Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Whimbrel, Swifts, Eider and Trout

Waist-deep, casting for Bass at the harbour entrance; familiar ‘pee-pee-pee-pee’ overhead; four, long-billed birds waver in loose formation, slowing with shallow wing beats looking for safe resting below; first Whimbrel between southern wintering and tundra breeding. Along the boulder shore, higher pitched, urgent ‘pee-pee-pee-pee’ from first Common Sandpiper, bound for mountain lakeside nesting, maybe in the Rhinogs at our backs.

Hundreds of small waders, resting up, almost invisible amongst boulders or streaming along the shore, banking in unison, pale undersides flaring in sunlight: Dunlin, from silver winter grey to summer black belly and scaly rust; likewise, white Sanderling through to summer black-and-rust; larger grey Knot, some already russet-breasted; white-splashed, orange-and-black Turnstones and familiar, sandy-backed, black-banded Ringed Plover sporting orange bills and legs; most tundra bound.

Two duck flying away down the shoreline turned out to be white-blotched, dark brown drake Eider wallowing solid and heavy-billed in dark wave troughs, not quite in full summer plumage.

Whilst packing up optical gear, a thin black sickle flickered over the meadow; first Swift hawking for black, leg-trailing Hawthorn Flies blown from Gorse and Bramble.

Fat black tadpoles wriggling in puddled wheel tracks; narrow elliptic Pond Skaters darting across the surface. Grey, cloud-bound mountain lake: expanding rise rings and pale belly of a hooked trout flashing deep under the surface. Heavy rain drops splashing across the lake; silver balls of water skittering between craters, persisting for the count of six before collapse.

Lastly, casting in warm sunshine, methodically working down a wide fast pool above a weir, mending the line across flows and eddies of lively water: sudden bang on the line as the fly sweeps the weir sill; tea-stained water splashes white in the sun as first silver Sea Trout of the year comes to hand, another marker in the rush to summer.

Wildlife Wales Activities: www.wildlife-wales.co.uk

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