Saturday, September 25, 2010

Turtle Dove lll (and lV)

I went round to West Cross today about 10 a.m. to see if the Turtle Dove was still there. At first, there was no sign of it, so I walked off, and came back again. And there it was, just as tame as before, and allowing me to take a few more pictures:

It was so approachable that I was able to put three extension tubes on my 500mm lens, to enable it to focus closer, and focus in on the bird's amazing eye:

and then to remove my big lens and take a shot with my 17-40mm wideangle:

After a while, some dodgy-looking geezers from the Glamorgan Bird Club arrived to see and photograph the bird. Amazingly, they had just seen another Turtle Dove about a mile further along the bay at Blackpill, this time a juvenile, so we walked back down there and I was able to take a few snaps of it as it fed amonst the sand-dune vegetation:

After never having seen a Turtle Dove before, seeing two in one day was a bit special!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Turtle Dove II

On the off chance that the Turtle Dove might still be where it was yesterday, I headed round to West Cross around 5 p.m. I sat on a seat for half an hour, feeding the gulls to pass the time. I was about to leave, when an unfamiliar bird flew up from near the sea wall and into a tree to my left. A Jackdaw began harassing it, and it flew off into a small Sycamore tree behind me. 'It' was the Turtle Dove! I peered up into the tree, but couldn't locate the dove in the dense foliage, so I sat down again to wait. After a while, I began to get fed up, and was getting up to leave, when suddenly a brown bird flew rapidly close to the ground in front of me, and landed on the sea wall. Again, it was the Turtle Dove! I fired off a few shots:

The dove then dropped onto the grass verge between the wall and the cycle path only about a metre away, and proceeded to feed there in virtually the same spot for about thirty-five minutes, before flying up into a Sycamore tree. I spent the half-hour or so sitting on the grass opposite, taking photos, and filming it with my camcorder. It was amazing to watch this tiny bird feeding nonchalantly as joggers and cyclists thundered past just a few centimetres away! Even more amazing to me was that not a single other person noticed the dove, despite me sitting next to the path and pointing my huge bazooka of a lens in their general directions! How can people be so unobservant?! Anyway, a couple of pictures:

Hopefully, it will still be there tomorrow.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Turtle Dove

I took a late afternoon walk along Swansea seafront today. As I was nearing the West Cross Inn, heading towards Swansea, I looked to my left and saw a medium-sized brown bird flying out of the trees towards me. Its colour made me at first think it was a Kestrel swooping on its prey, but, as it came nearer - and almost having to swerve to avoid me - I realised it was a dove. I turned round as it flew past me, and saw it land on the sea wall about ten yards away. It was unmistakably a Turtle Dove, and the first one I'd seen - they are quite rare in Wales. The bird was probably quite exhausted, and just sat in one place for about five minutes, occasionally drinking from a small pool of water that had accumulated on the wall, while joggers and cyclists hurtled past about five metres away. I sat on a seat ten to fifteen yards from it, watching it through binoculars, all the while cursing myself that I had not brought my camera with me to capture it as it sat posing in the sunshine. Eventually, a dog came too close, and the dove flew off into a small pine tree by the nearby pub. I watched it for a couple more minutes, before looking away for a second. When I looked back, it had gone; and a short search could not relocate it. As I continued my walk towards Blackpill, I suddenly realised I'd had my camcorder with me; in fact, it had been on the seat beside me, and I'd been so intent on watching this creature, that I'd forgotten to capture any record of it. Argh!
Continuing onwards, the sky developed some lovely 'Turneresque' clouds, which were reflected beautifully in the high tide in the bay. Why is it that, whenever I leave my camera at home, the birds are many and numerous, and the sunsets glorious? (And when I take it with me, everything is dull and grey?) Sod's Law!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Early on Monday evening, I went for a couple of hours to Kidwelly, a small town in west Wales, between Llanelli and Carmarthen. I first went down to Kidwelly Quay, where the River Gwendraeth flows into the Burry Inlet. It was high tide, so the mudflats were covered, and the usually-present wading birds were conspicuous by their absence. This was the scene that greeted me as I looked directly into the sun across the estuary:

A pipit landed on the wall quite nearby:

I noticed another fellow pointing his lens towards some old farm outbuildings, so I went over to see what he was photographing. There was a small group of young Swallows, which presumably had nested close by, perched on the ruins. They allowed a close approach for some pictures:

I then walked the short distance up into the town, and crossed over the river and looked back towards the estuary into the low sun:

I came upon this small reedbed:

I spotted these knapweed seedheads, and photographed them against the sunset with my 500mm lens:

This intriguing small plant was growing in a meadow, and I put my 500mm 'macro' lens into action on it:

Finally, as the sun set and the moon rose, I was able to photograph the lunar light behind these Lombardy Poplar trees:

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Yesterday, I made the short rip round to Mumbles, a small settlement at the far western end of Swansea Bay. I had heard that Grey Seals had been seen hauling themselves up onto rocks at Limeslade Bay, so this was my first port of call:

Unfortunately, there were no seals to be seen, so I walked only a few yards to the adjacent bay, Bracelet Bay:

This is a good spot for Black-headed Gulls and the mucher rarer Mediterranean Gulls. Here is a juvenile Mediterranean Gull:

Note that the Med. Gull has a much thicker and more downturned bill than the more slender beak of this adult Black-headed Gull:

I then made a brief visit to Mumbles Pier:

There were very few birds remaining at the Kittiwake colony, this juvenile being the most confiding:

It seemed to spend most of its time alternately preening:

and resting:

and occasionally calling:

This adult bird was the only other Kittiwake on this once-crowded ledge:

This pair of pigeons had taken over the area vacated by Kittiwakes:

I walked along to the end of the pier, where the only other people were a few fishermen, and spotted this auk floating below on the sea (Is it a juvenile Razorbill?):

As I was leaving, I spotted this Great Black-backed Gull perched atop a post. I had to stop for a few pictures, as I hadn't photographed this species satisfactorily before, always finding them a bit skittish:

I was surprised how close this bird allowed me to approach:

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Roath Park

On Tuesday, September 7th, I was visiting a friend near Cardiff, so decided to pay a visit to Roath Park whilst in the area. The park, which is owned by Cardiff County Council and is situated in a pleasant suburban area of Wales's capital city, is dominated by a large lake which is a haven to all kinds of birdlife:

If you look closely at this picture, you will see the Scott Memorial Lighthouse, which commemorates R. F. Scott's antarctic voyage of 1910 (see also my previous post):

As I arrived at one end of the park, I saw a Kingfisher whizz along the edge of the four small islands in this wilder end of the lake.
Some tall trees situated on one of these islands have become roosting sites for Cormorants:

From this vantage point, they launch off to look for lunch in the lake below:

Mallards, such as this eclipse-plumage male, are one of the lake's commonest birds:

As are the elegant Mute Swans:

There is also a group of feral, free-flying, Greylag Geese:

Some of the many gulls include this winter-plumaged Black-headed Gull:

And this juvenile Herring Gull:

This Coot:

was closely followed by its offspring:

Soon after I arrived in the park, I spotted a pair of Great Crested Grebes with three young, but they were too far out from the shore for any decent photos. However, as I continued along the shore, I saw a small group of these lovely birds, consisting of two adults and five young, sheltering under an overhanging Weeping Willow tree. Here's one of the adults:

And one yawning:

A couple of shots of the delightful youngsters:

Again, this adult was too close to fit completely into the frame:

A shaft of sunlight catches an adult's face, as it tends to its baby:

The dappled light made getting an even exposure quite difficult, so I decided to try a burst of fill-in flash for this picture:

I then began walking back from whence I had come, stopping for this wideangle shot of this approachable Greylag Goose:

Finally, as I neared the islands where I had started, I spotted the original Great Crested Grebes I had seen when I arrived, this time closer to the shore. I had time for this one shot, before heading off:

Definitely a place I must return to soon!