Thursday, 28 March 2013

how does your garden (list) grow...

Apologies for our tardiness, but a combination of things to do and the freezing conditions have kept us away from birding as much as we would like. However, we have had some great moments since our last blog, including a cracking close overhead adult goshawk at the Clettwr - one of those rare times when straight away you know theres no mistaking it for a sparrowhawk. A couple of brief trips to the Leri have produced great views of quartering hen harriers, as well as merlin, red kite and sparrowhawk, which included seeing a female take a starling in flight by the boatyard. Other than raptors, fairly quiet - still good numbers of scoter at Borth, with g c grebes and the odd r t diver. Yesterday we got up close to a couple of hundred golden plover at Ynyslas in a brief snow shower.

On Monday morning as Steffi was returning from a nights lambing, a barn owl drifted across her path near Cors Dyfi.
Good news from the garden - 4 new additions to the list, with 3 on one day. On Sunday,much anticipated, a lone common snipe showed itself when a low flying buzzard drew it out of deep cover and into view, before it headed off into the rush grass to hide itself away. Also, again much hoped for, not just a stonechat finally got on the list, but 4 in one day, 2 male, 2 female. Three skylark completed the triumviate of newbies on that good day, with a hunting merlin on Monday boosting the tally. The reason we saw most of these was because we were keeping track of the large numbers of redwing, fieldfare and mistle thrush that have been moving through the valley this week.
Another garden visitor of note concerns the badger that has taken a liking to the overspill from our bird feeders, and is now relishing the peanut butter treats we put out nightly for it. Hopefully Steffi will be able to get a photo soon.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Spring on Hold

Well, the brief spell of spring like weather we enjoyed at the beginning of last week abruptly vanished and was replaced with a bone chilling wind and plummeting temperatures that put paid to the trickle of migrants that had begun to appear on the Welsh coast. So, as we sit here in the cabin with the heating back on still dressed in our winter woolies, we are yet to add wheatear or sand martin to our 2013 list. The poor weather has coincided with a busy time for us, so not much birding has been done apart from the day to day observations as we go about our daily chores. Red kites are very much in evidence, wheeling around in pairs or small groups calling constantly, as are the buzzards. Steffi had another hunting short eared owl whilst commuting into Aber on Monday, and we had a new tick for the garden list when we had pairs of curlew heading east up the valley on consecutive days. In the garden itself, and around the immediate area, siskin numbers seem to be growing, with at least a dozen coming to our feeders every day, and larger groups feeding on the woodland edge behind Bryn-y-goch, and goldcrests are being very vocal. The male sparrowhawk had a succesful strike at the feeders this afternoon as one more tit was despatched to avian heaven.
On the river, the dippers continue to entertain, and are regularly joined by grey wagtails but as of yet theres been no sight of the kingfishers we had here last year.
Plenty of frog spawn in the temp pools by the river, though what this recent cold spell will mean for it is anyones guess.
Across the river the heronry is in full swing and the raucous croaking and squawking coming from it is becoming the backdrop to our life.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Dusky Delights

The fine spring-like weather continues, so we decided to get out of the house on Saturday and head over to the coast at Ynys-las for a good stretch of the legs. Checking out the beach first we saw little of note, though it being the weekend and good weather, we didn't expect much as the hoardes of dog walkers and day trippers that generally descend upon the area were very much in evidence. The 2 snow buntings had been seen earlier, but all was quiet during our stroll, with a small group of golden plover being the highlight. They do look fantastic in the late afternoon sunshine, and always worth a photo.

Heading inland over Borth bog, we figured on doing a circular walk through the reedbeds and along the river. A group of feeding reed buntings held our attention for a while, whilst on the river a few redshank and a lone dunlin gave us something to look at other than the incredibly annoying group of constantly honking canada geese, who seemed determined to ruin the solitude as the sun set and the temperature dropped. We had just stopped on the river bank for Steffi to get some shots of the sunset when a barn owl appeared hunting over the raised bank opposite, ghosting past us without a sound and occasionally twisting and dropping down onto the ground - the kind of sight that makes you forget about the cold creeping into your fingers and the culling of noisy geese.

Earlier in the day, sat in the garden soaking up the warm sun, I watched buzzards, kites and ravens soaring and diving as they went through their courtship routines over the valley, and observed the comings and goings of the heronry. A group of 5 fieldfare were feeding amongst the sheep, and I couldnt help but think they might well be the last we'll see here this winter.
Today we checked on our local dipper pair, and both were on show, feeding just up from the nest site. Bullfinches are showing well around the drive up to the house, and the great spots are drumming up a storm. What with the snowdrops and daffodils bursting out everywhere, and Steffi seeing a comma butterfly down by the river, it finally feels like the end of a long wet winter might just be round the corner.