A much quieter day weather wise and a few hundred guillemots were back on their breeding ledges for a few hours this morning, as is fairly customary on such November days. Most were in summer plumage whereas the majority of birds seen on seawatches at the moment are not indicating they are from further afield. Fulmars were on ledges today too.
Guillemots on ledges this morning - on calm winter days they often return, sometimes in large numbers, for a few hours in the morning
Other parts of the UK have seen some spectacular woodpigeon movements of late so it was nice to get in on the act to some small degree with 230 logged heading west. Large flocks of starlings (650 today) and linnets (150) have been making use of our arable plot this autumn/winter.
A long staying chiffchaff is still at Myharan and the first curlew of the month was logged (up to 100 used to winter here on a regular basis 10 years ago). Redwings have increased of late and yesterday 160 fieldfares were noted heading east. A reed bunting in the garden was the first for some time.
It was a lovely sunrise today which made a change from the unsettled weather of late.....having said that its raining again tonight!
Most years we lamb from our flock of Welsh Mountain ewes to increase the number of grazing animals during the summer months. This is to ensure we keep the grass down to a level that is beneficial to our important chough population who feed on soil invertebrates. When the grass is too long they can't feed effectively and the cooler, shaded soils mean less insects. The animals dung is important for dung beetles which as well as being a good source of food for choughs are in decline nationally (the two facts are not linked!)
So looking ahead to next spring we introduced our Cheviot rams from Brecon to our ladies, most of which are a cross between Glamorgan Welsh ewes and either Llyn or Cheviot rams. Gestation in sheep is around 147 days meaning we can expect our first lambs on or around 15th April
No turning back now!......
Our 3 rams with their red raddle markers - raddle is a waxy substance made from mixing a special powder with cooking oil which is rubbed on the ram's chest which in turn marks the ewes as they are served. This way you can keep track on which ewes have been served and roughly when
Sending Dewi on an outrun to fetch the ewes in the shadow of Carn Llundain
Moving the ewes down towards the ram field
It always pays to check behind the walls! These 4 thought they had escaped the fun and games!
What we want to see! Within half and hour there were red bums everywhere indicating the ewes and the rams approved of each other!
It might be late November but its still warm work......
You can't beat a good shake down! Well deserved as he once again saved us a lot of leg work
Since September we've had fleeting glimpses of a barn owl at dusk around the farm buildings. By day we've found evidence that the bird was roosting in the buildings at night in the form of droppings and pellets containing indigestible animal bones and fur (it was clear the bird had a liking for our voles!). In fact looking at the bird log we had a few sightings back in August, followed by a long gap, but its possible they all relate to the same bird.
We tried to catch the bird on film by setting our camera trap in its favourite haunt but the best we could manage was this prize entry into the 'worst barn owl photo of the year' competition!
A barn owl exiting stage left
This morning our luck changed. I went into the generator room and startled a bird that was sitting on the rafters. It promptly flew headlong into the window with a crash. Fearing the worst I made my way over only for it to spring to its feet, fly over my head and settle on the beam again. Once the dust settled I realised it was our friend the barn owl. We eyed each other up for a while before he or she slowly walked along the beam and settled into a crevice in the roof space. I slowly got my camera out, turned the flash off and got this photo below
Barn owl Tyto alba keeping a beady eye on me (there is nothing wrong with its other eye by the way, it was just winking!)
It is always a pleasure to see these birds, especially up close. Its been a tough couple of weeks weather wise and hunting can't have been easy. With 'Storm Barney' due to hit us tomorrow things are not getting any easier. There are plenty of voles about though so hopefully it is catching enough to get by when it gets the chance.
In other news, Skomer pup 193 that has been covered in the last couple of blogs was fully moulted today. There was no sign of its mother for the first time since they arrived so he or she is now on their own. As you can see from the photo below it is in very good condition so have got as good a chance of any of making through the winter
Pup 193 today at 25 days old. It's come a long way, and been through a lot since.......
.....being born on Skomer on 22nd October