Monday, 2 July 2012

Stackpole Head- PUFFIN'S!


Stackpole head has always been a favorite area in Pembrokeshire, a nice mix of birds, nice beaches and stunning sea cliffs. It always makes for a decent couple of hours, even if theres not many birds about!
Over the last few years, there has been a seeming decline in numbers of everything here, so my hopes wernt exactly too high. However, all the 'usual' suspects are still around, just in less numbers!

The weather everyday since the Sunday had been rather atrocious, and therefore all birding time was pritty much canceled! We did witness the Lifeboat docking at it's station on the Wednesday, and a quick walk along the beach in Tenby during howling wind and driving rain lead to a suspected sighting on a Skua sp. However, the views were ever so brief as it ducked in behind a wave, with no bins, and when using one of the telescopes on the seafront (which were terrible btw!) i couldnt relocate it. Which is a shame, because ive only ever seen one skua previously!

On the thursday morning however, there was a gap in the weather, and i had a PAINTED LADY buttefly on the plants outside the window.

Later in the day, moving to Stackpole head, it was similarly sunny, but with a very gusty wind. It didnt takes long before we started picking up the birds, Skylarks were (as usual) everywhere! And Meadow Pipit were 'seeping' all around us.

A couple of WHEATEAR also joined us on the cliff top, and after abit of time, a female approached us, and gave stunning views!
Soon after, we were also joined by the male bird. Presumably a 1st summer because of the brown tinged wing feathers.

What a stunner!

However, the main reason for visiting these cliffs was to try and see one of the Icons of coastal birding in Wales. The CHOUGH.
We soon picked up a flock of these birds calling from the other side of the head, and we soon located then on the cliff edge.
We were treated to views of an immature bird. A plumage which previously i have never seen, which was now fully indipendant from its parents.

And talk of the devil, Here are the two stunning corvids! Glossy black with blood red bills and legs.

And just flying out to mob one of the ever present Herring Gulls.

The birding here is not just confined to the cliff tops. Clinging on to the vertical rock face below is a bustling colony of seabirds, with both the 'common' Auks well represented. And, as we were a week later than most years, most of the colony were in attendance, and we were treated to large numbers on hte cliff faces, and forming rafts below us on the swell.
And it was while scanning these rafts that i picked out a few white faces. Even at the extreme range we were from the bird (1/2- 1 mile) i could easilly tell that i was watching a PUFFIN on the water! Great stuff!
I knew they were here from previous sightings, however, i had never seen one actually perched/swimming, so it was great to get views of them in the water.
We moved along the cliff, closer to where the birds were, and soon realised that there was infact more than one bird here. And i soon counted 6 birds swimming about, including these two birds, which swam on the sea not too far away.

A SHAG was near the top of the cliffs at its nest.

However, i was soon distracted by the numbers of ROCK PIPIT which had decided they wanted to show well, and i was soon in the presence of a showy male bird, which casually stroled around about 30ft away, often pausing to sing or preen.

A couple of times. the bird was knocked off ballence by the strong winds, which made for some odd poses!

We were also treated to amazing views of this bird, whch showed a very ragged tail.

All in all, a very good visit, and it was nice to see Stackpole 'back on form'.Decent birds, ok weather, what more could you ask for?


Jason K said...

Great post makes me want to return there asap.

P.s love the photo of the 2 Choughs...nice one

midlands birder said...

I know the feeling. Ive been 'down' for the last few weeks while doing these posts because it just makes me want to go back and do it all over again :P Thats the bad thing when looking back on holidays, it makes you wish you were back there!