Thursday, 8 March 2012

On my Bike

The recent mild weather encouraged me to pump up the tyres on my bike and armed with my camera I set off in the direction of Mumbles calling first to Singleton Park. I have become a frequent visitor to this nearby park over the winter to feed the birds. Some of the birds will actually come and feed out of your hand, especially the bold Great Tits.

Great Tit enjoying my nuts!!
  Blue Tits and Robins are not so bold and you have to be patient for these birds to come and feed from your hand. The robin will serenade you like no other bird and the range and diversity of its song is really incredible. Whereas the Great Tit will land in your hand and spend some time inspecting the nuts, the Robin makes a quick dash and grab.
I already knew that Robins are quite an aggressive bird from various sources but I have now witnessed this first hand from my various visits to the park. As well as feeding the birds nuts out of my hand, I also place bird seed in various locations throughout the park. A Robin will descend and stand guard at one of the feeding stations and will see off any other bird that dares to come and try and take some of the bird seed. It is quite surprising to see larger birds flee from the aggressive Robin but equally surprising is to see the little Blue Tit who will sometimes stand up against the bullying Robin. The battles that ensue happen so rapidly that it is difficult to capture in video mode. In the video clip below you will see the Ble Tit hanging upside down below the Robin. They had already had one fistycuff  when the Robin made another attack on the Blue Tit but it was the smaller Blue Tit who won the day and was able to sit at the dinner table eventually in peace.

An unusal resident in the park is a female Ring Necked Parakeet. I do not know whether she is a local escapee or one of the now established colony of 30 -40,000 resident parakeets from the south east of England. Maybe they are extening their range or just that she got blown off course one windy day.

She seems happy enough and is usually in the company of Jackdaws who strangley enough tolerate and seem to enjoy her company. I cannot help feeling sorry for her though as these are a gregarious bird which congregate in large flocks and this can account for her mingling with the Jackdaws.
Amongst the rich variety of birds in the park, I think my favourite has to be the colourful Nuthatch. This bird will not feed out of your hand but as well as being an attractive bird its feeding technique is quite interesting. The Tits will take a nut and the fly off to an adjacent branch where it will hold the nut with a claw and then peck away at the nut. The Nuthatch however, will take it to a tree and wedge it into the bark of the tree and then being a member of the Tree Creeper family will cling to the side of the tree and peck away at the nut.

Another unusual resident is a male Blackbird. Nothing unusal in that you might suppose, but this is a partial albino Blackbird that has been about for some years now.
On with my journey and back on my bike. I eventually cycled onto the promenade and headed down towards Mumbles. There is a dinghy parked up on the promenade down at Oystermouth with a rather unusual name. The owner I assume has a strange sense of humour??
I stopped off on the Mumbles Pier as I am accustomed to for a short break with the intention of cycling on to Caswell. Here is a nice shot of the pier from a previous visit.

The view I am usually confronted with when I stop off at the pier is as below:
 But on this particular day the tide was well out and after taking a couple of shots with the zoom lens I was able to ascertain that the tide was still going out. The people in the next shot were between the middle and outer island and obviously waiting for the channel to clear so that they could get out onto the island that holds the landmark Mumbles light house.
It dawned on me that here was my opportunity to go out onto the island. I have lived in Swansea all my life and from my living room window I have a view of the light house. Yet, I have never venutred out there. So I secured my bike to the railings on the pier and set off across the rocks. I soon realised that this may have been a mistake as I had the wrong footwear and soon had an attack of some awfull foot cramps whilst clambering over the rocks. I was not to be daunted however and persevered. The first thing that I became aware of is the number of steps  that you have to ascend which you can see from the previous and the next photo.
I was not to be deterred however, and for some reason I had a perpetual smug smile on my face. The reason was, because here I was doing a "first". This was the first time ever that I was going onto this island. I was rewarded with vistas I had never experienced before and was able to get up close to the gun emplacments and of course the light house. I  took the opportunity to take some photos and here are some below.

On the final ascent to the light house

Outer gun emplacement

Looking west towards the coastguard station

The sun was getting low in the sky and the temperature was starting to drop, so time to head back to the mainland and hopefully my bike has not been stolen?
On the way back I took the opportunity to take some more shots

On my way back to the pier I noticed a man standing on the cliffs but what caught my attention were the clouds.
Cycling back home along the promenade I made another stop to take another photo of the clouds. I have fore some reason a fascination with clouds??
So, quite an enjoyable day and why? Because I had done something new. Also, what had I learned? Wear appropriate footgear at all times and that Robins are bullies.

Right, off to feed the birds now.


  1. I have been enjoying your photos and accounts. The Robin in flight photo is particularly striking.

    1. Thank you Caroline. I was rather pleased with that photo myself. It was fairly difficult trying to capture the moment as I had nuts in the one hand and the camera in the other. The robin flew in very quickly so I was fortunate to get that particular shot.