Sunday, 23 October 2016

Castlemartin peninsula dunes this morning and a yellow-browed warbler near Castlemartin Church

A generally cold, blustery NE wind blowing across the dune grassland at Gupton made observing birds quite awkward this morning away from sheltered areas.

Roosting waders out on the open beach at Frainslake included 80+ oystercatchers, 45 curlews and 57 ringed plovers but not much else. In slightly more sheltered parts of the dune grassland there were half a dozen wheatears feeding, plus a few skylarks, meadow pipits and linnets.

Further up the valley, at Frainslake millpond there was bit more shelter from the wind. Here a female pintail on the millpond was a slightly unusual record for this particular location. A small number of redwings were feeding on the hawthorn berries higher up the valley towards Brownslade farm but there were not many other obvious winter birds, other than a few snipe flushed in the dune grassland and a single woodcock. A few pairs of chough and a couple of kestrels were present but no obvious merlin.

After leaving the dunes, I checked out a possible path near Castlemartin Church, this proved to be a useful move. Here a yellow-browed warbler was feeding with a small mixed party of titmice (blue, great, coal and long-tailed) plus a few goldcrests. They were on the sheltered edge of mixed conifers and blackthorn scrub opposite the church car-park. I picked up the YBW from its distinctive call, otherwise I may have missed it completely. I tried for a photo but unfortunately it was impossible, partly due to the wind, but also the birds were moving rather too quickly through the foliage, only occasionally coming into view along a line of trees. I probably heard a firecrest in this general area too, but only got snatches of its call in the wind and never saw it.

At least six red admiral butterflies were taking advantage of warm sunny spots on the woodland edge, occasionally flying up into the canopy to rest.

On my way home, a quite high flock of c. 50 redwings (heading approx west) flew over the road near Pembroke.