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WALES HOLIDAY 2007!!! Part 1

Posted Tuesday 11th September 2007 at 19:41 by devilbirder
The Wales Holiday Part 1

Underlined means a 2007 year bird BOLD means a lifer.
This is my first blog entry. I recently went to Wales, got back yesterday at about 8pm.
We stayed in a lovely cottage on a farm in Carmarthenshire. We arrived around 4pm on Saturday the 18th. On the way there I tried to spot as many birtds as possible from the car, only got about 15 species, things such as Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Gulls, Carrion Crow, Buzzards etc. The first day was pretty uneventful, we went shopping to stock up on things for the cottage but nothing really obird wise. Anyway I manage to pack in about 3 months worth of birding into a fortnight, got 7 lifers and it was very enjoyable.
Day 2- The first birding day
We woke up around 7ish to go for a walk around the farm. I heard Jackdaws and there were plenty Magpies but not much else, just as I approached the cottage and the sheepdogs and their lovely puppy started barking at seeing me a huge Red Kite flew over the cottage very low a year bird for me and spectacular too. I didn't think I would get much birding otherwise, if any so I wasn't particularly excited. We did go shopping (BORING) and it was about 2pm that I looked thorugh my where to watch birds in Britain book and found that there was a place along the Gower peninsula, near us, which would be a pleasant visit. I was hoping that there would be some lingering seabirds at Worms Head, there was hardly anything there, a few Gannets were flying along but apart from that there was just Swallows. I lost hope of any lifers that day. I was sitting down on the grass when I noticed a smaller, sleeker bird than a Cormorant, it must have been a SHAG lifer number 1 YAY! If it was a Cormorant I would have known and it did look smaller and slimmer, plus they were meant to be in the area. Life list 187.
I thought, fair enough I have got what I thought would be the easiest lifer, but I'm not going to get anything else. At that moment I heard what sounded like a sneezing Jackdaw, guess what's coming yes a smallish dark, short, fingered winged corvid rode the wind and flapped around into the wing for a brief moment before disappearing around the corner. It was a CHOUGH , lifer number two! Life list 188.
I thought I would see Ravens, and a few times I thought I had seen one but they were all just big Carrion Crows, they weren't Ravens but I swear they were much bigger than down here in Surrey.
After walking back to the car we sat around watching the sea munching a hotdog whilst a House Martin danced around in the wind. We set off and as mum and dad argued in the car I watched as a huge RAVEN flew overhead, dad looked just in time to see the bird. Lifer number 3 life list 189 . From that moment onwards the spectacular Raven was one of my favourite birds. After this we got back to the cottage and ate dinner, or we may have had it out. I can't remember and no-one really cares because I finally got three fantastic birds, even if the views all lasted 5 seconds for each of them.

Day 4 (21st Aug 07)- Dipper Hunting

We found that there was a reserve, just down the road from us, where you could see Dippers and some of my 'possible' lifers such as spot fly, pied fly, redstart etc. We walked up and down the river for about 3 hours not seeing a sausage until in the corner of my eye, I saw a smallish, dark figure, sitting on a rock with a pale, white breast!A Dipper! I couldn't control myself and I was soooo STUPID because I shouted at the top of my voice "THERE'S ONE!!! THERE'S ONE!!!" of course, it flew away! At least I saw one- life list 189

Day 5 (22/8/07)- National Wetlands Centre

My parents didn't want to go anywhere far today so I suggested the National Wetlands Centre, so off we went, after a fairly short journey, we came across some Swallows, Jackdaw, Chaffinch, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Greenfinch and Starling from the Cafe. From the first hide over the large wetland patch, kind of like a mere we found Little Egret fishing near a Grey Heron, Mute Swans and Greylag Geese over the other side juvenile Shelduck which are always a delight and a lone Whrimbrel, my second for 07 and despite it being distant it was one of the best views I've ever had of Whrimbrel. Goldfinches flitted around along with Linnets. A few hides along we were watching the wild ducks when a male (? (breif so couldn't really see if lower mandible was red or not)), well you probably know it now from what I just said but a Kingfisher flew out right in front of us and hovered, prefectly, before diving into the water and heading off again, a few moments later it flew past us again and that was the last we saw of him. The next hide produced Redshank and Greenshank (both in flight), then we headed off home.

Day 6 (23rd Aug 07)-Seawatching at Strumble Head

This was the last day for lifers, we thought we were going to Skomer! But once we had driven, oh only about 60 miles (!!!!) to get there we found boats had been cancelled. We should have phoned up before we left. Anyway it paid off because we headed off to Strumble Head for a spot of seawatching, we were treated to fantastic views of a Kestrel hovering into the wind, which was so strong it didn't even have to beat its wings at all. We entered the old military building and scanned the sea, the first thing I picked up were Gannets, loads of them diving into the sea, and at one point I manage to get my scope on a nearby settled one, allowing great views. Then I managed to spot many of Manx Shearwaters riding the waves. Another lifer for me, they were really too distant to watch properly but I still managed to watch their lovely flying moves over the waves. After a bit more scanning I found 3 Auks on the sea, one of which was Razorbill, only my second ever and my first for 07, and amazing birds to see, the other two were an adult Guillemot and its chick, quite endearing. I find it amazing that these birds spend alot of their lives just at sea, surrounded by endless waves and blue, in a vast wilderness. It was around this time that a Chough landed right in front of the hide allowing great views, I didn't quite come to terms with what was going on because I was surrounded by great birds, I managed to grab my camera, shoot a few photos but it flew off and unfortunately they were all focused slightly off the bird, I kept them as record shots. Just as we were about to leave I spotted a Fulmar, flying just behind a Manx Shearwater, following the exact same flight path! Amazing. Most of the time I also saw Kittiwakes far out, first I had seen for a year or two. At the end of the day I saw some amazing birds, three lifers, great views of Chough and gannet and saw 2 year birds- Razorbill and Kittiwake.

Day 9- National Wetlands Centre again

Today we had ran out of places to go already! So we though we should have a look around the other bit of the National Wetlands Centre, it was a very hot day (again), which is so off putting when you are birding. The first bird we noted was a Robin singing in the car park and later Jackdaws flying over and feeding on the feeders. From the first hide (or greenhouse with those glass windows on such a hot day, and angled glass so you can't focus your scope) we managed to pick out blurry images of Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Lapwing, Redshank, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Black-tailed Godwit, Canada Goose and other birds you would expect to see at a small patch of wetland. Further along, at the Bittern screen (if anyone has found a Bittern from that then I envy them)I heard a Cetti's Warbler, which is a good find for me, there was no chance of me spotting it from the small view that I had from that viewing screen. I also heard a Chiffchaff from the same general area. Slightly further on I heard a Water Rail in the reeds, but again didn't manage to spot it and never would have. Other birds of note were great views of Little Egret, Pochard, and Jay, as well as Great Tit, Greenfinch and Blue Tit on the feeders.
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