Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Welsh trip - Part 3

Well apologies for the absence. First I had major laptop problems and then real life got in the way for a while! Back to Wales.......after getting off the boat back from Skomer, we went to a little reserve just down the road called Marloes Mere. 
 There were some Barn Swallows swooping and chattering around the car park and a couple settled briefly. I managed to get a couple of shots. 
The Gorse was in full flower and we were assaulted by its wonderful coconut scent as we walked along the lane.
I think this Dunnock was enjoying the scent too! (-:
One of the reasons we came to this little reserve was that there had been a report of a Glossy Ibis there. We didn't find it at first but some patient sitting in the small hide finally produced a sight of this amazing bird in flight. No photos as it was quite distant, but while we were waiting for the Ibis, we were entertained by a Coot going back and forth with nesting material. 
 The reflection of a Gorse bush made for a lovely photo opportunity.
The final part of my Welsh trip will be in the next post which hopefully wont take so long to get up! (-:

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Welsh trip - Part 2 - Other wildlife on Skomer

Having OD'd on Puffins (never!), this post has all the other birds and wildlife we saw on Skomer that day. This area below was particularly good for Puffins, Kittiwakes and Fulmars. It was also incredibly windy!!!
I spent quite a while trying to get some decent photos of the Fulmars as they flew up and down and around this area. Unfortunately the sun was almost directly facing me. I did manage a few shots though. 
 A Raven  overhead with its lovely 'kronking' call.
 Back on the ground this Meadow Pipit was busy looking for food. 
 Striding out!
There were a few Northern Wheatears breeding on the island. I didn't get close to any so these are distant shots, heavily cropped. I've included them as they are such stunning looking birds!
 We found a wide part of the path to just sit and watch the Puffins for a while.
 One of the numerous rabbits breeding on the island. This one was a bit shy! (-:
Among the more normal rabbits were some completely black ones. This one wasn't so shy! (-:
 The nearest we got to seeing a Manx Shearwater on this trip was as a carcass I'm afraid. They spend the day out at sea and come in to their burrows just as it's getting dark to try and avoid getting predated by the gulls. Some still get picked off though. Shame!
 After spending 5 hours on the island, it was time to make our way back to the boat.  While waiting for the boat to arrive, I managed to get some shots of a Razorbill which was perched on the cliff just below us. 
The view looking from Skomer back to the mainland of south west Wales in the distance.
On the boat back there were a couple of photo opportunities as the crossing was a lot calmer! An agile Herring Gull which caught scraps in mid air thrown by the captain. It was too close to get properly full frame!
 And finally some Northern Gannets which were diving for fish reasonably close to us.
 There'll be more from South Wales in my next post.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Welsh trip - Part 1 - Puffin fest!

It has taken some time to sort through my photos from this trip, but I've managed it at last! (-: We stayed in a beautiful place called Laugharne on the south Welsh coast. Here's some history about the place from Wikipedia.

Laugharne /ˈlɑrn/ (Welsh: Talacharn) is a town in Carmarthenshire, Wales, lying on the estuary of the River Tâf. It is known for having been the home of Dylan Thomas from 1949 until his death in 1953, and is thought to have been an inspiration for the fictional town of Llareggub in Under Milk Wood. The Township was originally known as Abercorran, but this was changed to Laugharne after the Civil War, in honour of Major-General Rowland Laugharne, a renowned local army officer, who had commanded a Parliamentarian army, before rebelling in 1648.

In the early 12th century, grants of lands were made to Flemings by Henry I when their country was flooded, and later they were joined by Flemish soldiers banished by Henry II.[1] They were weavers and dyers and were such an influence that Welsh was hardly ever heard in Laugharne.
A castle, known originally as the Castle of Abercorran, existed in Laugharne before the Norman Conquest and belonged to the princes of South Wales. Henry II visited it in 1172 on his return from Ireland and made peace with Prince Rhys of Dinefwr. Through the marriage of Prince Rhys' daughter, the castle passed to Sir Guy de Brian, who had been Lord High Admiral of England. His daughter Elizabeth inherited the castle and married Owen Laugharne of St. Bride's who gave his name to the castle.
Possession passed to the Crown and during the 16th century belonged to Sir John Perrot, returning to the crown after his death. In 1644 the castle was garrisoned for the king and taken for Parliament by Major-General Rowland Laugharne, who subsequently reverted to the king's side. This led Cromwell to lay siege to the castle, burning and leaving it in ruins.
Laugharne is mentioned as being affected by the Bristol Channel floods, 1607. It is not known whether this had any long-term effects on the town, but it may have contributed to the silting up of the harbour, which at one time had seen imports of coal and tobacco from the New World.

A photo of the atmospheric ruined castle.
For our first full day we planned to catch the boat across to Skomer Island which is famous for its breeding Puffins and Manx Shearwaters.  It was a bank holiday weekend in peak Puffin time so we left very early to make sure we got onto one of the limited places in the boat across. (only 250 people are allowed onto the island in any given day and the boat carries around 50 people). We managed to get onto the first crossing at 10am so we had plenty of time for some birding and sight seeing first.
Here's a view of Skomer Island from the mainland.
My birding friends, Jane, Lou and Emma after watching an obliging Grasshopper Warbler. Even though this was early May, you can see that we're still in winter birding gear!
At last, it was time to get down to the jetty to take the boat across to Skomer. It's the small blue and white boat in the photo below.
The rest of the photos in this post are of Puffins. We were told by the warden that they're quite late coming back to the Island to breed, so I wasn't surprised to see that there were not as many around as the last time I was here many years ago. Still, enough for some lovely photo opportunites! (-:
The next post will be about all the other birds and wildlife we saw on Skomer.