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Skomer Part 1 - The first voyage

A Manx Shearwater I have recently returned from my annual pilgrimage to the island of Skomer, having enjoyed a fabulous three days of birding along the Pembrokeshire coastline with my "Three Amigo" friends Paul and Nicola. We had been planning for the trip for ages. Leading up to our trip the days, hours and seconds seemed to pass ever so slowly. It's then just typical once you end up going on your trip it seems to be over way too quickly - time certainly flies when you are enjoying yourself and in good company. This year we had  arranged three boat trips through Pembrokeshire Boat Trips Day 1 - Seabird Spectacular Day 2 - Skomer Day 3 - Grassholm I have decided to write three blog posts documenting the trip and this is the first one to kick things off. The First Voyage. The weather forecast was looking rather dodgy for the weekend with high winds and rain predicted. Thankfully the dreaded North winds were not expected so there was a very good chance that most of the boat

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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