The Zoologist/4th series, vol 2 (1898)/Issue 683/Ornithological Notes from Mid-Wales
ORNITHOLOGICAL NOTES FROM MID-WALES.
By J.H. Salter.
Though rather late to record the fact, it may be worth noting that an unusually large flock of Bar-tailed Godwits visited the estuary of the Dovey about the first week in September, 1895. Mr. F.T. Feilden tells me that on the day of their arrival he walked to within forty yards of them, and that the flock could not have numbered less than two hundred. Later in the day he got a shot at part of them with a four-bore gun, and bagged eleven, and one Curlew Sandpiper; and a few days later a second shot bagged nine, and one Knot. On Dec. 9th of the same year, at Penglais House, I found, amongst various stuffed birds obtained by the late Captain Richards, a local specimen of the Waxwing, and also the only Cardiganshire Dotterel of which I have any knowledge.
Owing to absence from home I have no notes for the spring and summer of 1896. As already recorded, the late September gales of that year brought an unusual visitation of Sabine's Gull. As far as I can learn, eight were obtained in the course of the three days (Sept. 24th-26th). Another was seen on Sunday morning (27th), and the last one was obtained on the morning of Oct. 8th—which will be long remembered here for its gale and high tide—making in all nine taken, ten seen. A young Black Tern and Grey Phalaropes were obtained at the same time.
On Oct. 22nd, 1896, a Chaffinch was singing its imperfect autumn song, which I have very rarely heard, though Mr. O.V. Aplin (Zool. 1894, p. 412) states that he hears it every year. On Oct. 30th I listened to the Missel Thrush's autumn song, which I only recollect to have heard upon one previous occasion. Common Buntings and a Cirl Bunting were singing freely upon Christmas Day. The latter, an increasing species here, has sung at intervals all through the past autumn and mild winter.
The remainder of my notes refer to the past year.
On Feb. 16th a Stonechat was coming into song, and on March 13th I heard the Wood Lark. A Dipper was sitting on five eggs, which on March 31st appeared to be within a day or two of hatching, under the archway of a stream between Cemmes Road and Llanbrynmair. At the same place a Chiffchaff was silently making its way down the valley from willow to willow, confirming my view that many of the migrants reach Cardiganshire by this route—that followed by the Cambrian Railway. In early April I found Buzzards numerous at Dinas Mawddwy. The snow had driven them down to the woods in the vicinity of the hotel. Only one pair of Ravens was seen; they were making over towards Lake Vyrnwy, the Liverpool reservoir, where they were reported to be nesting on the rocks above the lake. Both pairs of Ravens occupied their usual nesting sites upon the coast near Aberystwyth, and on April 28th I found a pair breeding at Craig y Pistyll; young ones could be heard in the nest. A pair of Choughs occupied their usual sea-cave near the Ravens.
On May 12th, a bitterly cold day, I found Curlews sitting upon three and four eggs respectively. On the 14th I noted a pair of Ravens breeding at the lower end of the Nant Berwyn, near Tregaron. They sailed out from the hill-side, coughing and growling till the rocks rang again. On the same day, at Nant y Stalwen, I saw five stalwart young Ravens, fully fledged, strung up against a barbed-wire fence, and on the following day I was offered two young ones which had been taken that morning from the nest at Pwll Uffern. On the 15th I saw a Kite go down the valley; it was sailing almost in Buzzard style, without much flapping. The birds had attempted to nest once more in their favourite tree, and fresh marks of climbing irons indicated that the eggs had been taken, making the fifth year in succession in which they have been obtained from this nest. A dealer visits the district regularly in quest of Kites' eggs, and the extinction of the birds can only be a matter of a year or two. A Tree Creeper's nest close by was lined with Kites' feathers. A Buzzard's nest contained two newly-hatched young, and an egg from which a third one had failed to extricate itself. By way of provision, the nest contained a half-eaten mole. I was told that in every brood of young Buzzards the strongest individual kills its nest fellows, and in all cases where I have seen young Buzzards in the nest one precocious chick has bullied the other one, or sometimes two, unmercifully. The next day a second Buzzard's nest contained two eggs which were chipping to hatch.
Pied Flycatchers were singing on every hand, and were already building, though, owing to the backward spring, the oak woods were as bare as at mid-winter. I noticed, as on previous occasions, that the Flycatchers were very fond of tenanting a hole which has been previously occupied by the Greater Spotted Woodpecker.
As usual in this hill-district, I found the Wood Warbler very numerous, almost to the exclusion of the Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. In the Nant Berwyn its note drew my attention to a Lesser Redpoll, a bird which I have long been on the look-out for, but have never previously seen in this county. It must have been breeding.
On May 19th a Buzzard's nest in the neighbourhood of Pont Erwyd contained one egg which looked incubated. On the night of the 20th, which was still and warm, I heard the Manx Shearwater's note about 11 p.m. In Cwm Woods, on the 23rd, I listened to the Golden Oriole's call coming from the tops of the oaks, followed by its harsh note. Both were familiar, as I had heard them daily on the Rhine. The bird was on migration, and must have passed on at once, as I failed to hear it subsequently. I believe this is the first reliable record for the county.
On May 26th I visited the colony of Lesser Black-backed Gulls upon the Teifi Bog, about twelve miles from the sea. Four nests which were found contained three eggs apiece. About thirty of the birds were on the wing. Five Whimbrel were still upon the strand on May 30th; they continue to pass all through the month.
On June 2nd I saw a Buzzard about the rocks at Pistyll y Llyn. I found a few pairs of Redshanks breeding on June 6th at Mochras Island, south of Harlech. A Nightjar was sitting upon two eggs which were laid upon bits of cork and cinder, the flotsam of an unusually high tide in the lagoon. On the following day I noted a family of Ravens about the rocks at Cwm Bychan lake. A Turtle Dove's nest at Llangorwen contained two eggs which were hatching on June 22nd, and I subsequently heard the note of this bird at Love's Grove; but so scarce is it as a breeding species in Western Wales that, though always on the look-out for the past six years, I had never met with it previously. The Wood Lark sang on Sept. 30th.
On Oct. 2nd I called to see a Kite in the hands of the local birdstuffer. It was said to be an old male, and was, I am afraid, a member of the small and dwindling colony above mentioned. A Kestrel got up hurriedly from the cliff on Oct. 22nd, dropping a half-eaten Thrush as it rose. I have long thought that the Kestrel's misdeeds in this direction are more numerous than is generally supposed. A pair of Choughs, long absent from this immediate neighbourhood, frequented the hill at the northern end of Aberystwyth all through the autumn, apparently for the sake of hunting for beetles amongst the slates and debris due to the making of a tramway.
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