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Spooks South Wales Birding Blog

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S/Wales Birds by J.M.B.

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S/Wales Animals by J.M.B.

Mynydd Y Gethin - Twyn Sych - Brynbychan 6th May 2017

Started through Tirfounder with the "usual" set of 45 species including Little Egret returning again, and a Grass-snake near a Sedge Warbler nest, looks like he was sunbathing. The Canada Geese appear to be sitting on eggs. Up then to Mynydd y Gethin, startled a young Buzzard. Flocks of 6 or so Linnets with Siskin. Crossbill appeared as I sat on the stone bench here for lunch, bright orange primeval parrot looking. Unexpected Red Kite flew behind me, hoping for one at Tirfounder one day. Through Twyn Sych only 5 or so each of Skylark and Meadow Pipit, with billberry beds looking very abundant. A complete change at Perthygleision woods with abundance of Mistle, Song Thrush, Blackbird and Robin. The 'storm-cock' with his melancholy singing above the swaying conifers sounding like a tempetuous sea, and with the scent of sheep and new nettles was theraputic and otherwordly. Decided to camp at Twyn Brynbychan, views of 4 valleys, found cleft of a warm rock, heard 1st Cuckoo this year, heading north. After a double helping of homemade mushroom curry with handpicked wild garlic, nettles, spring greens was so full of beans decided to head back to Twyn Sych, sad sight on way back a dead fledgling Song Thrush, didnt see it on way here, made me think I may have stepped on him, I am sure I would have noticed, he was very cold. Camped at the leeward side of the stonewall, which as a barrier excellent, but stupendous as an outside giant radiator. I heard a strange call like a bark at 20:30 me thinking grouse, I have no doubts was a Rabbit, then saw a Bat fly over head moments later. Nothing unusual in the night but a 3/4 Moon with Jupiter and planets visible to its left. Kestrel in the morning as I took breakfast at the mountain bike center. Not a soul did I see on this trip, not 50 years ago there would be a shepherd, guardian, hunter, stone mason or passing drover, but now animals replace them in relief no doubt.

13th May 2017 - Merthyr Mountain - Cyfartha

Dark morning so a short town trip, found a small pair of cheap binoculars on tramroad. I feel glad the owner lost them, lenses diffracted with double vison and a angle of view so small it would damage the eyes if used too much. On the way up Heolgerrig, a distant Cuckoo down at Bryn Pica, a few Willow Warblers, with a Redstart on my right. Flocks of Linnets, Siskin and Stonechat. At top, a few Skylarks and the usual bevy of raucous Ravens, making strange water-drip noises. Apparently they turn up in their hundreds at Bryn Pica tip every morning to feed. When they disperse sentries 'stand guard' along the ridgeways home, presumably to give the all clear. Cyfartha had usual mix of woodland birds and migrants, with cygnets, goslings and ducklings in the pond. At the iron works around 50 Sand Martins have utilised this artificial cliff face as a nest, but they still squabbled over specific '1st class' holes. A 'Mod' festival in Merthyr Town centre with their classic mopeds diverted my attention from everything. Being a tyedyed rocker I found this amusing, until I noticed that my new bird watching coat was the same as the 'Mods' were wearing. This town is indeed a stange mix of dilapadated rotting buildings next to exclusively decorated ones run by as many cultures as in London. Made a rather foolish purchase of a bird-in-a-cage automaton, only because it needed extensive repair. I suppose my conscience will be redeemed at finding it to be only vintage by the fact that I would never be able to afford a real antique one, plus fits with the birding theme of this blog.

5th May 2017 - Aberdare Town Park

A leisurely jaunt today to check on the usual suspects at the park. 6 Rooks were visible at the rookery, making a commotion as I was near a fledgling that had presumably taken its first dive and dazed itself on the turf. I checked it over for broken bones and seemed fine. Reluctantly I left it in a tree, should be safe as houses in the park. The Chinese or African Geese present as always, large, fat and raucous, I suspect they never lay, but where do they come from? Recent introductions or decendants of those from the Victorian age foundation of the park? The library image archive notes nothing more than Swans and Mallards in the early days. Indeed 90% of the photos of what was then a boating lake feature 0 birds, suggesting they employed a bird scarer to keep it clean, and thus the 100 or so pigeons, gulls and geese are in fact recent colonisers. That conundrum also applies to the Egyptian Geese, one of the pair was very territorial in display thus I assume the other must be sitting on eggs on the island. Noted M. Bevan states the chicks never survive due to gull predation, which is why perhaps one was seen at Tirfounder last week, searching for new territory. A plucky little pair of Swallows nesting in the low beam gallery of the pond cafe, the father chattering with pride atop the light over the door gave a warm welcome. 4 Grey Wagtails a Dipper & a Kingfisher within 5 min of each other on the Cynon opposite the Glancynon Inn gave a refreshing feel to contrast with all the industrial activity around me, notably the start of revamping the old Aberdare Railway Station.

26th April 2017 - Phurnacite-Pwll Waun Cynon-Craig Y Dyffryn-Coed Tir Estyll

Always worth checking the lower ponds, and was not dissapointed to find a Sandpiper at the Phurnacite. As it was in the same place as the one found in Feb, assume it was a Green Sandpiper. The Swan pair are nesting here again, despite the obvious disturbance, fires, hunting/fishing etc. Plenty of Willow Warblers & Blackcaps, few Swallows, House Martins but no other migrants. Pwll Cynon was empty as usual with only 3 Lesser Gulls, as was Craig, the only thing in song here was the Cwmbach male voice choir giving an impromptu cooncert in the hospital. Coed Estyll along the old tram line was fruitfull with close ups of two young Buzzards and a Redstart at the golf course. Finding a fresh 2 litre pint of milk in the middle of those woods had me puzzling for the rest of the trip. Surely you would notice something that big dropping from your shopping bag.

10th April 2017 - Mynydd Y Glog

Ventured to stay overnight on this open plain maybe to hear some Grouse, but was as quiet as the giant iron age cairns here with only a full Moon and a visible Jupiter beneath as company. Awoken at 4am by a displaying Curlew, funny time to do it with no light to show him off. Plenty of Skylarks around at sunrise, with the clear crescent of Saturn visible. Down to Cwm Cadlan, with Wheatears in full song, and a solitary Buzzard. Down to Bodwigiad farm, where there was a good mix of early migrants, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Redstart, Linnet and to my surprise a solitary Swallow, which was a good roundup to an inspiring adventure.

7th April 2017 - Cefn Y Gyngon

In search of the Great Grey Shrike before summer sets in, I was sure to be disappointed if I did not camp out for six hours, but was rewarded with a Red Kite swooping over the Country Park and a ditch swarming with 100's of tadpoles, a sorry sight to behold that they will be desiccated in a few weeks. You'd think the upland conifers to be dead spaces, but it is filled with songbirds, in larger flocks here than the valleys (Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch). The reason they chose conifers for upland planting can be seen in the experimental Eucalyptus groves at Mynydd Ystradffernol. These, the remnants of a 100 or so species planted here, I presume in the 50's, poles with brass plaques tell of those they tried and failed. Rowan, Haw, Betula, Querc etc. No notable migrants, but a Canada Goose and Cormorant on Lluest Wen Reservoir brings some colour to that dead stretch of water. A pair of Kestrels have taken over the Peregrine roost duty at Craig yr Ysgol, possibly due to the domination of wind turbines.

Text & Pictures Copyright J.M.B. Spooksprings 2017