Sunday, 29 April 2012

Wheatear Magic

Freezing NE gales and continuous heavy rain battered the region all day - a moist, cool end to an April dominated by such weather.

I decided to stretch my legs as the rain eased up early evening. Flash floods covered large patches of some of the fields out towards Aberdaron and several parties of gulls and drake Mallards (females presumably incubating) were using them. It's great to see how the water temporarily brought life back to some of the old watercourses around the village. Ghosts of streams and ponds that some of the idiot farmers drained and destroyed to claw back a few more square metres of grazing sprang up in a matter of hours... it's a shame that the dragonflies, bog plants and wetland birds are long gone.

I walked down towards Porth Ysgo (where I took the photo on my Twitter profile page) just as the sky was slowly darkening and the flowers closing for the night. A pair of Stonechats scolded me at the top of the steps - the male had a beak full of caterpillars destined for the nestlings nearby. The waterfall was in full flow but somehow never looks photogenic! A party of three noisy Sandwich Terns fished close inshore and a couple of Northern Gannets were scything over the sea out towards Ynysoedd Gwylan.

On the tideline six Oystercatchers, a smart Whimbrel and a party of five White Wagtails scuttled along the sand. Closer, a movement caught my eye on the seaweed coated pebbles - a very damp Wheatear. Slowly as I refocused I noticed several more, camouflaged, silent and still, in a tight group. Scanning along revealed more and more... they seemed to be everywhere... on the beach, perched on the rocks, tucked into crevices under the boulder scree and feeding around the rotting seaweed by the high water mark. Eventually, I logged a minimum of 33 (many were big orange Greenland race birds) - with several literally falling out of the sky as dusk fell on the beach - an absolutely magical mini-fall! As anyone who knows the site will remember Ysgo is only a small cove and these were encountered in an area of only c200 metres length - I can only imagine how many more might have made landfall and found shelter on the beaches of the peninsula tonight?

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