Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When the wind drops, not only is it easier to hear calls and song, but also birds and animals seem more active and visible. The species count on the last wildlife walk reached numbers only usually obtained from over-wintering duck & waders. Picking up all the village and farmland species at the farm gate, the light southerly breeze brings characteristic ‘pee, pee, pee, pee’ of Whimbrel from the saltings and the tumbling cascade of scratches & whistles from across the rushy meadow: first Sedge Warbler from this location, staking out territory in a reedy ditch. Scanning the entire panorama brings a Buzzard soaring above a wooded escarpment, a sea cliff in past times. Thin Swifts flicker in hard light before grey cloud; Swallows high in lilting, erratic pursuit of midges; occasional, compact, direct Martins speeding like Spitfires.

After the busyness of winter, the estuary seems deserted: isolated pairs of white & black Shelduck; occasional Whimbrel and Curlew on the salting. A sleek Wheatear stands erect on sea-washed turf, ‘chacking’ in alarm.

On the boulder shore, apart from obviously paired Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover and occasional Whimbrel, there are flocks of Ringed Plover, Dunlin with black bellies, and Sanderling, some fading from silver white to orange-brown breeding plumage.

Far out on a grey sea float two dense rafts of black sea duck, occasional birds splashing down to join them. Impossible to count until a fishing boat scatters one flock into the air, over 400 birds are counted as approximated in tens. Over-wintering Scoter left the bay end of March, but moulting flocks of juvenile birds and adult males are known to gather in Carmarthen Bay, joined later by females & young. With the combined Ireland & Scotland breeding population at about 150 pairs, 800 or so birds are worthy of note.

Wildlife Wales Short Breaks: Autumn, Winter & Early Summer
For details, telephone (01341) 241469

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