th March.

About 8 a.m., I walked down through Singleton Park, Swansea, towards the Ornamental Gardens. As I was about to turn into the wooded area on the left, as I often do to feed the local birds, I was greeted by a fearful screeching sound, like a Jay on helium. I was unable to locate the source of the racket, until I saw an unknown bird shoot over my head, over the footpath, and towards the main part of the Ornamental Gardens. I proceeded to feed the local small birds (some of which are hand-tame, especially the Great Tits) with peanuts, before the mystery bird returned and perched in the top of a nearby tree. It was a male Ring-necked (or Rose-ringed) Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)! It flew out and back two or three times during the ten to fifteen minutes I was there, but I was unable to entice it down to some peanuts I threw on the ground for it. I've never seen one before, so it would be nice if it hung around for a while to allow me to get some pictures of it. Anyhow, I did manage the following picture of it before I went on my way:

After this little bit of ornithological excitement, I walked down towards the bottom of Singleton Park, checking the field on the right for any signs of lingering Redwings, as this is usually the last place I see them before their Springtime migration Northwards. Last Sunday, I had seen 19 or 20 here, but today there were none, so I guess that is the last I shall see of these lovely Northern thrushes for this year.

I then continued my walk along the seafront, through Blackpill, and along to West Cross, where I have had a little project attempting to photograph Goldfinches this past Winter.

It started before Christmas, when I noticed some reasonably approachable Goldfinches feeding on weed seeds at the top of the dunes, and I wondered how I could keep them in the area so I could photograph these beautiful birds for the first time. I found some Teasels some way away (Llansamlet!), and brought them over and fixed them with stakes into the dunes, where I have proceeded to top them up with Niger seed every couple of days ever since. Eventually, after a few weeks, I managed to attract a flock of six birds, and then the biggest group yet - ten. Along the way, I've managed a few decent shots, although recently it seems as though numbers have declined, and I thought maybe the birds had deserted the area for their breeding territories. However, I saw a couple of birds on the Teasels a few days back, so decided to keep stocking up the seedheads. I'm glad I did, as today I was rewarded with a visit by two Goldfinches, enabling me to get a few pictures, including this one:

Before I knew it, it was 4 p.m., and it was now high tide as I walked back home past Blackpill. There didn't seem to be many birds there, and I was about to walk on, when I noticed a flock of medium-sized brown waders flying just off offshore, occasionally alightly tentatively to land, before immediately taking flight again. There must have been 50-60 birds, which a closer look revealed were Bar-tailed Godwits. After watching them wheel around over the bay for a few minutes, they disappeared out of sight, and it was time to wend my weary way home. The Godwits didn't really come close enough for any really good shots, but I managed a few flight shots with my Canon 7D and Sigma 500mm f/4.5 lens - including this one, which has been cropped a bit:

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