30 October 2017

Yellow-browed free zone

Goldcrest, Redwick.

Another in an ongoing series of searches of perfectly serviceable Yellow-browed Warbler habitat; another dose of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Goldcrests; another blank in the way of anything better. Yellow-browed would do, Pallas' or Hume's would be much appreciated. 

29 October 2017

Patch tick Snow Bunting

Rock,... rock,... blob.

Having been unable to relocate it after DW's find on the 22nd it was nice to get a second go a week later.  Looked like a 1st-winter male, as did the last one I saw in the county (for more on that bird see the very first Gwent Birding blog post ever). My first on the patch,... which is nice. 

27 October 2017


The first flock just post-dawn, like a wisp of smoke in the distance. But it was not a wisp of smoke,... oh no,... it was not.

They just kept coming. Relentless. Flocks overlapping flocks overlapping flocks all the way to the horizon. A psychologically damaging number of pigeons. Is there a cognitive therapy for post-traumatic pigeon disorder? Nurse!

14 October 2017

Bluethroat, buses, etc.

 1st-winter male Bluethroat (with blue!), Uskmouth, 14th October 2017,... in the dark (ISO 10,000!)

Obligatory tail pattern pic.

Amazing, you wait years for a Bluethroat to appear in Gwent, then two turn up within days of one another,...

Woken by a pre-dawn phone call from RMC, Bluethroat trapped at Uskmouth(!), hand to floor, grope around for trousers, trousers to knees, hop-hop-hop past slumbering labradoodle, trousers to waist, grab jumper, grab gear-filled rucksack, phone TC on descent of stairs, clamber over stair gate with jumper over head (health and safety nightmare/potential death-trap), place dry Weetabix in gob, grab keys and step out into the darkness. Arse! Re-open door, grab glasses, spin and head towards car.

Brrrm, squeal, brrrm-brrrm, zoom,... and skid to a halt at Uskmouth. TC arrives.  

Hello Richard, hello Bluethroat, click, click, click, click, click,... Bluethroat released, Bluethroat disappears into reedbed. Goodbye Bluethroat.

The third record for Gwent; the three birds have been seen by one, three and four observers respectively. They're often tricky little bleeders but this is taking the piss. 

PS. The bird was looked for later in the day without success, no surprise really given the area of reedbed and scrub at the release site.

12 October 2017

Another first for Gwent halfway up a mountain

A 1st-winter male Rock Thrush,... in Gwent!

A phone call from TC, regarding the discovery of a possible/probable Rock Thrush by JM near the Blorenge, somewhat curtailed a visit to the National Museum Cardiff. Headed back Gwentwards and off up the darklands. On the way to Pwll-du Quarry the identification was confirmed by means of an emailed photo from JM. A nappy change worked against me but the nipper smuggling rucksack paid off in spades and the tiddler and I were soon looking down into the quarry. Luckily, the bird appeared more-or-less as soon as we arrived and remained on show (feeding on various invertebrates [including the earthworm pictured above] and scudding about the quarry) until we left. An incredible record and only a few miles from the site of the Marmora's!

Addendum: went back for sloppy seconds on the 25th by which point the bird had been, and was still being, fed regular handfuls of mealworms by talentless twatwaffles masquerading as photographers. The thrush now spent most of its time lethargically awaiting the next handout whilst hundreds of, identically yawn-inspiring, photographs were sputtered onto a dozen compact flash cards by an ageing phalanx of camophiles,... what a time to be alive!  

Let the tiddler run around squealing her head off just to piss off the lens bearers. To every action one must seek to find an opposed and equal (and entertaining) reaction.

06 October 2017


1st-winter female Bluethroat at a private site in deepest Gwent.

Unfortunately, a private site, single track country lanes with very limited/no parking and potential landowner issues meant no general dissemination of the news. The bird was present for two days but, although a handful of observers were granted access to the site, it was only seen by the finder and, after a five hour vigil, by two other observers. The site was a pretty nondescript patch of scrub in the corner of a nondescript field in pretty nondescript farmland; predicting the whereabouts of decent passerines in Gwent is a mug's game. Only the second record for the county following one on 1st October 1999 at the NWR.