Monday, 20 April 2009

Beautiful Birds (6): A red star weekend

You have heard of a red letter day: well, this was my redstar(t) weekend!

Thanks to Mistlethrush, Matt at Polyolbion and other birding bloggers, I am slowly learning my 'A(vocet), B(uzzard), C(arrion crow)' alphabet of the world of birds.

We had great fun watching about three pairs of Redstart (I presume that is the plural: please feel free to advise!) in the grounds of Dinefwr Castle. I tried my best to photograph them; but (assuming my identification is correct), the Redstart does not hang about and my best photograph was blurry, to say the least. The birds flitted backwards and forwards in pairs, along the waterline and then up in the trees. The males, in particular, were a joy to watch, with their black 'cheeks', silver foreheads and bright russet feathers.

Down at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Llanelli, we saw and heard a number of warblers (and once again, Mistlethrush, I wish you had been there to help!). I should be particularly interested to learn the identity of the pair in the photo above.

Incidentally, I wonder what rules we follow in the UK when we write about specific examples of flora or fauna, using our English names. Do we adopt Seabrooke's sensible system of using captial letters for these words? I was writing about the Smooth Newt on my Land&Lit blog, when I realised that unless I used upper case it would not be clear whether I simply meant a smooth newt of any variety or whether I meant the Smooth Newt, Lissotriton vulgaris (formerly known as Triturus vulgaris), in particular.

There is a Swansea suburb called Sketty (Sgeti in Welsh); some sources claim that the name means Ceti's Island, after an Irish saint. Cetti's Warbler, however, is named after the Italian zoologist, Francesco Cetti. I am grateful to Matt of Polyolbion for reminding me to look out for Joanna Boulter's Arrowhead poetry collection, On Sketty Sands.

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