06 February 2015

Ickle Bunting

Arrived at the hide 20 minutes after it had 'done one' (largely due to the fact I got horribly lost in the uncharted wilds of Forest Farm).  Waited two hours,... and then a bit,... and then out it popped into the unforgiving midday sun.
When not sheltering in the hazel hurdles-cum-hedge, the wee fella fed directly in front of the olive-clad throng.  Nice find Messers Powell and Gilmore. 

NB.  I should just take this opportunity to bring the readers attention to the borderline subliminal near prediction of this species in last week's post.  Just one county out.  Bugger.  

03 February 2015

The end of an era,... *sob*

I seem to remember some bright spark once wanting to rename these Orange-breasted Scrub-chat,... or did I just make that up?
Having tired of waiting for Nikon to produce a proper update to the D300 (i.e. something built to be bashed about with an AF-ON button, a decent sized buffer, etc.), I have finally replaced mine with a D810 (which is exactly what Nikon are wanting D300/D300s users to do).  That means three things: 1. there is a slight whiff of melancholia in the air due to the passing of a much-cherished camera; 2. the Robin redbreast pictured above is the last bird to grace my D300’s sensor; and 3. I have a handful of accessories that require a new home, namely,…  

1. Two Nikon EN-EL3e rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for use in Nikon D50, D70/D70s, D80, D90, D100, D200, D300, D300s and D700.  Details of which are available on the Nikon website at http://www.europe-nikon.com/en_GB/product/accessories/slr/slr-power/batteries/battery-en-el3e

2. A Kirk BL-D300 L-bracket for use with Nikon D300 and D300s.  Details available on the Kirk Enterprises website at http://www.kirkphoto.com/L-Bracket_for_Nikon_D300.html

3. Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D300 (second edition) ebook and Thom Hogan’s Nikon D300 To Go (2nd edition) ringbound real physical book (a compact reference companion to the ebook).  Some information on the series (though not this particular book, which is no longer available) at http://www.dslrbodies.com/books/

If anyone is interested in the above drop me a line (leave a comment below, email gwentbirdingblog@gmail.com, DM me on Twitter, attach a missive to a pigeon's leg, put a message in a bottle, etc.)  All are in a used but perfectly serviceable state.  I will willingly swap them for small amounts of money, failing that, I might be open to barter (e.g. beer, wine, cakes, a good egg-laying chicken, a young goat, etc., etc.) 

30 January 2015

Doon the patch

A morning on the patch. Water Pipit and Marsh Harrier were the highlights with just enough Water Rails, Stonechats and Cetti's Warblers dotted about to stop me from dozing off. Also a reasonable number of waders on the foreshore with a big flock of Dunlin near the mouth of the Usk.

A half-decent flock of 50 Reed Bunting were knocking about near the seaward end of the floating bridge,... what price a Little?   

29 January 2015

I saw the light

Another week north of the border, mostly spent up to my eyeballs in, increasingly excitable, Crossbills.  Singing their little twisty-schnozzled faces off they were.

Woke up in a snow globe this morning, the sun beat off the last of the snow flurries,... and the visibility was incredible.  It was that clear I could see the future.  I saw unspeakable vulgarity, institutionalised mediocrity, infinite tragedy, little souls rising up and joining a doomed army to fight the good fight and wage the unwinnable war.  I also saw a Crossbill with a half decent wingbar and well-marked tertials, inner secondaries and median coverts to boot.

A 'barred Crossbill', not that you can make it out but the median coverts were pale tipped/edged too. Also note the gross under-exposure, chromatic aberration and almost complete lack of anything in focus. Yay for digiscoping.

PS. Yay for the Divine Comedy too.

24 January 2015

Twmbarlwm shrike

Arrived at Twmbarlwm to screaming kids and scrambler bikes. Thought I was on to miss three Great Grey Shrikes in a week. The bikes buggered of, the kids dispersed and up popped the shrike. Lovely. It covers a fair bit of ground, initially in the dead pines east of, but hidden from, the car park; then in the re-growing clear-fell north-east of the car park; and then heading to the open, bracken clad, slope south-west of the car park.

Digiscoping with the wrong camera,... pointless. 

23 January 2015

Up north again

Another week in southern Scotland; a few Pinkfeet on the way up, Goshawk and gawd knows how many Crossbills during the week, nothing too exciting though.  Also a fair bit of mammal action, tracks everywhere.  Managed to miss out on two Great Grey Shrikes, wrong times, wrong places. 

Peering out across the arctic waste, behind me is a BMW, irretrievably bogged down in a whole two inches of snow.  Useless.  Piece.  Of.  Bavarian.  Shite. 

17 January 2015

It's all gone white again

Woke up to a drop more snow.  Popped up to Manmoel and Pen-y-fan Pond, not too much doing, a couple of frizz Stonechat were about the best of it.  Did get some fine raptors-in-a-snowy-landscape action though,... oooooh, get you and your nicely lit underparts.

Round-and-about Manmoel today; snow, yay!  Beeches, tick.  Bramblings,... only conspicuous by their absence.   

16 January 2015

I went to church

The tower of St. Woolos Cathedral, prime Black Redstart habitat.  It's up there, amongst the swirling mists of myth and fantasy, flitting about between the gargoyles; and I'm down here, peering up, like a modern day, rational empiricist, not-so-saintly Francis of Assisi.  Another one on the non-existent year list.

After the successful bagging of the sanctified start, I thought I'd better pop in on Ynysyfro to ensure a rapid descent back to the oh-so earthly.  Bugger all present except five Shoveler and a Red Admiral fluttering up and down the sunny side of a hedge. 

11 January 2015


The Usk valley swan herd is still showing well at Llandowlais barns.  Counted 21 Bewick's amongst 48 Mutes which, along with last weekend's Whooper at the Nedern, mean I can ignore all things Cygnus for the next 11 months,... unless they are black,... or have black necks,... or have largely black bills. 

A ropey phone-scoped shot of the Whooper can be seen here by the way.

10 January 2015


Uh-oh. Ynysyfro shot its bolt and produced a couple of almost notable birds this morning; can only mean one thing,... that'll be it for the year.  Bobbing about on the windswept waters were two adult winter Mediterranean Gulls accompanied by about 100 Black-heads, a lone Common Gull, one Lesser Black-backed and a few Herrings.  Larid heaven.  The four Shoveler are also still present but the Teal and Wigeon were nowhere to be seen.  Further excitement was provided by the dodgy Mallard partaking of bread by the Fourteen Locks Centre,... cracking views were had by all.

One of the two adult winter Mediterranean Gulls at Ynysyfro Reservoirs this morning but never mind the dross, time for the good stuff,...

... Ooooosh!  The manky Mallard in all his finery with the ladies looking on.