Birding Challenge of Parc Slip Nature Reserve

This year I decided to do a Patchwork year list, joining a few of my birding friends in signing up for the challenge.  Whilst my friends all chose coastal areas to maximise numbers, I decided on Parc Slip due to it’s close proximity to my home in Maesteg and the lure of the new wader scrapes and hide. I have set a target of 100 species for the year, hopefully with the bonus of a rarity or two along the way.

January was a very wet month but most of the common birds were seen along with Kingfisher, Cormorant, Treecreeper, Water rail, Red kite and Bittern. There were flocks of 30+ Teal, 25+ Lesser redpoll, 16 Goldfinch and 30+ Siskin and I ended up with 43 species by the end of the month.

Bullfinch Paul Parsons

February started off very wet too and highlights were Crossbill, Great black back gull and Cetti’s warbler. My first returning Lapwing was seen on 10th and a singing Skylark marked the end of the wettest winter on record on the 16th. A flyover Stock dove on the 25th brought my list up to 55.

March started with a crisp frost on the 1st and Peregrine and Tufted duck were new additions to the list. A flock of 11 Bullfinch were seen on the 6th along with my first moth of the year, a Hebrew character on the Nature centre door.

On the 8th a female Goshawk drifted over the Northern  Wetlands but was mobbed and chased by a Peregrine before I could get my camera out and Lapwing numbers were up to 16. Chiffchaffs were new in on the 11th and a flyover Kestrel took my list to 60 on the 13th. March 20th was cloudy with a brisk Southerly wind, birds seemed on the move with a Cormorant and 50+ herring  gulls passing over the reserve. A pair of Lesser black back gulls were on the Northern wetlands and 4 singing Chiffchaff were noted. On the 24th the wind had turned South easterly, Sparrowhawk and a pair of Jay were seen and new birds for the year were Linnet and a singing Blackcap.

At dawn on the 25th there were 7 Sand martin feeding over the Northern Wetland and  birds were very active in the morning sun. The Canada geese were honking and fighting, Lapwings, Meadow pipits and Skylarks were displaying and the Robins and Thrushes were singing. Another 2 Sand martin flew past the new hide and a Stock dove also  flew through. An afternoon visit on the 29th was quiet until I was walking back from the new hide and the sun came out from the cloud. A cracking Osprey flew right over my head and over the Lapwing field but the tall hedge prevented me getting a photo and a male Swallow was over the field when I got further along, taking my bird list to 65.  The 30th was sunny and warm, 2 more Blackcaps were back and singing and a Goshawk circled high above the reserve. Butterflies were much in evidence with Brimstone, Peacock, Small tortoiseshell and Comma all on the wing.

Northern Wetlands in the Sun Paul Parsons

Northern Wetlands in the Sun Paul Parsons

April was the busiest month for returning migrants which have spent the winter in Southern Europe and Africa. I saw my first Willow warbler on the 3rd and a Canada goose was sitting on a nest on the island of the Northern Wetlands. A second winter Glaucous gull that has been frequenting nearby Mynydd Baeden since February was seen flying north over the reserve on the 8th, the highlight of the month for me. On the 10th a pair of Greylag geese flew low over the wader scrapes and a female Stonechat was in the south western fields. A female Goosander flew east along the railway track on the 12th and my first Whitethroat was singing away on the 14th. A Rook was unexpected, flying south over the monument on the 17th and 2 House martins and a Swift were feeding over the wader scrapes on the 21st. On the 22nd I finally caught up  with the two Wheatear that had been seen on the scrapes and there were 3 singing Reed warblers new in on the same day.Reed Warbler

A Tree pipit was singing near the willow tree on the 24th and single Sedge and Garden warblers were new in on 29th, along with 8 Tufted ducks flying speedily around the scrapes in the low morning mist before heading south. There were 7 of these birds, presumably the same flock, on the Northern Wetland on the 30th. I finished April with 80 species for the year.

Paul Parsons

Catch up with more of Paul’s Patchwork Challenge on the Parc Slip blog