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Thursday, 30 December 2010

A very cold Welsh Christmas break




I have just returned from a very enjoyable trip visiting my family in Fleet, Hampshire and Carmarthenshire, Wales.
Staying over with my cousins in Fleet, I woke up on Friday 24th Christmas Eve to the sound of a Fox not far from the garden barking at around 6.50am.
On my journey from here back to the M4 I was fortunate enough to see 3 separate Red Kites hunting for the food near the road, no doubt forced nearer to human habitation by the extreme cold weather. Even on the M4 near Reading I saw a further 4 Red Kites and incredibly a lone Waxwing flew over the carriageway from left to right in front of the car!
having safely arrived at Llanddarogg I had to park the car on the road as there was too much snow and ice to get the car onto Mum's drive.
With the intense cold and only the main roads passable, I concentrated on areas closest to my family's houses.
Going out early on Christmas day, the ground was carpeted by a thick blanket of snow and the temperature was very, very cold despite wrapping up snuggly the intense cold (the coldest I have witnessed in the UK with no wind) at -15 degrees celsius was stinging my eyes and lips especially. If you exhaled, your breathe froze to ice immediately upon contact to the surfaces of your spectacles or back of the camera!! Icicles hung from the guttering at LLL and the base of a tree by Cymisfael stream.
Not surprisingly birds were in very short supply, a Wren seen by the hedge near Mum's, had done well to survive the night. A Grey Heron twice flew off from the frozen stream and a Grey Wagtail seen here too. A Red Kite flew out of a tall tree in the wood opposite LLL.
The bird feeders at Mike & Su (opp. Mum's) was visited by a wide range of common birds, whilst Mum's feeder hosted up to 2 grateful Nuthatches.
At Llannon farm, at my brother's feeders Nuthatch, Pied Wagtail and Song Thrush seen plus 2 Red Kite perched in trees and flying around the sheep field.
A slight thaw had started by Boxing Day and 3 Nuthatch were seen in the trees and bushes around the stream area, whilst on the stream itself 2 main areas had thawed out and provided vital feeding opportunities for a reasonably confiding Dipper and a Pied Wagtail. Down by the bushes by Whitehall bridge, a calling Willow Tit briefly showed itself before flying off.
2 Nuthatch & Song Thrush were seen by the LLL feeders and a Treecreeper in the trees overhead.
Back at Llannon, Pied wagtail and Nuthatch again seen by the feeders plus 4 Raven flew by croaking!
By Monday 27th Dec, the thaw was in full flow and most of the Cymisfael stream was by now free flowing, the Dipper was still feeding but more difficult to pin down as it had a much wider choice of suitable feeding areas. A Fieldfare and Buzzard flew over as did another Buzzard by the Fox field and in the field behind LLL 2 Raven flew around.
2 Nuthatch again seen by the feeders.



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