Well this blog seems to have been deep frozen like some of the awful weather we have had the last few months but after a warm Spring afternoon (and some encouragement from a few readers ) it is slowly defrosting. Friday's good local patch find is more inspiration to get the blog rolling again....
I'd started the morning with a wander around Mynydd Mawr, noting a few good birds - mostly diurnal migrants - passing through A steady passage of hirundines was apparent: 40+ Barn Swallow, 27 House Martin and 8 Sand Martin A constant trickle of Meadow Pipits, the odd alba wagtail, 5 Chaffinch, 25 Goldfinch, 4 Siskin and 11 Linnet all powered north The highest numbers of Northern Wheatear so far this year (36) were scattered around the heath, including several peachy Greenland race birds and there was a handful of Willow Warblers in odd places.
Systematic counting was put on hold around midday when I noticed a small bird that seemed to flash blue drop into a small bramble patch alongside the big square field by the lower car park. Having waited 5 minutes for it to reappear I walked up to the brambles (all of 2m square) and found a Dunnock popping out. Oh well, my mistake? Surely "it" was smaller than the offending accentor, and a spot of pishing was in order. At which point a superb Subalpine Warbler poked it's head out then flew along the fence line. Bingo! After years of records virtually every year from a certain small island only a couple of miles away it was good to connect with this lovely Sylvia on the mainland.
The bird showed extremely well all afternoon, feeding actively, flycatching and dozing off at times, and a small band of admirers turned up. Good to see you guys. The plumage, calls and song seem to point towards it being an adult male of the western race, S.c.cantillans. (Edit - it's a 2nd calendar year male). There's a series of nice images by Phil Bellman over at this website.