Griswold's Birding Year 2018
2017 Total: 227
Well. Like others it seems I've been thinking about this year's list. Thinking about not chasing about here and there for the sake of a list, but concentrating on maybe viewing birds I haven't seen before, and enjoying the birds/situations that I really enjoy. Birding opportunities will also be less this year given my youngest is playing rugby for the local team every Sunday morning, and they both go swimming on the weekend.
Having said all that I went around a fair amount of Gloucestershire today but the birds were amazing. I also covered just under 9 miles by foot (according to my iPhone) which was just what the Doctor ordered after a heavy Christmas.
So New Year's day was much more leisurely this year. I arrived to pick my father up at 07:45 and he was still in the shower. Took the opportunity to have another cup of coffee:t:
Headed straight to Fforest Ganol in the hope of bagging a lifer for my old man. No such luck however as the heavens opened and we retreated to the car. We decided to head to Forest Farm and sit in the hide to get out of the rain. The rain soon eased off and luckily we bumped in to Gareth, a park warden there. Coincidentally I follow Gareth on Twitter so it was good to put a face to the name. Gareth was amazingly helpful and showed us to where he'd seen a Hawfinch earlier. After a quick search, there he was. My old man was absolutely chuffed as it was the lifer he was after- cheers Gar:t:
Next we headed to Kenfig as it was on the way home. Again bumped into a couple of people I follow on Twitter so again, it was great to to put faces to names. Good to meet you Graham and Ed:t: The birder from Newport was also good company though I missed his name. All in all it was very enjoyable few hours birding with my father.
Anyway. The short list for the day was as follows:
1. Tawny Owl
5. Carrion Crow
6. Wood Pigeon
9. Common Buzzard
10. Herring Gull
12. Great Tit
13. Coal Tit
14. Blue Tit
15. Long-tailed Tit
16. Marsh Tit (in the garden:t:)
18. Greater Spotted Woodpecker
23. House Sparrow
25. Cettis Warbler
27. Grey Heron
29. Great Crested Grebe
30. Little Grebe
31. Slavonian Grebe
36. Canada Goose
37. Tufted Duck
39. Black-headed Gull
40. Feral Pigeon
42. Mute Swan
46. Collared Dove
So today I headed to Gloucestershire with Kev. Despite the weather (and forgetting my wellies!!:eek!:), we had a great time. We visited Parkend, Cannop Ponds, Plockton Court, Crabtree Hill, Slimbridge, Sharpness and Oldbury Power Station. The only bird that didn't play ball was the Black Redstart at Oldbury. I think by the time we got there it had hunkered down for the night.
The following were added:
50. Greylag Goose
54. Common Redshank
57. Golden Plover
59. Black-Tailed Godwit
60. Northern Pintail
62. Great Grey Shrike - my best view so far on Crabtree Hill - FOD:t:
63. Penduline Tit - superb little bird
64. Great Northern Diver - another great view on SARA pond at Sharpness by the lifeboat station.
65. Northern Shoveller
68. Greater White-fronted Goose
69. Barnacle Goose
70. Great Black-backed Gull
72. Bewicks Swan
73. Pied Wagtail
Also had superb views of Hawfinch at Parkend and met some very decent birders.
Also had a new mammal in the FOD - Wild Boar. 5 by the Arboretum at Speech House and Kev spooked one on Crabtree Hill. I've never seen Kev jump so high:-O:-O
Stopped and had my sandwiches at Kidwely Quay today. Added the following:
74. Red Kite
75. Reed Bunting
79. Mistle Thrush
Worked from home today and whilst at my computer I noticed species #80 on a tree in the front garden. :t:
Lovely walk around Garwnant today with my youngest.
Added the following.
My youngest and I decided to count how many species we could see today in the garden, and at Penclacwydd. Ended up with 56 which was a new record for us:t: Highlights included great views of Bullfinch, Water Rail, Kingfisher and Marsh Tit. Added the following to the year list:
83. Song Thrush
85. Little Egret
86. Water Rail
88. Common Snipe
Had a walk around Sandy Water Park (Llanelli) during my lunch break. Had superb views of a female Long-Tailed Duck and a Common Gull was also present.
90. Long-tailed Duck
91. Common Gull
Went with the boys down to Rhossili and then 15 mins at Crofty Marsh this afternoon. The new Snugpak Torrent jacket kept me really warm but it was a shame I'd left my gloves in my car.
At Rhosilli the following were added:
93. Common Scoter
95. Chough- great views.
Then at Crofty a couple more ticks were added.
96. Great White Egret
97. Green Sandpiper.
Will head back here with Kev and spend a bit more time. It's often good for Hen Harrier and Barn Owl.
Had a cracking day in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire today with Kev. Left Neath at 6 and headed up to Borth. Dipped on King Eider (again!!) and got totally sandblasted in the process. The wind was so strong my eyes were watering and the sand was stinging. Added the following:
99. Meadow Pipit
At Tan y Bwlch beach we headed to the jetty. Quickly added the following:
100. Purple Sandpiper - one of my favourites to take year total up to 100.
101. Rock Pipit
A couple of Chough were also present.
Now it was back to Carmarthenshire via the greasy spoon outside of Llangadog. At Cilsan Bridge there were 42 Whoopers and at Dryslwyn was a couple of Tree Sparrows.
102. Whooper Swan
103. Tree Sparrow
Now it was a quick blast down to Kidwely Quay. Chiffchaff and Goldcrests were by the car park and then we walked over to the entrance to the water works. A photographer from Bridgend was already there so we knew we were in the right spot.
104. Firecrest - much better views than I've had previously.
Our session was shortened due to an almighty hale storm. Again, stinging against the face. Back at the car park was #105 though.
105. Grey Wagtail
Decided to head home to collect the children with a stop at Pwll to see if we could bag a Kingfisher for Kev. No luck unfortunately but there was a distant Red-breasted Merganser.
106. Red-breasted Merganser
A cracking end to a cracking day.
Worked from home this morning so any year tick would be slightly unexpected- getting 3 though whilst making myself a coffee was a real surprise.
109. Lesser Redpoll (first in the garden for a few years)
And then returning from a meeting:
110 Green Woodpecker
A very unexpected tick today. A superb male Black Redstart on the roof of the building where I work:eek!:
111. Black Redstart
An early contender for at least a top 5 place in 2018's list.
Had a cracking male Brambling at lunchtime today. The first one I've seen in Wales for several years.
Finally, after what feels like an age, I've been able to add to the year list. :t: Had a couple of nights away in Dorset with OH and stopped off at Ham Wall on the way home. Also briefly crossed the border into Devon.
114. Corn Bunting
116. Brent Goose
117. Cirl Bunting Lifer #1 B (:B (:
118. Black-necked Grebe
119. Red-Throated Diver
120. American Wigeon Lifer #2B (:B (:
122. Marsh Harrier
123. Bearded Tit
Had a lovely morning at Penclacwydd with my two boys. On my 4 th attempt the female Ring-necked Duck showed really well. Typically I'd left my memory card in the laptop!:-C Then, when having a chat with another member of Carms bird club, we picked out 2 Spotted Redshank from in front of the British Steel Hide.
124. Spotted Redshank
125. Ring-necked Duck
Have been given a pass for Friday. Trying to decide where to go. Dip. 3rd time on the King Eider or head elsewhere? Hmmmm. Will have to give it some thought.
Was at Kenfig Pool for an hour or so this morning. Had great views of the female Goosander and the White-fronted Geese were also present. A few Goldeneye were present and a Sprawk did a flyover.
Stopped off at Aberavon Jetty on the way home and picked up Turnstone.
Just came back from Llanrhidian. Caught up with somebody I follow on Twitter. A decent fella and very good birder. Paul picked out a SEO which I think is the first one seen there this Winter.
128. Short Eared Owl
Also had 3 GWE's and a dog fox running across the marsh.
So I decided to stay local and head down the Gower on Friday with my old man. Absolutely freezing in the hide at Whiteford Point, with the Easterly wind whipping up the sea making it very choppy. Best we could manage were 3 Common Snipe and a few Brent Geese. Walking around the point though, and being sheltered by the wind, birding became a lot easier. It's usually the other way around here. There were 100's of Brents, Turnstones, Dunlins, Ringed Plovers, Sanderling, couple of GCG's, Eider and 3 Mergansers :t: Also, walking past the National Trust cottage on the way back, in a small pool of water in the field was a Green Sandpiper. Neither of us had seen one here before:t:
129. Ringed Plover
We then decided to stop at Crofty Marsh for half an hour. I genuinely can't remember a better 30 minutes birding with regards to species seen - absolutely superb:t:
On arrival a pair of Red Kites were circling quickly followed by a stunning view of a male Merlin coming off the marsh and across the road like a missile. My father then mentioned the Egret feeding in the ditch behind us. Assuming it was a Little Egret I raised my bins to see an amazing Great White Egret - two more were to follow in the remaining time. Three Kestrel were seen over the marsh along with a Common Buzzard and then, when packing away, I had one last scan. A Ringtail Hen Harrier was quartering the marsh. I quickly got my scope out of the boot and watched it with for a few minutes with my father. During this time I could have sworn another Harrier species flew through my view but I kept on the Ringtail. It was later reported that a Marsh Harrier was also seen on the marsh that afternoon. A brilliant end to a brilliant day:t:
131. Hen Harrier
Have had really limited opportunities to go birding recently. Fortunately, my eldest had a friend over for a sleepover on Saturday and they both like Pokemon Go. So it was off to Garwnant. It was absolutely nobbling so we didn't spend too long there but did add:
133. Willow Tit
This is one of the more reliable locations for them around here.
Only 5 weeks to go until the Scottish trip:t:
Grabbed a 20 min lunch break at Pembrey Harbour today. A few decent birds around including: Skylarks, Stonechat, Red Kite and Kestrel. Also had my first Wheatear of the year which is about 2 weeks earlier than last year.
Then after work we headed down to Llanrhidian stopping off at Penclawdd on the way. At Penclawdd we had a cracking view of a Greenshank and another year tick in the form of a Common Sandpiper.
135. Common Sandpiper
Then at Llanrhidian had a really enjoyable couple of hours watching Stonechats, 3 Great White Egrets and a Short Eared Owl. Pleased about the last one as it's rarely been reported down this winter so we got lucky.
Had a lovely couple of hours at Penclacwydd with the boys today. Good to catch up with Paul whom I follow on Twitter and a good selection of birds - 3 Spoonbills, 2 Spotted Redshanks, the long staying Ring-necked Duck and a Sparrowhawk took a Collared Dove no more than 6 feet behind me:eek!:
Added o the year list:
Went for a meal out with my family today as it was my parents anniversary. I can totally recommend the cod and chips at The Shed in Porthgain. My 11 year old can recommend the mussels:t:
Anyway. Whilst waiting for the others to arrive we had a short walk around the headland. Ravens were displaying and there were a few Rock Pipits around. Added the following to the year list:
Then stopped off at Newgale Beach on the way home and added another year tick.
Also bumped into an old colleague from a couple of years ago in the local pub which was a bit of a surprise. Nice to catch up:t:
Headed down to Kenfig Pool this morning. First Swallows and Sand Martins of the year were over the pool. Was hoping for a Willow Warbler but all I could manage was a few Chiffchaffs. Also present were Goldeneye, Sprawk, Kestrel and good numbers of Greenfinch.
Good to catch up with Neil - a birder from Bridgend. Very knowledgeable and good company.
140. Sand Martin
Next it was up to an undisclosed site in the valleys. For once a hunch paid off. My usual site for this species has seen a great deal of logging, so all I've seen there on the last couple of visits have been a couple of Common Buzzards, and Ravens.
Anyway, there were 3 displaying in total:t::t: 2 males and a female.
Got tomorrow off so am trying to decide where to head. Given the weather forecast I think it might need to be somewhere with a hide3:-)
Headed down to Penclacwydd for a couple of hours. On the way down a low male Peregrine flew over just by the roundabout over the Loughor Bridge.
Again, couldn't find a Willow Warbler but there were plenty of Chiffs around at Penclacwydd itself. The tide was amazingly high - higher than I can recollect before. A couple of Spoonbills were present and the long staying RND was still on the deep pool. Added the following:
142. Mediterranean Gull
I think the book may well and truly be closed for best bird of 2018. Belted down to St Davids with Kev after work and there she was. A massively unexpected lifer:t:
143. Snowy Owl Lifer # 3 B (:B (:B (:B (:B (:B (:B (:
Nice to add a year tick from the bedroom this morning. :t:
144. Willow Warbler
Despite the weather, had a lovely walk down from past the Ivy Tower, to the Cimla. Blackcaps were singing at the 4th Gnoll Pond;Willow Warblers at the third; a male Goosander on the 2nd; and more Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs at the first with a few House Martins flying over.
145. House Martin
Had a lovely visit with friends to RSPB Dinas today. Had a picnic down by the river whilst the children played in the river! Looked bloody freezing to me but they don't seem to feel the cold:eek!:
Still a little early in the year but after a bit of searching my first Common Redstart of the year was found. A stunning male at the end of the boardwalk. A Goosander flew over and Ravens, Common Buzzards and Red Kites were generally getting on each other's nerves over the mountain. (Incidentally there were 15-20 Red Kites over Defynnog on the way home:t:). In the car park I put some seed down and quickly a heap of birds came down to feed- Coal Tits, Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Marsh Tits and Yellowhammers.
A great day out:t:
146. Common Redstart
A couple of nice year ticks this afternoon at Penclacwydd, and near the Loughor Bridge.
148. Little Gull
Got a couple to add from the recent Scotland short break which I'll sort out shortly.
From the Scottish trip:
150. Hooded Crow
151. Velvet Scoter
156. Manx Shearwater
157. White Wagtail
159. Black-Throated Diver
161. Golden Eagle
162. White-tailed Eagle
Dipped on Black Duck, American White-winged Scoter and Surf Scoter. Only had an hour at Musselborough though as it was on our way back to South Wales. Did have one lifer in the form of a Pine Martin:t:
163. Tree Pipit
Belted down to Pembs today (picking up Kev on the way) after the rugby festival near Pontypridd.
Great views were had of the Green Heron. The owners of the home where the bird is located were incredibly accommodating :t:
164. Green Heron Lifer#4 B (:B (:B (:
Had a cracking short birding session in the Beacons yesterday. No Ring Ouzel at a site I know of but amazing to watch a male Peregrine and 3 Red Kites in the same binocular view:eek!:
Did have a year tick today whilst sat at my desk:t:
Was heading up to Goldcliff this morning but decided to cross the bridge to the dry side for a change. Glad we did as at Portbury Wharf was a cracking Spotted Sandpiper. Had great scope views but too far for a decent shot.
166. Spotted Sandpiper Lifer# 5B (:B (:
167. Sedge Warbler
168. Common Whitethroat
A lovely morning. Now just waiting for my new niece/ nephew to arrive:t:
Headed over the dry side of the bridge today to look at some pups. Added the following:
169. Common Tern
170. Stock Dove
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