Lleyn peninsula 29th july- 3rd august
At the end of the LLeyn scratchy hedgehog’d gorse coloured with deep raspberry patches of bell heather that seems to come up through the gorse, maybe grazed off elsewhere by the sheep.
Ravens & choughs around most of the time. Ravens tilting and grunting. One flipping upside down at low level during a shower… seeming determined to get rain on its belly and only righting itself when virtually touching the gorse. The choughs in probably family groups with the youngsters looking darker billed and weedier around the head. Much allopreening. Probing into sheep dunged tussocks, never seeing what it is they are digging after.
Stonechats everywhere, well grown young handsome, a rocky, dunnocky grey with apricot on chest. Barring and streaking reminiscent of a more lively alpine accentor. Mainly watching the adult males, constantly on the go, bobbing sawn off tails, straining into breeze from spiky perch.
Linnets are the other most obvious passerine, the male I sketched with red forehead and chest the colour you get when washing off blood from a wound, where it has got diluted.
Kestrels giving great opportunities for concentrated watching, shoulders like the olympic swimmers. Poised with tension riding from tips of spatula tail feathers, arcing up over back and then spreading across those deep shoulders, the head hanging from here… all focus. Feet as anchor below, clenching in readiness for plummet. Wind is caught under armpits, fanning out with a net of streaked overlapping feathers. The shadow of eyebrow and minimal moustache act as pointers.
On one dive a female (I think) picking up a bank vole and taking it to a fenceline perch. Then dropping down to the ground beneath a gorse tussock. I was cursing that I wouldn’t get to watch its feeding but then saw it drag the vole to another cached position and then fly off.
I went to have a look at the prey, wondering if there might be a ground nest. But it seems that she was just saving it for later, not that well hidden, so some other creature could easily have had a bonus meal.
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