17 February 2017

Distant ducks,... mostly

Popped to Peterstone Gout for high tide and the reported Scaup. Saw an f. distant dot that was probably the Scaup, convinced myself for a while before the birding conscience kicked in. The fact it didn't even cross the threshold for a Gwent year-tick should give you an idea of just how shit a view it was. Did have a Common Scoter drift slowly down-channel on the falling tide though (also distantly, perhaps v. distant as opposed to f. distant) so,... swings and roundabouts.

Found a dozen of these guys on the way home. Fly-catching from roadside trees, not a berry in sight. 

13 February 2017

Flying elephants

A Jackdaw outside Tescos giving a withering look to someone who mistook the 'mother and baby parking' for the 'fugly and lazy parking'.  Jackdaws,... famously judgemental.  And, boy, do they hold a grudge.  Memories like elephants,... tiny, evil, flying elephants.

09 February 2017

Withering before the blast

A finger-numbing morning in an easterly on the eastern levels.  Checked out the Lapwing flock on Caldicot Moor, nearly 600 birds but not a single Golden Plover (or anything more interesting) among them; did bump into a couple of Red-legged Partridge though.  Decided on more wader fun in the form of a Jack Snipe foray.  A quick potter on the saltmarsh between Collister Pill and West Pill produced three Jack Snipe and 30 Snipe.  The dense cord-grass along this stretch doesn't make for crippling views on the deck but got decent enough looks of all three of the stripey ickle sweeties in flight. 

05 February 2017

Red-flanked Bluetail

Finally caught up with the bluetail, only took the five visits.  Not easy to dig out but, once it appeared, it showed down to about five yards, albeit briefly, just beyond the point where the stream goes through the plastic pipes and under the path.  Luckily, it popped up in a reasonably sunny spot so half-decent views were had by one and all (well, all two and a half of us). 

31 January 2017

Bettws Bittern

Breakfast, Bettwsbound, Bettws, bagged Bittern, back.

Not the best,... but not the worst views of Bittern. Also Kingfisher(s) knocking about.

29 January 2017

Was today International Shite Day?

"… I folded away the letter and put it in my inside pocket 
All of a sudden I felt brushed by the wings of something dark 
May the Lord have mercy on Stringy Bob …"

17 December 2016

Come friendly fog and fall on Gwent!

Apart from the moan of fog horn and rifle crack of dew-soaked electric fence it was predictably quiet at Goldcliff.  A few waders drifted in and out of the murk but nothing to write home about (13 Turnstone being the most notable); no disoriented seabird or grounded migrant appeared.  Two silver linings, had the place to myself and I got to play 'possibles and probables' with more or less everything (animate and inanimate) between about 40 and 60 yards away.  Beyond that it may as well have not existed, it may not have existed, everything within the mist may have been a writhing mass of transmogrification only taking solid form on looming into view,... who knows?     
 The vista from the third viewing platform was somewhat truncated.

It got a little better but never achieved 'crystal clear'.

31 October 2016

Azores 2016

Not a vintage year.  Two largely fruitless weeks under the Azores high with further frustrations care of Brexit idiocy inspired currency devaluation and the small matter of there being a Sibefest in northwest Europe.  No world ticks, one WP tick (Northern Flicker, gripbacktastic), five Azores ticks and only one decent find.  Here's a quick species list and a few pictures. Species marked with an asterisk relate to putative/possible records of almost certainly unacceptable birds listed purely to jog the memory at some distant point in the future. 

Brent Goose Branta bernicla hrota, Wigeon Anas penelope, American Wigeon Anas americana, Teal Anas crecca, Green-winged Teal Anas carolinensis, Mallard x Black Duck Anas platyrhynchos x rubripes, Pintail Anas acuta, Shoveler Anas clypeata, Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris, Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis, Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae, Cory's Shearwater Calonectris borealis, Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis, Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Buzzard Buteo buteo rothschildi, Moorhen Gallinula chloropus, Coot Fulica atra, Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus, Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, Dotterel Charadrius morinellus, Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva, American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica, Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Sanderling Calidris alba, Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla, Little Stint Calidris minuta, White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis, Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos, Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea, Ruff Philomachus pugnax, Snipe Gallinago gallinago, Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus, Woodcock Scolopax rusticola, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, Upland Sandpiper Bartramia longicauda, Redshank Tringa totanus, Greenshank Tringa nebularia, Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes, Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres, Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor, Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus, Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus, 'Azores Gull' Larus michahellis atlantis, Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis michahellis*, Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis, Cabot's Tern Sterna acuflavida*, Common Tern Sterna hirundo, Feral Dove Columba livia, Woodpigeon Columba palumbus azorica, Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto, Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus, Long-eared Owl Asio otus, Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus, Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea patriciae, Robin Erithacus rubecula, Blackbird Turdus merula azorensis, Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla gularis, Goldcrest Regulus regulus azoricus and R. r. inermis, Starling Sturnus vulgaris granti, House Sparrow Passer domesticus, Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild, Philadelphia Vireo Vireo philadelphicus, Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus, Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs moreletti, Atlantic Canary Serinus canaria, Greenfinch Carduelis chloris aurantiiventris, Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis parva, Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas and Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea.

Blue Shark Prionace glauca (dead), Sperm Whale Physeter macrocephalus and Azores Noctule Nyctalus azoreum.

Semipalmated Sandpiper foraging on and adjacent to the track near the seismic station, Corvo, seen to catch and consume various invertebrates including several Tipulidae larvae.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth feeding on dahlia in garden adjacent to the supermarket, Corvo. Yes, I did want something from the shop. Yes, it was a Cornetto.

Dotterel feeding on one of the low hills southwest of the lakes within the caldera, Corvo.

American Golden Plover foraging on the flower (mostly Taraxacum officinale agg.) bedecked slopes below the reservoirs, Corvo.

Pacific Golden Plover loafing in the post-industrial martian landscape of the Cabo da Praia quarry, Terceira. Self-found (actually re-identified, the bird had been reported as European Golden Plover for two days) and the second record for the Azores, I found the first one too. Get me.
Long-tailed Duck on the new pond at Paul da Praia, Terceira. 

04 September 2016

The great white goose hunt

The High Cross puddles producing the goods as usual; one day, once I've robbed enough banks/post offices or won the lottery, I'll buy that house and have Ynys-y-fro as my garden pond.  I'll be able to see nothing of note from the kitchen window every single day.

14 July 2016

Pre-Inquiry Meeting for the M4 corridor around Newport

 Grass Vetchling Lathyrus nissolia, Gwent Levels.

For those that are interested but have yet to receive (or may not receive) letters outlining the details,…

The pre-inquiry meeting for the M4 corridor around Newport/‘New M4’/‘Black Route’ is being held next week at 1 pm on Monday 18th July 2016 (and, if necessary, the following day from 10 am) at the Lysaght Institute, Orb Drive, Corporation Road, Newport NP19 0RA.

The purpose of the pre-inquiry meeting is “to consider what may be done to secure that the forthcoming inquiry is conducted efficiently and expeditiously and to help participants prepare for their appearance at the inquiry.”

This will involve information being presented, and discussions on, various topics regarding the inquiry including:
  • the scope of the forthcoming inquiry;
  • the draft scheme and orders and environmental documentation;
  • the statutory tests applying to the consideration of the case;
  • the alternatives to the published scheme;
  • the participants;
  • details of normal procedures;
  • presentation of evidence; and
  • the venue, facilities and times and dates.

I’m not saying it’ll be a bundle of laughs but it might be worth attending. 

PS. The Welsh Government is working towards a start date for the Inquiry at some point during autumn 2016.

Latticed Heath Chiasmia clathrata, Gwent Levels.