Monday, 25 April 2016

Spring day on the Gower Peninsula

Yesterday, 24th April, we went to our caravan at the coast on the Gower peninsula. We set off on a long circular walk as soon as got there. The weather was sunny and clear but there was a cold northerly wind.
The first part of this circuit takes us through a sheep field, alongside other farm fields used for grazing, and a large marshy area with stream which runs out onto the beach eventually. Then we walked across a long beach, up onto  a small island then back up onto the mainland footpath back to the caravan.
Out of the windy exposed places is it was warm and we did see some spring bird migrants.

On arrival at the caravan site there were a few Linnets pecking around on the grass. 
A female Linnet, stayed on the ground long enough for me. Always a sweet looking bird with a delightful song and call. Males have more red/pink on the breast and front of  head. When taking the photo I realised the male Blackbird was in the frame too !

Here is a Whitethroat. Not the best of photos but soon they will be everywhere near our caravan so I can try to get a better shot at it. Summer visitor to the UK, brown back, grey head, dark tail. Another sweet song and often displaying up from bushes briefly before landing again.

This is another type of Whitethroat called Lesser Whitethroat. Identified primarily by its different song to that of a Whitethroat, often skulking in the middle of bushes and singing. Darker grey head and grey back. We waited patiently quite a while for this one to pop out of the bush and then I fired off a load of photos and these were the best (above and below).

A stunning summer visitor to UK - the amazing Wheatear. I love them. This is a male. He didn't turn at all hence a front on photo. But generally their back is grey, with black wings, and a white rump is visible when in flight. I mentioned Wheatear in an older post but didn't have a photo of it. Now I have one! I love this photo of this bird. Gorgeous!

On the little island that walked onto we found a quiet sheltered spot overlooking some amazing rock formations and there was an outlet of rocks and the sea. There were absolutely loads of  Herring Gulls on the sea and rocks. As we scanned through our binoculars my husband found 2 Whimbrels (both above photos).  They are a wading bird, and more often seen at the coasts during the winter in UK. Marked with brown and white plumage, streaky breast, and white eye stripe. A similar bird is the Curlew which has a longer curved bill. 

There were many clumps of these flowers with a strong scent coming off them. I will endeavour to find out what species they are.


Now for my favourite seabird - the Fulmar. A member of the tubenosed seabird families. Obviously different in flight to the various Gull species, the Fulmar keeps their wings more straight when in flight and have a gentle 'elastci' effect of wing beats. Colouration is grey above and white underneath. The 'tubenose' is the make up of the bill, similar to that of Albatross, Shearwaters and Petrels. They were having a lovely time soaring around the rock faces and cliffs yesterday, going over me and past me. I also had a great time taking their photos. Here are the best ones (x3 above).

There were a gathering of Cormorants on the rock faces too. A large black sea bird with large yellow bill. Also seen on  lakes/reservoirs.

This Kestrel seemed like it was completely still in the air right above us on our return walk. Fabulous! I find myself saying that almost every bird is my favourite!  I love them all.

A wandering Red Kite was seen after the Kestrel. Not the best photo -  I have got better ones from somewhere else which I will share later in the year as a 'look back in time / on this day' theme. At least here it portrays the classic forked tail and the sheer size of the bird.

We found a couple of Buff-tailed Bumblebees bombing around. This one was actually cleaning itself. 

This final creature was found dead along the tide line of the beach, earlier in the walk. My daughter spotted it thinking it was a dead crab but then we noticed it was different to your 'average' crab. We have absolutely no idea what it is. Another one to investigate and I'll get back to you. She subsequently found another 20 or so along the tide line. Strange.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this blog. I look forward to another post sometime this week.
Thanks for reading.

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