A gull's eye view

Monday 6 December 2010, 11:21

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron

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It's very icy again today which seems to sum up the weekend weather quite well really.

I was surprised at how heavy a frost we had on the coast during Saturday and Sunday but at least it was dry with blue sky and sunshine - in SE Wales anyway.

My windscreen wiper fluid is supposed to be good for minus 8 degrees Celsius but it was rendered useless? So it must have been cold! I'm hoping Derek will enlighten us all later...

The M4 corridor heading east was bathed in a thick blanket of fog today with snow and frost covering everything as far as the eye could see so you'll definitely need your side lights on if driving today.

Rest Bay during a chilly, Sunday afternoon walk.

Rest Bay in the sun on my chilly, Sunday afternoon walk.

It's a great time of year to wrap up warm and go for a walk though. I headed down a trail near Rest Bay yesterday afternoon and saw all sorts of bird life.

At the start of the walk I spotted a one collared dove - (once very common but no longer so) as well as some rooks, crows and starlings all busily feeding in recently ploughed fields.

A little further on where horses graze I found the local lapwing flock who seem to blitz the local fields daily, moving off in large numbers every time they're spooked by walkers. In amongst them were blackbirds, song thrushes and everyone's wintry favourite - the fieldfare.

A black headed gull perched on a railing by Mark Jones.

A black headed gull perched on a railing by Mark Jones.

As I neared the beach, black headed gulls - now lacking their distinct black heads, sat on telegraph poles eagerly eyeing up any left over chips from surfers, making the most of a small, clean but powerless two foot swell.

The tide was low and the beach bathed in sunshine but the cold northerly wind was keeping it crowd free apart from the odd dog walker.

On the return leg I spotted the tell-tale skittish flight of goldfinches - again tricky to get near to without scaring off. Meanwhile a dunnock hopped along the tops of the hedgerows stalking me - no doubt hoping I'd provide some food.

Dunnocks are funny little birds. During the summer months you hardly notice them - skulking about in the undergrowth with their drab, brown plumage. But in winter they become a bit more adventurous and their colour becomes far more distinct, so they actually resemble a bird rather than a mouse.

Icicles stuck to a frozen plant by Richard Harris.

Icicles stuck to a frozen plant by Richard Harris.

In a field to my right were two oystercatchers, busily probing bright red bills into the green grass in search of worms. It always strike me as odd, seeing them in this environment (alongside horses) as I'm so used to seeing them on rocky seashores. I must remember to take my camera with me next time and show you what I mean.

And last but not least a large buzzard swooped lazily overhead before taking up a perch on the local stable roof. I tried my best to walk stealthily around the corner and out flank him, but he'd clocked me long before I'd got within 50 feet and was gone!

It's amazing how much is still out there really. Even on the coldest of days, I'd spotted at least ten species of bird without even trying.

And don't forget - you can watch Iolo's Secret Life of Birds on BBC i-player currently. All the episodes so far are on there, for your viewing pleasure :)


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