Thursday 8 February 2024

Wedns 7th Feb - Bosherston Lakes (a.m); Castlemartin Corse (p.m)

Yesterday morning we headed over to Bosherston Lakes to see if the scaups were still present. The three greater scaups (2 females and the young male in transition plumage) were with two tufted ducks (male and female) in the usual area of the upper eastern arm. The young male lesser scaup (slightly more advanced in its plumage transition) was resting with a single different male tufted duck closer to the reedbed. It was nice to be able to compare their plumage and structural differences. 

The young male greater scaup

The young male lesser scaup

Lesser Scaup

Eleven little grebes were resting near the shore on the lower eastern arm where a great crested grebe made short work of catching and then dispatching a reasonable-sized perch. We’re pretty sure that they were all aware of two otters that were also feeding nearby. Goosanders, also feeding in the lake, numbered eight in the lower arm and two in the upper arm.

It did not take very long for the grebe to catch and swallow the perch but possibly longer to digest it! 

Several adult cormorants were resting in lakeside trees, displaying their subtle but nevertheless resplendent breeding plumage.  Two local adult herons should start breeding any day now and two ravens were behaving very territorially in a regular location.  Coot numbered about 21 or so in the upper eastern arm but where were the gadwall that usually associated with them here? We saw none. At the top of the lake system eight goldfinches feeding on alder cone seed were accompanied by a female siskin, we looked hard but could only see one siskin in the area.

A single siskin, quietly but earnestly feeding with a small flock of goldfinches

There is something to be admired in the breeding plumage of an adult cormorant

We had not visited Castlemartin Corse for some time but decided to do a late afternoon-dusk visit to see what was around. it was nice to bump into Caroline Pickett in the shelter/hide.  She and Annie spotted the great white egret coming over – I caught the tail end of it just before it landed in the reedy pool. A female marsh harrier was hunting over the reedbed and eventually the pallid harrier came down slope from the Gupton area and provided some reasonable views as it hunted over the area, occasionally settling in the vegetation. A juvenile peregrine was also hunting in the area,  sparring with the pallid harrier for a second or two on the far side of the reedbed. A few hundred or so lapwings (noted initially in two separate flocks) were often in air in the valley. We're not sure how many teal, wigeon or shovelers were hidden in the reedy pool, but at least 10 shovelers could be seen and constant calling of the others suggested quite a reasonably number. A few water rails and cetti's warblers were also heard but not seen. 

Two choughs (a likely pair from Castlemartin Range) were feeding in a field near Starman’s Hall and four others (most likely the ones seen earlier in the day by Richard) were feeding on the Kilpaison side where there was a scattering of at least a dozen or so stock doves feeding among the large sheep flock over there.  Three little grebes in breeding plumage appeared late in the afternoon. 

Small numbers of starlings appeared to be gathering to roost in the reeds. However, being distracted by an altercation between a patch of rather deep and sticky soft mud and a wellington boot (the mud won, leaving the wellington boot owner with a rather soggy wet foot) we failed to notice if they did roost there or not. An interesting day all round, but we should have been more aware of the very poor state of the Castlemartin Corse access route conditions during a wet period!