Thursday, 5 June 2014

Savi's Warbler, Begins the short Welsh trip

Still recovering from the full day's birding in Norfolk, and the long walk out to Gun Hill for the "MEGA" Spectacled Warbler, what we didn't need was an extra 3km walk round the entire Newport Wetland reserve.
But after setting off from home at 4am we had arrived at the Centre well before the gates to the car park were open.
With the reserve centre closed the route straight out to the Savi's area was also closed off . So what we should have done was take the Eastern path for a couple of hundred yards and come back round, instead we took the path that pointed towards the lighthouse. Some 3km's away from the area we needed to be searching!
Eventually the lighthouse came into view, a surprisingly small lighthouse with nearby factory chimneys dwarfing it. As I crossed the bridge I could already hear the Savi's reeling from somewhere among the reeds.
A short walk along the path and movement was spotted in the reeds.  The Savi's was no more than 6 feet away from us.
With the reeds blowing around and plenty of them between me and the bird it proved a challenge to find an angle to grab any photo's.
Eventually I managed the two below.

Savi's Warbler

From here we headed straight for Marloes, arriving to find the boat trips to Skomer already fully booked.
Brian booked himself onto one of the round the island boat trips for later in the day. This left plenty of time to explore the deer park.
Choughs were seen on the cliff sides and several birds were heard calling overhead. A family party of Ravens were also using the cliffs.


A much overdue year tick was then seen in the shape of a Fulmar. The pair had a nest under a nearby ledge and were regularly seen flying to and fro. 
A scan across to Skomer and it's surrounding bays produced large numbers of Razorbills, Guillemots and Puffins. Several Shags were also seen perched up on rocks and also in flight.

Rock and Meadow Pipits were both seen as were several Wheatears.
After Brian returned from his 1 hour boat cruise around the island we headed off to Strumble Head. Scanning the sea from the Observation hide, it wasn't long before the first of the Manx Shearwaters were seen heading back towards Skomer.
At first most passing Shearwaters were in small groups of four birds, but as the evening wore on bigger groups were seen.
Dolphins were busy feeding out in front of us, The Gannets were busy circling around the same area waiting to cash in.
On the drive back a quick stop off at Blackpool Mill  produced another well over due year tick in the form of a Dipper. Reaching a nearby roundabout we found workmen cutting the grass, and this had attracted the attention of a Common Buzzard, waiting to grab anything that was disturbed. It was easy pickings for the Buzzard, it just waited either in a nearby tree or on  a fence post and flew down each time.
The workmen told us that there were 3-4 Buzzards that followed them around while they cut the grass.

The weather on the second day was the complete reverse of day one. Rain was already falling as we checked out of our accommodation early on Wednesday.
Staying in St Clears meant we were twenty miles closer to our destination. We headed through Llandovery and stopped at the RSPB reserve of Dinas.
The rain had been falling continuously since we set off, but at least it was easing off a little as we left the car. The first bird heard was a Tree pipit, but I failed to locate it among the tree tops. Along the boardwalk I expected to find Pied Flycatcher's and I wasn't disappointed, with a male seen leaving the nest box, and several more sightings on the walk. A short distance along the boardwalk and a Spotted Flycatcher is found. 
At the end of the boardwalk a  Wood Warbler was heard singing and then seen perched on a low branch, several more were heard on the walk.
This left just one target species to find, it proved more difficult this year than previous ones, but as I returned to the boardwalk movement along the fence line alerted me to a stunning male Redstart.
So all target species connected with, and there was still time to get views of Tree Pipit before we left.
Leaving Dinas we headed further on past Llyn Brianne and parked up in the small car park of Twyi Forest.
A short walk from here offers some stunning views across the forest, it was just a shame the weather wasn't kinder.

The last stop of the trip was to Gilfach farm, a first visit for me. Again the rain was falling quite heavily and it put paid to any chance of getting the camera out.
It was a real shame as there were Pied Flycatchers, Redstarts, Coal Tits, Siskins, Redpoll, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Red Kite all seen from the information car park.
Pied Flycatchers were nesting in a nearby tree, Redstarts under the information centres eaves, it would have been fantastic had the weather just eased up.

Despite the weather on the second day it was  still another two great days in Wales, producing 11 year ticks and a trip list of 100+ birds.

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