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Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Since September we have been hearing a Tawny Owl call – usually at dusk. This last week we have heard the calls just before sunrise. Have now stood outside before sunrise and what we are now hearing is more than one Tawny Owl. Not quite sure where but between Capel Seion and Pant yr Crug.
Sue and Terry
Snow bunting at Ynyslas north point today. Also... on Sunday 8th, 24 common snipe at marshy area beside Penycefn Res. near Bontgoch, also c.200 Common gulls regularly on nearby fields, and 14 Wigeon on Mynydd Gorddi pool. At Cors fochno yesterday 6 snipe and female hen harrier.
Monday, 9 December 2013
Yesterday a male Hen Harrier also cruised by at close range and the dipper was under the railway track near the car park.
The walk in the afternoon was well attended and we were blessed with sunshine (though in our eyes as we marched down the track) and a vivid sunset as we made our way back. We were all moaning about the paucity of winter thrushes around recently but happily saw 2 small groups feeding on the fields east of the track and caught a distant view of a male Harrier later glowing in the rays of a low sun.
In between we were guided around the Cruglas ponds by the landowner and conservation farmer, Terry Mills. The suite of carefully sited ponds is surrounded by a mosaic of habitats large enough to encourage all sorts of wildlife from water voles and otter to some of the scarcer bird species that arrive for the winter. The trees and hedges are a haven for birds and invertebrates throughout the year as a result of assiduous management and advance planning which gives them a sporting chance against the many predators that go looking for food. Whilst there we saw a Peregrine do a drive through with buzzards and kites also in attendance. Highlight for many of us were the swirling flocks of Teal put up by our presence; over 300 birds. Terry mows small zones of rush to create the favourite feeding habitat for snipe and we saw 3 take off on their towering escape flight but not unfortunately the secretive little bobber, Jack, which Terry had seen earlier. Snipe are never shot at Cruglas though it is still a quarry species(unbelievably) and are shot by the other owner of shooting rights (see my earlier post).
Cruglas is a shooting estate in the traditional style where etiquette still matters: shooting is on few occasions and the bag strictly limited, non-lead shot is compulsory and care is taken to pick up wounded birds ( by Terry's talented and faithful old Labrador). Feeding the ponds costs a small fortune and whereas it does monopolise the duck on the bog it is a life saver in hard winters and enables birds to get in good condition for breeding). Agri-environment payments help in running such a wildlife friendly farm but if all the recipients made the same effort we might not be looking at the disastrous drop in farmland bird numbers recently publicised.
Many of us would prefer that wild birds are not shot at but Terry Mills at Cruglas is showing how best practice can benefit all sorts of wildlife and can be compatible with co-existing with a NNR on the doorstep.
All enjoyed the afternoon and expressed sincere thanks to Terry for showing us around his private wildlife wonderland.
PS There is a public footpath that crosses the bog at the northern end but it is imperative to stick to the signed path and not stray onto quite dangerous boggy ground. Dogs must be on short leads all through the year for the benefit of wildlife and the animals grazing the bog. It should not be attempted in times of high rainfall as the river rises very suddenly, is swift flowing and overtops the banks obscuring the path. Its unsuitable for anyone with any difficulty in walking rough, boggy ground.
The River Walk is closed next Sat 14th.Dec.
Sunday, 8 December 2013
Not sure if you'll remember me but I used to be a student at Aberystwyth Uni, I used to come out with the Ceredigion Bird Group on the organised walks .
I remember you kindly posted something when I first started out with my art business so I thought anyone who might remember that might like to see my progress. Would it be possible for you to post a little something about my artwork on your blog? Which is still very much going strong I see. I keep up with it on my Blogger feed, makes me just a tad homesick for Aber though. I do so miss it there!
I thought I'd share a couple of bird drawings I've completed over the last couple of years, one of the Dyfi's own Ospreys who sadly didn't return this year, Nora. The title for this is "Blumin' Nora". And a Barn Owl, the chosen subject for my Christmas Cards this year (images attached). I'm also partway through a Puffin Study portrait from my time spent on Skomer as a volunteer in 2011 so I've attached a progress picture for you. I have the same website as before but it had a makeover this year with the addition of an online shop at www.megghyll.co.uk.
I hope all is well with you and yours Bob! I still keep in touch with Len and Red, not as well as I should but I've been planning to come back to Aber for a visit (time didn't allow this year) so when I do I might just have to time it to coincide with a Bird Walk!
Bit of an essay of an email, my apologies. If you could post anything at all I would be most grateful!
All the best for Christmas and New Year, and please pass on my best wishes to the Ceredigion Bird Group. Perhaps I will have the good fortune to see you all again when I next visit.