• Thu. Nov 30th, 2023


The Pet encyclopedia

Snow bunting, Ring ouzel and ‘Sibe chiff’

 Yesterday evening Fiona and I returned to Martin’s haven in hopes of seeing the yellow browed warbler, after Brian had seen it again earlier in the day. By the time we got there it was chilly, and wind was funneling strongly up the valley. We stood watching the willows for half an hour or so. Before giving up we wandered down towards Martin’s haven beach. A ‘phyllosc’ gave itself up in the bracken, calling regularly. The call was distinctive, and having seen dozens in Shetland last autumn, we quickly realised it sounded like a siberian chiffchaff. It worked its way up the valley, calling loudly, but remaining low in the bracken and gorse. We managed occasional poor views, before it flitted across the road and into the willows. No sign of the YBW or anything else in the withies, but seems likely they were hunkered down! 

This morning I headed to st David’s head. It started off promising. The area around the YHA produced about twenty or so redwing and a similar number of blackbirds, a handful of chiffchaff and blackcaps, and dozens of goldcrest. A cettis warbler in some gorse scrub before we YHA was an unusual sight.

Upon dropping into the valley a small group of thrushes were obvious amongst the stunted hawthorns, two female-type ring ouzels were with them. As got my camera, I noticed a bird of prey, drifting over Carn Llidi and into the valley. It was obviously a ringtail harrier sp. Unfortunately, it dropped down against the eastern side of the valley and flew northwards, making it difficult to watch or photograph. The withies were very quiet, with only a handful of goldcrest, and thirty or so siskin dropping in briefly. A merlin wizzed through a couple of times too. 

Overhead passage was strong, good numbers of skylark and chaffinch were moving, with a few meadow pipits mixed in. As such I decided to wander out to the head, where pipits and buntings often seem to drop down. It was extremely quiet, I’d walked from the far end of the valley, all the way to the head, and seen only a single stonechat. Right at the head I heard the familiar call of a snow bunting. The bird flew directly overhead, being pursued by three rock pipits, and dropped down amongst some rocks a hundred meters or so away. As I made my way towards the spot, the pipits began to harass the bunting again, and pushed it another hundred meters or so. This continued for an hour or so before I decided I’d had enough. 

Later I checked Pencnwc and Rhosson, but only a group of six reed buntings to show for it.