A stiff, cold breeze blew from snow-covered mountains this morning as the Wildlife Wales sign was straightened following Wednesday’s strong winds. First Skylark song of the year cascaded down from sun & cloud above, loud enough to penetrate the rush of wind. They have been around The Maes and low-lying farmland for a week or two, evident by their short, liquid, ‘chirrup’ and undulating flight on broad-based, triangular wings.
No takers for this morning’s walk, so telescope & binoculars were carried to the beach slipway to check for seabirds. Scoter littered the bay, as ever; black drakes with tan bills bright in the sun, ducks now very light brown with pale cheeks, but no telltale splashes of white denoting rare Surf or Velvet Scoter. Scanning the bay systematically for white turned up a couple of long, low, white-bellied, silver-backed Red Throated Divers as they rose to view on wave tops, bills slightly uplifted, and a tight pack of buff-crowned Wigeon rafted up just off shore, but nothing else of interest.
Tuesday morning, on a calm sea, along with scattered parties of Scoter unusually close to the beach, more than a dozen white-fronted, snake-necked Great Crested Grebes fished or preened, including an unusually large group of six and another pair sizing up for their ‘snake dance’ pair bonding display. Directly out from the slipway, beyond its larger relatives, a pocket-sized version swam in a patch of dark ripple, bright white breast and neck contrasted strongly with a black, peaked cap; Slavonian Grebe in winter plumage, not much larger than Dabchick.
Passing over the rickety toll bridge the other day, a party of four, light brown, Little Grebe swam below in the incoming estuary tide, rear-sited legs and lobed toes splayed behind as they dived and surfaced in the swirling, sand-clouded flood.
Wildlife Wales Activities: www.wildlife-wales.co.uk