Once again, no surprise where I’ve been this weekend. After studying the weather forecast, I bailed out of a planned trip on Saturday (sorry guys!) though it would ultimately have been successful, and subsequently made plans to try today with the Monkey and my Dad. After getting a last minute brownie-point extension, Shaun also joined us to complete the carload.
We arrived just after 8 to find the bird already showing pretty well on and off under blue skies and bright sunshine. It worked its way gradually and methodically up the hedgeline towards a crowd perhaps 150 strong, feeding in the long grass and bramble scrub on the very edge of the pasture – never in view for more than a few seconds, but generally pretty easy to keep tabs on. Lots of tail-flicking to expose the mega-bright undertail coverts, and the occasional charismatic ‘bounce’ from tussock to tussock. Awesome! It eventually got within about 20m of us (and closer still to some well-placed folk at the end of the line), but photos are still no more than record shots for such a small bird. Not complaining though!
After about 90 minutes of sitting in the sunshine, great views and the occasional slightly disturbing “ooh” and “aaaaah” from Shaun when the bird showed particularly well, we decided that it wasn’t going to get any better (and that Shaun might need some new trousers), and made a move onwards. First up, a tip-off for Dipper was spot on – returning from Rhiwderyn towards the M4, where the A468 kinks right at a roundabout, go straight on on Caerphilly Road towards Forge Mews (a dead-end). Viewing upstream here found a Dipper showing pretty well immediately.
Next stop for us, and numerous other Yellowthroat fanciers, was Cosmeston Lakes, where the adult drake Lesser Scaup showed pretty well. Excellent scope views, and a few pics too…
… though a Whooper Swan (ringed black-on-orange Y59) was much much more confiding amongst Mutes! Thanks to the power of Google, I can tell you that it was ringed in Worcestershire in January 2011 and is believed to have originated in Iceland.
Final stop of the day was a particularly foul-smelling and litter-strewn Cardiff Bay, where we couldn’t find either of the recent Bonaparte’s Gulls. With many of the small gulls remaining out of view on the sewage works tanks for >99% of the time, we really couldn’t muster much enthusiasm to stay, and headed home early afternoon to avoid the usual M4 / M25 Sunday night jams and let Dad get back up to Norfolk in decent time.
A cracking day, with a stunning bird that will live long in the memory!
“I jumped across for you
Oh what a thing to do
‘cause you were all yellow”
[though, on reflection, that would be a Yellow Warbler, wouldn’t it?]