Tuesday, 7 April 2015

An interesting (if somewhat bizarre) misty afternoon at Penally

In search of breeding choughs today produced some interesting things, once the sea-mist had lifted somewhat. The first (and quite a surprise, but I guess it might be expected with the conditions) was the discovery of a wryneck feeding on the rocky coastal slope between Proud Giltar and Giltar Point, near four choughs that were also feeding close by. Annie was further along the coast on Lydstep Head and she saw what was most likely a Water Pipit but her views were frustratingly all too brief to be absolutely sure in the misty conditions. I looked for the wryneck again, after the mist had lifted completely but there was no sign of it.

As the mist evaporated, St Margaret's Island began to appear, looking a bit surreal and somewhat Medieval for a time. I guess I have come to expect almost anything on the Pembs coast but hearing the odd echoing sound of a soprano saxophone being played during the dense mist by someone at the base of the cliffs on Franks Shore was most bizarre! Interesting though the playing was, the musician was no "Sidney Beche" and nor was he playing "Petite Fleur"!

Choughs in the fog!

St Margaret's island rising out of the mist

Swallows started to trickle through when it cleared and it was nice to eventually find two nesting chough pairs. They're hopefully doing well this spring judging by the number of Tipulid (cranefly) larvae they were pulling out of the turf!

 Female chough - begging for food from her nearby mate

Tipulid larvae were plentiful in this patch of turf

Over the weekend, out and about, it was noteworthy yesterday (Monday) that there were quite a few willow warblers singing in wooded areas - e.g. at Stackpole. Blackcaps too were singing in a few places there and at Llawhaden two days earlier (Saturday 4th).

I wonder if some adult cormorants have just returned to their breeding colony on St Margaret's from somewhere in the S. or SW? Yesterday afternoon, from Stackpole Head, I watched two separate flocks (one of nine and one of five - all adults) fly in from some distance out towards the horizon. They appeared to be flying in more or less from the direction of Lundy. Heading straight towards Stackpole Head, they made a sharp right turn, to follow the coast towards St Margaret's Island. Was this just a long-distance fishing trip, or birds returning from wintering areas to the south? I picked them up whilst watching hirundines coming in over the sea - small numbers of all three species, including a single house martin.