Friday, April 20, 2012

Swallows, Sand Martins, Skua

Missed a week of spring progress but just caught a glimpse of first two Swallows skimming low and fast between two cottages before we left: blue-black slips of fibre and feather skimming into wind. Later, harsh buzzing over the beach from first brown Sand Martins hawking for flies blown off the dune tops; neat and diminutive, lacking Swallow’s tail-streamers. Scanning the bay, past thin-winged black Manx Shearwaters skimming over waves and elegant white Sandwich Terns hawking for Sand-eels, a dark, brown-black bird passed across and just below the horizon, heavy flight denoting large size, pale wing patches giving only the second Great Skua found since moving here 14 years ago.

Just before leaving, first Bluebell tubes were lifting and opening amongst spires of dark buds over fresh green fleshy leaves; delicate white Wood Anemone flowers hanging in shade over fine-cut foliage or wide open following the sun

Returning from Italy where Swifts already scream and slice the air above medieval hill-top towns, awoke to first Willow Warbler song of the year, delicate descending whistled refrain, with us now until late summer when young have been raised, territorial concerns forgotten in a race to feed up for the great journey south. The same morning, as every year, Pied Flycatcher halting call is heard first from tops of a Deodar Cedar avenue just up the hill. Noticeable now, it is amazing how the boldly patterned black and white males are so difficult to distinguish once oak leaves emerge, despite distinctive song.

In the woods, Wood Anemones are now joined by taller, upright stands of Greater Stitchwort, white petals arranged in distinctive pairs, and by papery white Wood Sorrel bells hanging over delicate shamrock-like leaves; only link with unrelated Common and Sheep Sorrels being astringent taste and shared roots in the word ‘sour’.

Wildlife Wales Activities:

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