Creeping around Pontypool Park


Treecreeper ( Certhia familiaris)

I've been spending quite a bit of time chilling out in Pontypool Park recently but contrary to the title of this blog post I have not been up to any mischief. Instead I've been enjoying the wonderful parkland and the wildlife that inhabits it.

The weather this weekend has been pretty horrendous but despite the grey skies and impending sense that a heavy downpour of rain was due any time soon I ventured out to get some fresh air and bird therapy.

The Afon Llywd river was in full flow as I crossed the bridge from the Italian Gardens into the main park. Looking down from the bridge I heard the call of a pair of Grey Wagtails and then a Dipper flew downstream call as it disappeared from view.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

A Song Thrush ran across a grassy area beneath a magnificent Magnolia Tree and as I tracked the thrush I saw nice spread of Celandine and Wood Anemone flowers. Growing close by was a clump of Wild Ransom ( Garlic). The amazing smelling and edible plant has come into bud but its not flowering yet. As I broke a bit of leaf off and smelled the wonderful garlic aroma in the corner of my eye I caught sight off a small bird that dropped from a nearby tree trunk and flew to another tree ahead of me. 

I looked at the Beech Tree trunk it had landed on and saw a small almost mouselike little bird that busily started moving up the tree foraging for food in the bark.

The Welsh name  for Treecreeper is "Dringwr Bach", which means "Little Climber".

The bird was a Tree Creeper (Certhia familiaris). These species habitually live on deciduous and coniferous trees in woods and parkland. They are specially adapted for life on tree trunks. They have Woodpecker like sharp claws that point in both directions. The tails is stiff and helps to balance it when climbing up sheer sided tree trunks. The beak is long and curved so they can find insects in very small cavities in the bark. The Treecreepers Plumage is cryptic and acts as amazing camouflage. The bird has a very white underbelly and this is about the only thing that gives them away when they move. 

The flash of a white underbelly often helps to spot the little bird against the bark.

The Treecreeper was quite accommodating and on several occasions stopped and looked at me. It was almost always on the move and I watched it catch several small grubs which it quickly gobbled up.

Then it moved on to another tree, landing towards the bottom of the trees trunk and always moving upwards - never downwards.

Treecreepers have wonderful cryptic plumage that serves as camouflage to keep then hidden from predators.

 After patiently waiting for about twenty minutes the Treecreeper finally landed on a tree trunk that was in good light giving me a brief chance to take a photograph of it posing nicely.

All my photographs in todays post were taken using my Olympus OM-1 Camera system and a Zuikio 100-400mm lens. I am really enjoying using the Olympus kit. The autofocus did well in low light and when I kept the shutter speed down I got some nice sharp images as a result.


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