Monday, 28 July 2014

The annual pilgrimage! Pembrokeshire 2014

Perhaps didn't get as much birding time in as I was hoping on this holiday, but some good days non the less!
I headed out early to be on the clifftops behind our accommodation, and although it was late May, the brisk and cool morning winds was still harbouring a slight whiff of migration, and a few Lesser Whitethroats, Whitethroats and 'Phyloscs' certainly added to that feeling.
My main intention though was to get out to a nice high point and have a couple of hours seawatching.
With Oystercatchers calling from the rocks below, and Gannets and Fulmar fishing and gliding close in to the cliff, it was a rather relaxing affair, as actually rather little was moving on the sea!
However, a party of 7 waders flying in from the west quickly attracted my full attention, with long necks and bill shining a vivid orange as they moved further east, with their huge white wing bars and black and white tail it was obvious I was watching my first Pembrokeshire BLACK-TAILED GODWITS of the year, they continued east, fast across the horizon, before dropping out of sight behind the headland.
A further 2 hours passed and 3 Mallard was all I had to show for it (Mallards!!), but quickly two large seabirds came in from the east, hugging the coast so they were maybe only 100ft out. Immediately obvious was the fact that two divers were flying towards me! They got closer and closer, and it was about when level with me it stuck that both of these birds were huge! They're huge pale grey bills could be seen as could a dark half collar and large, projecting feet, they were winter plumaged GREAT-NORTHERN DIVERS! Being so close I thought they would drop onto the sea off Freshwater east, but rather than doing this they jutted out into the sea, heading for St Govans head in the distance, but this allowed for prolonged viewing as they flew away from me. A small party of 10 Razorbill flew past from the direction of a nearby breeding colony.
With no Tern movement, despite an onshore breeze, I took a few snaps of a few of the resident seabirds of the shores around Pembrokeshire and went off searching for landbirds!
Soon, in one of the steep 'gullys' that had been eroded by the sea a juvenile Raven was found, hopping from rock to rock and showing that juvenile interest in anything that only a chick recently out of the nest could have!
It's parents were in close attendance, searching for food on the cliff edges, and giving absolutely stunning views, showing off their glossy plumage to full effect in the sun, shimmering blue, green and purple in the light!
Rock and Meadow Pipit's were ubiquitous, as were Stonechats, with 16 counted including many 'first broods'. As always though, these active firecrackers of a bird always made me stop for a little while I had a quick watch. It was quite interesting to watch their feeding methods as they worked the gorse and heather in pairs, with the male keeping vigil as the female gathered food for the chicks.
As you would expect, I managed to locate a number of a west coast of wales speciality, and once the walk had been completed, a total of 8 CHOUGH had been seen tumbling through the air, filling the air with their distinctive crys. Sadly, non were co-operative enough to perch up for a photo, but a number of nice flypasts were enough to keep me happy!

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