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Purple on the rocks

  I have the real pleasure of writing my first blog post of 2022 about a trip to Battery Point, Portishead, Bristol to photograph Purple Sandpipers (Calidris Maritima). As many of my readers will know I love waders probably above all bird species and so when I had the opportunity to get some pictures with my good friend Paul Joy of this rare, specially protected and very confiding wader species that winters in the UK coastland I was really excited. Up until this point I had never seen a Purple Sandpiper. They are small waders, bigger than a Dunlin but slightly smaller and less robust than a Turnstone.  They migrate to the UK in the winter from as far away places as Canada, Greenland, Svalbard, Fennoscandia and Russia. They then spend their time along the coasts roosting and feeding on various rocky outcrops. They have a preference for rocks covered with seaweeds where they forage for insects, molluscs and crustaceans. They get their names because of a Purple sheen that can be seen in t

Chatter of birds on Gilwern Hill

Gilwern Hill is a favourite of mine. It adjoins the Pwll Du area and affords some great panoramic views. I would argue its got one of the best views in Gwent.

Yesterday evening I spent a few hours walking the moorland looking for wildlife.

I could hear Red Grouse but they kept out of sight. I disturbed a cock Pheasant that flew off in a fright.

The ferns that grow on the hill are now becoming quite tall and luscious with all this sun we are having. 

Above them soaring a little on the wind blowing over the ridge Meadow Pipits were taking to the air chirping away displaying above their territories. 

Meadow Pipit

The ferns were full of the chatter of small birds. I kept low and hid in the sheep trails amongst the ferns and popped my head up to survey above the ferns. Perched on top were Stonechats. They looked like juvenile or female birds.

The Stonechats were very accommodating and allowed me to creep quite close. They seemed to be keeping a close eye on me bit also a family of Ravens that had landed on a outcrop of rock on a nearby ridge. 

Stonechat

In turn the Ravens watched me intently. Wary birds but also inquisitive. One of the adults, took off  flew over me closely a few times, always keeping its distance but also appeared to be wondering what I was up to.

Raven

As I progressed to the Cairn at the top of the hill the sky was full of Swallows feeding on the swarms of airborne insects. Occasionally I caught sight of a few of them perched on telegraph wires.

Swallow


Linnets were showing in good numbers around the gorse/broom that have formed in large swathes in some locations.

Linnet

I heard the unmistakable laugh of a Green Woodpecker close by whilst heading back towards Pwll Du and saw the Woody at the top of a mound of grass at one of the quarry entrances.

Green Woodpecker

The whole area a sight to behold. Even in winter it has a rugged beauty.

Overall it was a productive evening on the bird watch front and I got some nice pictures.

Panoramic View from Gilwern Hill

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