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Shooting Welsh wildlife; little bunting - Nigel Addecott

(March 01, 2015)

A 'little' challenge - the visitor from the east

Little bunting at Forest Farm

The work-phone rang. An excited, out of breath voice asked, "Where are you mate?" Recognising the voice, I replied, "Not running a marathon like you. What’s up?" Then, after a short pause, he said, "Get yourself down to Forest … CLICK …… " The line went dead! I tried to call him back, but, despite my continued efforts, could not get through. Now I was pondering which forest he meant. Was it the Forest of Dean? The New Forest? Fforestfach? The list was endless! But more importantly, why?

Some 45 minutes later my telephone rang again. It was the same friend I had spoken with earlier. "There's a little bunting at Forest Farm." WOW!

Little buntings (emberiza pusilla), smaller than reed buntings, have a reddish-brown head and crown, with black crown stripes, gingery-brown cheeks bordered black at the rear and a pale eye ring. Breeding in northeast Europe and Russia, they summer in southeast Asia and India; very rare visitors to our part of the world. Only the third Welsh record and a Cardiff and Welsh tick for me; the first I would have seen for many, many years. And only a few miles from home!!

I managed to get out of work pretty quick, get home, grab my camera and binoculars, and get to the reserve centre. I was met by a full car park and now had a long walk to the hide, as all the parking spaces had gone. Unpacking the car and walking to the hide, the usual things ran through my mind, 'Will it still be there? Will there be room in the hide?' Eventually I reached the hide door. I opened it slowly, to be met by … no one! The car park was full as there was a field meeting on the reserve, which thankfully left the hide empty.

 

Little bunting at Forest Farm Little bunting at Forest Farm

Little bunting at Forest Farm

Next job was to locate the bird. Going through the birds in front of me, I could see: a reed bunting; another reed bunting; yet another reed bunting; a blackbird; and nothing else. My telephone rang again. "Is it there?" were the first words. "Nope. Nothing other than reed buntings ..." I replied. Then, as I was pronouncing the 's' in buntings, there it was. A little bunting not four feet from me, directly underneath the edge of the hide; too close to get a photograph!! Eventually a few other birders and photographers turned up, yet the bird either flew off to a distant bush or fed within feet of the hide, making the job of photographing it rather difficult. I decided on a new tactic: give up and come back the following morning.

 

Little bunting at Forest Farm Little bunting at Forest Farm

Little bunting at Forest Farm

The next morning was dull and very overcast. The bunting was playing the same game and, just as the day before, either too distant or too close! Plan ‘C’ it was; give up (again) and come back the following morning. The third morning arrived. I was greeted with sunshine, a clear blue sky and a heavy frost.

At the hide I opened the door to be greeted by a dozen or so birders and photographers. Waiting my turn a gap in the crowd opened. Without thinking about it, I took my chance and managed a few shots of it … now in the bushes to the side of the hide … then on the ground a bit further out. Within 30 minutes the light had become too harsh, back-lighting the subject. Time for a hasty retreat and a well-earned breakfast!

Little bunting at Forest Farm

Little bunting at Forest Farm

Little bunting at Forest Farm

Nigel Addecott, March 2015

Forest Farm is a country park and nature reserve in Whitchurch, Cardiff, which includes Long Wood SSSI (site of special scientific interest). Stradling the Glamorganshire Canal, it is bordered to the west and south by the River Taff, Asda Coryton to the north and by Whitchurch Hospital to the east.

Open 24/7, 365 days a year, Radyr Station (the nearest) is accessable by footbridge across the Taff. Forest Farm has free entry, with free daytime parking, and is wheelchair friendly.

Further information on the site is provided by Friends of Forest Farm
Map link
; showing location, bird hides, car parks and footpaths

All images © Nigel Addecott

These, and many more, beautiful images are available on Nigel Addecott's wildlife photography website.

If you liked this, you'll also enjoy:
    
Water voles of Magor Marsh, December 2014

    
The Dinefwr badger sett, September 2014

    
Summer visitors, June 2014

    
The Puffins of Skomer Island, March 2014

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