Wednesday, 10 July 2013

"The best days birding I've had in Pembrokeshire.... Ever"

That above statement proves so true! I have never found a decent bird on holiday in Pembrokeshire, so to find two superb birds in a couple of hours was amazing!
But first, here are the few days running up to that final days birding.

While returning from a trip into Tenby, we returned to our staying location to find a superb RED KITE hunting over the meadows adjacent in a howling rainstorm. There is just something special about seeing a 'true' Welsh Kite hunting over a Welsh meadow, a real conservation success story!

A walk on the cliffs behind our accommodation revealed a Whimbrel and 4 Gannet offshore, as well as the expected Meadow Pipits.

A trip to the Beach with The Girlfriend revealed a flock of 5 Chough, as well as 2 Wheatear. A small flock of Gannets were hunting offshore and an Oystercatcher was on the offshore rock stack.
In the surrounding woodland i found singles of Pied and Spotted Flycatcher, and a male Redstart.

So it bring us to the day, the big one!
The keener eyed of you may have noticed that was last visit to Marloes Mere was painfully quiet, and i had a date with an old friend.
With the tide just being on the turn we dropped into The Gann first in the hope of Waders and did it produce!! Near the outflow of the river stood a flock of 40c Waders, a mixed flock of Dunlin and Sanderling!
With the wind being exceptionally strong, with resulting sand blasts of rocky stones and sand i decided to hunker down and get some photos or some summer plumaged Sanderlings.

A couple of birds joined the flock, so i had another scan of the flock. Bloody hell, LITTLE STINT! How on earth did i miss that he first scan because the two that just flew in were a Dunlin and Sanderling. While just grabbing the camera the entire flock, including the minute Stint took flight, the reason? A Peregrine flew through, causing mayhem, and in the confusion the Stint was lost to view, and we presumed that the bird had followed the larger flock of Waders (30c) and flew northish.

With these flocks now gone, we checked the lagoons in case the bird had dropped onto them, but all we could find was 6 Dunlin.

Moving out into the wider estuary, out list of waders for the day kept increasing, Whimbrel after Whimbrel until at least 20 were located feeding on a muddy shore. These birds were fairly distant, however a couple were close in on the newly exposed rocks as the tide dropped.

The Bar-tailed Godwit from the last visit was again showing, intermixing with the large flock of Whimbrel and Oystercatcher.

So it was onto Marloes Mere to meet an old friend.

Grabbing my Beach chair, scope and Bins, we positioned ourselves near the Barbed Wire gate, and waited, and waited, and you guessed it, waited. The old friend was proving late. With the time now approaching 4:20, and only 3 Shoveler, a pair of Ravern and a flyby of small waders hope was dwindling, so i decided to stand up and have a stretch, tilting my head back to stretch my neck.

"That looks a little dark and rakish"

Bins up



A dark morph adult, showing a extended central tail feather (or two??) and white comma's on the outer wing accelerated low and fast over out heads. It turns out that very same wind that i had been cursing all afternoon     helped me find one of my highlights for the day as it pushed the Skua overland due to the high winds.

Having got my dad onto the bird, i tried to signal the two birders walking away from us towards the hide, not getting their attention, i ran to the hide to tell them the news, and then made my way back to my scope, picked it up and sped it along the path overlooking the bay adjacent to Marloes Beach, where the bird had flown to. After about 20 minuites scanning, it became obvious the bird had flown straight through. Small numbers of Kittiwake and Gannet were feeding in the bay.

That certainly picked things up a little bit, a rare occurrence for a Midlander to find an Arctic Skua, despite it being the commonest.

A short spell in the hide revealed a short flight view of a Black-Tailed Godwit.

So now it was to wait for our old friend. We walked the path, where we found 1 Chough, and had a chat with a woman from 'up north' who said she was looking for an LRP as they were hard to come by up by her! Its hard to put that into context when your used to seeing them every week. We turned around and started walking back to our viewpoint and in doing so spotted my old friend flying in over the Reeds.


With the sun shining, its metallic plumage at times looked almost silver, before the bird dropped into the area where we had been waiting for the previous couple of hours. We hot footed over there to be greeted with ok views of the bird feeding at the back of the flash.

Having certainly gone through a change in maturity since i saw it almost a year to the day before, back when it was a brown and speckly 1st year bird, it looked almost pristine in colour, with stunning shades of green maroon and blue, not forgetting those orange thighs.

A small crowd had developed, and while watching a small flock of 5 Black-tailed Godwits dropped in beside the Ibis, and started feeding together! Awesome! Mission done, it was time to head for some well deserved supper.

But that wasn't the end of the birds!

Ok, there weren't any birding days from now on, but just a few highlights from being out and about.

The last full day in Wales, so i decided to spend the day with the Girlfriend. In Tenby i found a Rock Pipit and a Shag, the Pipit showing on the Beach weaving in and out of the sun bathers.

Moving onto Manorbier Beach, 2 Chough were the best, and both Gannet and Fulmar were offshore, with an Oystercatcher on the exposed rocks while Rockpooling.

The saddest day, because it was time to head back. However, one thing to look forward to was the Red Kites, and they didn't disappoint, with 52 seen, including a single flock of 25! 2 Yellow Wagtail were also seen in roadside fields once we had reentered the Midlands.