Monday, March 28, 2011

Severn Bridge Sunset

Late Thursday afternoon, I decided to head over to Severn Beach, a small town on the English side of the Severn Estuary that divides England and Wales. I had heard that a couple of Short-eared Owls had been showing quite well somewhere in the area, at somewhere called Aust Warth. I wasn't quite sure where this place was, but thought a walk along the estuary in the sunshine might be nice, even if I didn't see my quarry.
As it turned out, Aust Warth was about an hour-and-half's walk from where I started out by the second Severn Bridge - closer, in fact, to the old Severn Bridge. By the time I reached my destination, it was time to walk back. I did see several people watching the area, presumably for owls, but didn't have time to hang around, and so didn't see them myself.
However, Spring migration here did seem a bit more advanced than in my area of Wales, and I did see my first Wheatears of the year, as well as groups of hirundines flying over (Swallows, I think), and several Chiffchaffs singing in the hedgerows. Out on the estuarine mudflats, I saw a Barnacle Goose, along with numerous Shelducks, and small groups of Wigeons. None of the birds, unfortunately, were close enough for any decent photos.
I never like to return from a trip empty-handed photo-wise, however; so, as I headed back towards my start-point, I pulled out my big lens to zero in on the centre struts of the bridge, as the sky began to colour-up behind it:

I wasn't geared up for landscape photography, but I did have my wide-angled lens in the corner of my bag, with which I was able to take these shots:

After I had passed under the bridge, I took this simple shot across the estuary:

Finally, I attached my big lens for one more time for this shot of the sun going down over Wales:

So, no owls, but a pleasant-enough walk, spoilt only by the continual din of traffic (I tried to avoid adding to the noise and pollution by travelling there by train!).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Recent Bird Shots

A few avian shots from the last few days.
Coal Tit:

Male Chaffinch:


A couple of days ago, I walked along the coastal path from Langland Bay to Caswell Bay, hoping to see Choughs. There were none there, although I did hear my first spring migrant of the year - a singing Chiffchaff. I had to content myself with photographing the Feral Pigeons as they flew past:

Carrion Crows seem to always appear when I walk along Swansea seafront. I'm sure they can pick me out from other people, and zero in on me as a potential source of food. Here's one who suddenly appeared when he saw me eating my sandwiches:

Today was a beautiful, almost summery, day, and I went down to the park for a bit in late afternoon to see what was about. No sooner had I sat down to eat my sandwiches (food again!), than I heard a strange squawk from above. I looked up to see the lonely male Ring-necked Parakeet, exactly where I saw him about a year ago when I first started this blog

He was clearly getting into the breeding mood, and was peering down towards this nest hole which has been commandeered by a pair of Jackdaws:

Unfortunately for him, the nearest female is probably hundreds of miles away!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Moonrise Over the Bay

Some shots from this evening's walk along Swansea Bay:

Fans of 1980s pop music will no doubt remember Bonnie Tyler. This is her house (actually, probably one of many mansions!) along the seafront in her hometown:

Winter's Last Waxwings?

I had the chance today, Thursday, to nip across the border to Bristol, my mission being to look for the flock of twenty or so Waxwings that had been hanging around in the Clifton area for a few days. I got to the area about 3.45 p.m., and, sure enough, there they were perched high in a tree outside a primary school:

Every so often, a few would dive down into someone's garden to grab a few cotoneaster berries. I felt (and no doubt looked) suspicious, hanging around outside a school gate toting a big lens, but I was able to get a couple of shots, before the flock flew off over some houses at 4.15 p.m.:

It could be some years before we get another Waxwing invasion, so it was good to get another chance to clap eyes on these beauties.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Langland to Caswell Bay

Late this afternoon, I walked along the coastal path from Langland Bay to Caswell Bay; and back again.
Only birds of note seen were a Kestrel soaring overhead, and a group of five Choughs, including these two:

On leaving Caswell on my return walk, I looked west towards the setting sun:

On reaching Langland Point, I didn't have to wait long before some attractive colours appeared in the sky:

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Chilly in Rhossili

I didn't sleep too well on Friday night, so was up early on Saturday morning. The sunrise lured me out into the chill morning air, despite the temptation for a lie-in:

I decided to head for Rhossili, at the south-west tip of the Gower Peninsula, wondering if the Red Kite which was there on my last trip might still be there, and also hoping I might connect with a Peregrine Falcon.
The day was chilly, and a hazy sunshine greeted my arrival in the village. I walked along the clifftop towards the Worm's Head, stopping to photograph a couple of passing gulls on my way:

Before long, I arrived at the tidal island of Worm's Head:

I looked across to the head, where I thought I saw a couple of seals basking on the rocks. I often see Choughs around this area, too, but didn't see any today.
There was no sign of any kite anywhere, so I continued my walk around towards Fall Bay and Mewslade Bay:

 Many of the local sheep were sporting natty pink hairdos:

As I peered over into a field, a Buzzard flew up from the ground where it had obviously been feeding, and circled obligingly overhead:

 The rocky coastline here is often a good place to spot Peregrine Falcons; and, sure enough, I soon spotted one zooming across the sea to my right. It flew inland a bit, before circling round overhead a good way in front of me. I took a few pictures, but they are very small in the frame and not worth posting. I sat down in the cool March air, hoping the bird would eventually return. It didn't! I got fed up and cold waiting around in the sea breeze, and lack of sleep was beginning to get the better of me, so I took the short cut back to Rhossili across the fields, stopping to photograph this lamb on the way:

Then home to catch up on some sleep!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Park- and Shore-birds

I went into the Botanic Gardens in Singleton Park for half-an-hour or so before they closed this afternoon.
Here are a few of the shots I took:-

Blue Tit:

Coal Tit:

Male Chaffinch:



After the gardens closed, I walked along the seashore to Blackpill, where it was high tide. Here, there was the usual large gathering of Oystercatchers; smaller numbers of Curlews; a handful of Ringed Plovers and Dunlins; half-a-dozen Knots; and a flock of several hundred Sanderlings, of which this was part:

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Black Redstart

I was in Cardiff today, so decided to head to Cardiff Bay, where a Black Redstart had been seen recently on rocks at the Penarth end of the Cardiff Bay Barrage. I found the bird easily enough, but it was not very approachable, and these were the best photos I could manage:

A Peregrine Falcon was soaring over the nearby cliffs for a while, but was too far away for any decent photos, as was the Slavonian Grebe I saw a little later further round the bay, just offshore from the ice rink.