Monday, 30 May 2011

Bonaparte's Gull at Porthmadog

Red Grouse on the Migneint

After my regular sites for Red Grouse let me down whilst guiding, I finally managed to track down a few slightly more showy birds!

Cambs wkend

Was over in Cambs for a couple of days and managed to get a few decent birds including h/o 2 Golden Oriole, Green Woody, Hobby and Cetti's at Lakenheath.  Turtle in the small village of Reach, Nightingale at Pax P, and 2 RN Phals at Welney, Norf.  These dropped in 1 minute before I got to one of the hides and were surprisingly under-snapped by a group of photographers staking out the Bluethroat which didnt show in strong winds.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

River Clwyd

A few bits and pieces on the River Clwyd today between Rhuddlan and Rhyl - 2 Little Ringed Plovers, Whimbrel, Whinchat, Lesser Whitethroat and 3 broods of Goosanders (all betweeen 8 and 13 chicks).

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Seawatching season starts early!

The waves were crashing against the Little Orme this eve with 40+ Manxi and 50+ Kitiwake off Llandudno North Shore so I headed to Rhos Point 6-7pm and had 2 smart Bonxi, 2 Arctic, 1-2 Pom and 300+ Manxi in the hour.  A steady stream of 3-400 Kits too.

No Stormy tho or LT Skua but must be about- maybe in the morning?  Great for May!

Seen a swallow or house martin nest?

A little plug for a project that the North Wales Breeding Bird Atlas is running in conjunction with The Daily Post. If you've seen today's paper, there's an article about it, but if not, there's information on the Daily Post website.

If you don't submit Roving Records to the BTO Atlas website, then please help this initiative by sending the location (grid reference or postcode) and date of swallow or house martin nests that you see this year to The details will be added to the online map and will be published in the North Wales Atlas.

Thanks to Alan Williams for the photo

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Thrush in the Bedroom department

I've been seeing a huge number of young birds recently.  Surely been a good season so far for most small birds? My local Tawny Owls are putting on evening shows, the chicks giving their location away with their begging "wecchp" call.  I seen 3 with an adult then a separate chick and adult together near Henryd.

Young Blackcap were at Conwy RSPB, a combination of calls which was a cross between a Long-tailed tit's "seerup" with the "teck" of an adult Blackcap.  Having heard one, I got my ear in and found more at Pensychnant and Dolgarrog.  Young Treecreepers were also at Dolgarrog and more near Eglwys Cylenin. There are 2 Cuckoo at Pensychnant at the moment and another on the eastern slopes of Tal-y-fan.
Young Song Thrush found in the washing basket!  Indoor tick for me after a pair of Sparras in B&Q the other week!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Boney Gull, Porthmadog

Ist/S bird on Llyn Bach this evening associating with a small flock of bh gull.  Found by E Lewis earlier today.

Monty bird race 21/05/11

Despite still having over 2 and a half hours of 'daylight' left we decided to give up the chase on Brayton's record total of 111 some years ago. It was all going so well at the start of the day when one of the first birds seen was a cracking male Nightjar (another one was heard 'wing-clapping') in a small patch of clearfell near Staylittle. From there we headed to Glaslyn where we were hoping to pick up a Red Grouse calling, we we amazed when we heard a handful of them calling! We also heard Cuckoo there. Next Stop Was Cors/Morfa Dyfi where we were hoping to pick up a few species of wader. Sadly we only added Redshank and Oystercatcher, but we did have the added bonus of the Osprey pair, and several very vocal warbler species. Just as we were leaving there, 3 geese flew along the river and appeared to land. We quickly turned back to have a look what they were, just as well as it was a pair of Greylags and a lone Pink-foot!! En route to our next stop (Lake Vyrnwy) we managed to add a few good birds including Spotted Flycatcher and a cracking male Whinchat. Lake Vyrnwy wasn't as productive as hoped due to the foul weather! We were hoping to pick up a few raptor species and Ring Ouzel, but only managed a single Peregrine! We did however manage to clear up on most of the woodland species so it wasn't all a loss! It was now time to try and pick up some 'wetland birds' so LCyD was our next location, a couple more species were added but by now the weather had really turned on us and picking up new species was getting harder and harder! In the space of the next 3 and a half hours we only managed to add 4 species - Goshawk, Pied Flycatcher, Kingfisher and Crossbill! So come 7 O'clock I suggested we call it a day!!

All in all a cracking days birding with a total of 98 species being seen/heard! Thanks to dad and Marc for keeping me sane.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Caption Competition

I'll get the ball rolling then......!

"Dear BTO, is this a Rock Bunting?" the way its a Sea Buckthorn.

It only takes one bird to brighten up a rainy day!

A first summer female Woodchat Shrike was found this morning at the northern end of Bardsey by Steve Hind. The bird favoured a small area of gorse bushes and was easily trapped. It was released at the Observatory where it continued to feed and show well to the assembled crowd in the back garden. Some of yesterday's 35 Spotted Flycatchers were still present, but little else.

Fair Isle Garden birds

Eastern Subalp meets the extremely showy Quail in the obs garden this morning. Since my last update I have added Great Snipe and Red-rumped Swallow to my Fair Isle list. Photo by Johan Nilsson.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Another Citrine Wagtail!

A days guiding on Tuesday, 17th May, began at RSPB Conwy and we looked in vain for the male Citrine Wagtail that we had enjoyed the previous two days, but sadly no sign.

We headed off to Cemlyn, Anglsesey and stopped on the bridge on the west side of the lagoon. Setting up the scopes we were enjoying wonderful views of Sandwich, Common and Arctic Terns, Mediterranean Gull and waders.

At 9.40am we heard a loud buzzing wagtail call and I thought "**** Citrine!!" then rememberd I was at Cemlyn not Conwy! The calls continued and we picked the bird up flying straight towards us low over the brick walled house. The bird dropped lower as it passed very close by and we could clearly see a male Citrine Wagtail!! The bird touched down in the short grass field by the turning down to Tyn Llan Farm. No sooner had it landed it was off again, calling loudly again. The bird flew low over the pig field and was lost to view.

In the brief views obtained the bird looked very similar to the Conwy bird, a very smart adult male! The yellow head and underparts were shockingly bright, black collar, grey-blue back, bright white wing bars, black tail with white outer tail feathers, a very smart bird!

We alerted other birds and set off to try and relocate the bird but no sign.

A Chough showed well in the fields, great views of Whimbrel on the beach and offshore amazing views of Gannets.

Holyhead Harbour next and close views of Black Guillemots.

South Stack was at its very best with masses of birds! Chough, Puffin, Manx Shearwater, Kittiwakes, Fulmar, Razorbill, Guillemot, Stonechat all showed off. But it was two Peregrine that stole the show, one of which showed off right over head, including a spectacular stoop right past us! Brilliant!

Valley Lakes was our last port of call where we boosted our day list nicely with plenty of wildfowl.

A very memorable day indeed!

Why not join us for great birding? Plenty of trips coming up with dates to suit you!

Alan and Ruth

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Marsh Harrier Conwy RSPB

This smart bird flew in from nowhere at 07:30 and headed east after a couple of circuits over the reserve.  I've not seen many in Wales!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Help needed for nailed on Little Owls

I'm showing a Danish birder around this weekend who wants Little Owl. My local ones have been playing up lately, can anyone suggest any nailed on birds in North Wales, thanks.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Broad-billed Sandpiper, Hoylake

2nd attempt today, as had to do a u-turn when the Cit Wag news came out. Hadnt gone far though!   Headed over this eve and could not believe the number of Dunlin off the prom at Hoylake.  BBSand was fairly close though which was a bonus- what a corker!  Dipped BuffB Sand afterwards but it didnt matter that much.

Citrine Wagtail Conwy RSPB...again!

Another great record for the reserve, found by a volunteer from the Coffee Shop and the bird moved around the edge of the north lagoon all afternoon viewable from the board walk screen or Benarth Hide as well as the CS.  Wood Sand, LRP, and Common Snipe still about. 

Med Gull hybridization

I saw a Med and BH Gull paired on a nest yesterday and I was just wondering if anyone knows of any hybrid birds seen/photographed or what the outcome is?  Only found one paper on it but its in Czech!

Sandpiper trio May 15

News of a Broad B- Sand at Hoylake viewed from shelter 300 yards west of lifeboat station with 10K Dunlin-good luck!  No sign since initial sighting.

Buff-B-Sand Reported at Frodsham tank 6 although flown between the river and here 2-3 times already!

Wood Sand at Conwy RSPB this morning

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Calling Corncrake still

The calling Corncrake still at South Stack RSPB reserve, found by Ken Croft yesterday. Please listen only from footpath below the platation, do not enter fields or use tape lures. More details on Birdline 09068 700249.

A Great northern Diver and Manx Shearwaters past the Great Orme (Marc Hughes)

Mediterranean Gull River Clwyd (Tony aka Kingfisher)

Our Ynys hir RSPB trip is fully booked but very happy to run another if enough interest - a wonderful reserve and we will also call at the Dyfi Osprey project.

Still places on out third Norfolk trip, first two fully booked, on 25th - 27th June for all the amazing breeding birds and more!

Good birding
Alan and Ruth

Friday, 13 May 2011

Snow Goose, Conwy RSPB

Eeeeww...the Gavin Henson of the goose sighting.... Features include: Just arrived and already not very welcome, no ring, bit plastic, could give you a black eye if it wanted and a tad flighty too.  Doesnt eat much bread either to remain in tip top wild condition.
What to do?

 picked up this morning calling over the estuary.  Headed South-bad credential!
came back the the north lagoon this eve- probably stay till September now!

Corncrake, Plantation near S Stack

Calling intermittently since 11am and still 17:00 in the field on the way up to the plantation. Found by K Croft

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Hobby on Anglesey

I went to Pentraeth forest in my lunch-break today to chase up some sightings of a Green Woodpecker. No joy with that but a Hobby was drifting around over the edge of the forest. An Anglesey tick for me!

A picture is worth a thousand words!

Well there are no words to describe this Mega on Bardsey today, so I will just post the picture of this sixth for the island and probably the first since 1969 and let the (poor) picture do the talking!!

Coot (c) Steve Stansfield

Conwy RSPB

Had a walk around RSPB Conwy early this morning and again got caught in the rain! Is this really May?!

Great to see the Little ringed Plovers are still in residence. Three Whimbrel on the estuary and a Common Snipe still showing. Drake Goldeneye still on the second lagoon.

The Ganol Trail was good for warblers with both Reed and Sedge Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat all showing well.

News of a Calandra Lark in Lincolnshire was a bit gutting - had predicted we would find one on the Orme this Spring! Dopey bird! Can't it read a map?!

If it is relocated may well go for it, so if anyone fancies a twitch.......

Join us for great birding locally -

Seabird Special - Anglesey - 17 May depart Conwy RSPB 8am

Ynys-hir RSPB - the new home of BBC Spring Watch - 20 May depart Conwy RSPB 7am

To book email

For pics from Conwy RSPB recently check out - ... trspbconwy

Good birding!
Alan and Ruth

The Biggest Twitch

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Birding in the rain!

Dont let a little rain stop birding!

Yday we set off from Trefriw and headed for the Gwydyr Forest where had stunning views of Cuckoo, Redstart, Tree Pipit.

Further into Snowdonia we enjoyed Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Redpoll, Goosander, Common Sandpiper.

Then on to Anglesey for masses of terns, Mediterranean Gulls, Ruff, loads of Whimbrel, Bar tailed Godwits all at Cemlyn.

Holyhead served up Black Guillemots and at South Stack Puffins and Chough showed off while offshore we had 2 Arctic Skuas and Manx Shearwaters!

A really great day guiding with 95 species and we even had time for two tea breaks and a lunch stop - how civilised! And the rain? What rain? Birds didn't mind a bit.

Join us for great birding -

Seabird Special - Anglesey - 17 May depart Conwy RSPB 8am

Ynys-hir RSPB - the new home of BBC Spring Watch - 20 May depart Conwy RSPB 7am

To book email

For pics from Conwy RSPB recently check out - ... trspbconwy

Good birding!
Alan and Ruth

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Coedty area May 08

A few Wood Warbler, 10+ P fly, 30+ Redstart, family party of Marsh Tit, 9 singing Tree Pipit with best ever views- one singing on a hawthorn only to do its parachute flight and land amongst the bluebells and to carry on singing about 10m away!  Few Lesser Redpoll, Garden Warbler and a Cuckoo too.

May 8th - Great orme migrants 'Quality not Quantity'

After yesterday's deluge of birds (which I missed!), this morning was much quieter. However, with patience and persistance birds appeared. Undoubted highlight was a Wood Warbler in a small gorse bush on the limestone pavements - an Orme mega. To put it in perspective, I have seen more Short-toed Larks and Woodchat Shrikes on the Orme than Wood Warbler! The last being several year's ago near the reservoir. The bird showed for a few minutes after a heavy shower alongside a few Willow warbler, soon after 9am.

Other notable birds included a fine Cuckoo near Pink Farm (above), 5 White Wagtails at the north end (brought down by the same heavy shower as the WW), 2 Sedge Warblers near the Old Cafe, one Yellow Wagtail over, 5 Tree Pipits, 2 Swifts and a steady passage of Hirundines. Other birders also recorded Whinchat, Ring Ouzel and Grasshopper warbler. Not bad for a 'quiet' morning!

Dyfi Estuary - May 7th

A couple of visits to the Dyfi Estuary yesterday produced the following birds - Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, female Wigeon, 1st summer Med Gull at Borth Bog. 30+ Whimbrel, 15+ Bar tailed Godwits, 2 Sanderling, Golden Plover at Ynys Las and the adjacent Golf Course. Osprey at the Osprey watchpoint. Drove past Ynys Hit twice and decided not to call in - regret! Purple Heron found there during the day. Oh well - win some, lose some!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

ringing May 7th

Nice selection caught this moring near Caernarfon inc Treecreeper, Common Whitethroat, GSW, Blackcap, Goldcrest, S Thrush, Garden War, Chiff, Sedge and Willow.

 There will be blood! Female GSW.

Saturday morning on the Great Orme and stuff

Up the Great Orme before 6am and it calm and mild, had rained over night so hopes were high with a southerly airflow. Parking above the cemetry I headed for the limestone pavement, following the wall.

A few Wheatears moved ahead of me and small numers of Siskin and Redpoll headed north overhead. A Garden Warbler was in the hawthorns along with a Sedge Warbler and a scatter of Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff.

Reaching the pavement I walked across to the area above the lighthouse, two Ring Ouzel shot across in front of me! Luckily they landed near the concrete road. Near the car park I met Ivan and got him on the Ouzels and we watched them a Short eared Owl floated over the gorse and rocks mobbed by Jackdaws, a lovely bird, very pale.

I headed back to the wall, fly over Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipits. Just before the valley, near hamburger rock, a female Pied Flyctacher was in the hawthorns, rare bird here. Dave Nivert and friend arrived and Ivan joined us to see the flycatcher. I continued on my way and soon heard a Dotterel calling and it swept over heading for the pavements! I legged it back and was glad that the others had picked it up.

At the cemetry Spotted Flycatcher and by the car a cracking male Whinchat, a great morning in the "back garden"!

A call from Glyn had us hurring down to RSPB Conwy to enjoy a beautiful breeding plumaged Spotted Redshank best we have seen - even the legs were jet black! Also a Ruff and a Greenshank here.

Then headed for Cemlyn but heavy rain put a downer on birding here. Highlights were 2 Yellow Wagtails, lots of waders and second summer Med Gull. Good numbers of Arctic Terns are now back.

Alan and Ruth

Cemlyn to Carmel

A walk from the west end of the lagoon to Carmel Head and back this morning, hoping to re-find yesterday's black-headed wagtail, but deep down knowing that it's probably crossed another sea overnight. Still, plenty to see: plenty of whimbrels, several groups of up to a dozen, and probably 60 in total including a couple of colour-ringed birds; a marsh harrier thermalling high over Hen Borth and perhaps making its departure, 2 smart golden plovers, a pair of colour-ringed choughs, two grasshopper warblers, around 30 white wagtails, and 18 wheatears. Oh yes, and a pink-footed goose. Whinchat and spotted flycatcher had been seen earlier. And there seemed to be a whitethroat in every hedge. A great morning's walk.

Friday, 6 May 2011

May 6th - early morning Great Orme migrants

First bird of the day was a superb Cuckoo in the gorse at the north end before flying over the limestones to the wall area. Cuckoo is less than annual up here so it was a great way to start the day. There was a good feel to the morning and the first couple of hours of light produced a Garden Warbler in the Hawthorns, a gorse bush Lesser Whitethroat that got the pulse racing, 5+ Yellow Wagtails, 7+ Tree Pipits, 5 Willow Warbler, Chiff Chaff and 20+ Wheatear. Hirundines were constantly on the move with several hundred on the move.Amongst them were at least ten Swifts. A Robin in the furthest gorse bush was unusual and must have been a bird on the move. Unfortunately work called and I had to leave a promising Orme soon after 8am.
I left Mike Duckham up there who had hardcored it and slept overnight up there - respect! He noted 12+ Tree Pipits and a good passage of Wheatears and Hirundines as the morning progressed.


Does anyone have experience with transitivia Swallows? This bird (right birt in top image) stood out a mile from the other swallows. The underside was the same colour as a male cantilans subalp? is this within the range of normal rustica swallow? any comments. (the images at this size are not the best!)

Oh.. also one of these too

and four cuckoos
and a Blue-headed Wagtail

Also 16 Spot flys, 50 Sedge Warblers, 40 Willow Warblers, Grasshopper Warbler, 40 Whitethroats 40 Whimbrel, Ring Ouzel and Redstart amongst other commoner migrants

Photos of Black headed Wagtail at Cemlyn

A great bird found by David Wright this morning. It flew in calling and with Yellow wags nearby the call really is noticeably buzzier! Tony and Martin also had a Blue head later on.

Conwy RSPB May 06

No further sign of GH Wag but Black headed still at Cemlyn this eve!
Curlew Sand and 6 Whimbrel at Conwy 6pm, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and Waterail from Benarth Hide all day- very docile too.

Saw the red footed little egret this evening again.  Potential split!

 Sedgey blasting it out and Waterail from Benarth hide