Monday, 7 September 2015

Castlemaritn Range - roosting choughs, GBB Gulls, kestrels and other things

A weekend of trying to locate the chough roost at Castlemartin resulted in eventual success last night when c. 42 choughs gathered near Linney Head. c. 35 of these roosted nearby in a sheltered bay. The two colour-ringed sibling sisters, ringed by Tony Cross in Ceredigion in 2014 (previously reported on the Blog) were among them. The others (probably mostly resident adults) flew off to roost probably at their nest-sites.

Late on Saturday afternoon, at low-tide,  there were an estimated 160 great black-backed gulls resting on Frainslake beach with equally numerous lesser black-backs and a smaller number of herring gulls. Yesterday evening I counted 172 GBBGs, including at least 4 distant colour-ringed birds (one adult, one probable 3rd winter bird and 2 juvs) most likely from Skokholm. Even with a good quality telescope they were too distant and flighty to get close enough too to read the inscriptions on the rings.
A small part of the gull flock - including a colour-ringed GBBG
Last night there were at least 300 LBBGs on the beach, about double the number noted the day before. On both nights, after sun-set, all the large gulls gradually moved off, seemingly heading out towards the islands.

Kestrels were very much in evidence over the weekend, presumably dispersing birds on the move. Yesterday evening, at least 12 kestrels were hovering in the air more or less at the same time, either side of Linney road. In addition, 3 had been noted at Stackpole whilst doing a butterfly transect there in the late afternoon. It seems likely that there would have been others hunting along the c. 10km of coast between Linney area and Stackpole.

Other birds noted, included: 2 merlins (female and imm. male); c. 30 sand martins and 20+ house martins at the Furzenips; the house martins roosted there. c. 50 alba wagtails (probably all pied) feeding in the dunes headed off, probably to roost somewhere at Gupton. Flocks of up to 75 goldfinches and 500 linnets were noted to be feeding along the coast on various seeds.

At Bluckspool/Frainslake Sands there were 42 curlews, a similar number of oystercatchers, 23 ringed plovers and a flock of 15 common sandpipers around the rock-pools. A couple of years ago I recorded a flock of 35 in the same area at dusk in early August.

Sunset near Linney Head

All in all a very enjoyable end to the weekend