Thursday, December 10, 2009

The river flushes the water away to the sea very effectively, but after 18 gallons a square yard (15”) of rain, lowland fields reclaimed from the estuary are partially flooded, water stands even on upland pasture, and the woodland path is a running stream for the first time in a twelvemonth.

The first morning with clear skies, a Song Thrush sang in an Oak top, clear notes ringing out across the valley; thin squeaks, whistles and calls from the Oak canopy keeping parties of Tits together as they worked through, an occasional harsh note from Long-Tailed Tits. Tree Creepers and Goldcrests also use thin, penetrating calls, audible over the sound of wind in leaves. Kingfishers and Dippers are unrelated river birds, both with piercing whistles that penetrate the sound of rushing water. Grey Wagtails are familiar sights of weirs and rapids, alighting on emergent boulders, tails bobbing, canary yellow bellies and backs of slate grey. Their calls are similar but much more urgent and penetrating than related Pied Wagtails, also effective at overcoming the sounds of rushing waters.

This morning on the beach, a couple of black Shags fished between breakers just off shore; packs of Wigeon rode out the waves, parties of black Scoter scattered all across the bay, sleeping, diving for shellfish, or kicking up white spray as they joust for status and mates. Next to two black drakes and one brown-black duck, a tiny, exotic form popped up: white streaked crown and sides over treacle brown; thin necked and turkey headed. The eponymous long tail was not visible whilst swimming, but soon the drake Long Tailed Duck stretched out and winged its way forward, pattering across the water until in full flight, low over the waves, long-tailed and crested like a white, cream and brown streaked Parakeet.
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Image by Eric Dougherty: dougherty.eric@gmail.com
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Wildlife Wales Activities: www.wildlife-wales.co.uk

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