Monday, November 26, 2012

Stonechats, Kestrel, Egret

Sun hangs low beneath white cloud down the coast, western sky blue over serried ranks of dirty green waves breaking cream surf along the beach. One rainbow pillar sits on the bay in white mist, opposite end faded in black cloud banked behind sunlit mountain slopes: just a snapshot of recent tumultuous weather patterns. Snow on the tops then first frosty morning turns to wind and rain by day’s end fetching down showers of leaves to drift against stone walls and gutters, light snow of yellow Larch needles under banks of coarser broad-leaves. Truncated butter-yellow Tulip Tree; deep red calligraphic Japanese Maples; sharp-pointed yellow Norway Maple with matt brown Oak, shiny tan Beech, simple yellow Hazel and many others blown even into the kitchen.

On the coast, especially in good weather, numbers are up as returning over-wintering birds mingle with resident populations. Good to see recently depleted Stonechats along the dyke flitting up to the tips of thistles and Gorse sprays, more cocky even than closely-related Robins.

Less common here than Peregrine & Merlin, a Kestrel has been about, perched quietly on telegraph poles or fence-posts, watching, preening, dropping down and back with small prey, or hovering with spread tail and fanned wings, a static, tan-coloured patch over dun November landscape.

Awaiting the 10:00 am walk start, the van rocks in strong winds that gust up the coast, sky leaden behind mountains, even gulls struggling to penetrate wind and navigate turbulence. Suddenly, a medium-sized bird lifts from the drain, southward toward the estuary, bright cream white against leaden clouds, rising and falling with sudden jinks and corrections, trailing black stick-legs and custard-coloured feet: Little Egret struggling to make headway against the storm when sudden grapeshot hits the van and the scene disappears in the white mist of a passing squall.



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

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