Thursday, 19 May 2022

Castlemartin peninsula this morning

It was nice to see swifts back at their usual sea-cliff breeding areas on the Castlemartin peninsula this morning. Hopefully this small and vulnerable population will have a successful season. A few whimbrels were still passing west along the coast.

The Castlemartin Range covers a very large area and has numerous patches of scrub (and who knows what might be lurking somewhere), but it is interesting that the Woodchat (which we were pleased to see) has settled in a patch of scrub not far from where Peter Hughes (who works on the Range) found one back in 1995. That particular individual stayed for two days (12-13 May); just long enough for several observers to see it, including one of us (Bob) who, being based at Stackpole with the CCW then, was able to see it (after work of course!). 

The current bird seemed to be taking bumble bees with relative ease, as was the case with the 1995 bird. Hopefully this has not included any of the rare, and probably only just emerging, shrill carder bees!

Choughs too are partial to Hymenoptera, ants in particular. With growing young to feed, at various nests on the peninsula, many of the adult choughs are now concentrating on ants (especially yellow meadow ants Lasius flavus) to feed their growing broods. Choughs will exploit ants and their larval stages by hacking into the soft ant-hills. 

This one (a male) was probing into the ant-hill as far as it could


Signs of recent chough-feeding activity - sides of ant-hills opened up with numerous yellow ants scurrying around