Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Rose-coloured Starling and Chiffchaff

Managed to catch up with the RCS at Holyhead on Tuesday morning.  Had to wait for ~ an hour for the bird to appear on the playing field off Bryn Glas Road.  It is a bit uncomfortable birding there, with it being a residential area.  Mind you, at least the playing field was empty (other than RCS, Starlings and a couple of Herring Gulls)  - might be even more of an uncomfortable place to be walking around with optics at the weekend!

Single Chiffchaff in the marshy area at Soldier's point, with Grey Wagtail and Water Rail also.  There is an interesting article on wintering Chiffchaff at sewage works (plus 2 YBWs) on the BTO website at:  Only a short article and worth a read if you have a spare moment.

beach bird survey

A good day out today heading west in search of dead birds. Stuck at traffic lights between Aberdesach and Pontllyfni an Iceland Gull drifted over in a mixed gull flock heading towards Llyfni estuary. No idea of its age and no time to chase after it.
A quick stop at Morfa Nefyn had the Surfie east of where it's usually been, just out from the main beach entrance - perhaps because the tide was out. Still obvioulsy intent on eating every last crab in the bay.
Traeth Penllech next and a plenty of gulls but nothing of note (to my eye). No dead birds either
: ( North end of Porth Neigwl next where Andrew acted sherpa leading me down to the beach. Our combined skills proved invaluable as we jointly found a dead swan - HOORA... sorry Oh no , it's dead : (
Actually, may have been a large farm goose - too far gone for us to work out. but it's going down on the record card as a swan sp.
Checking the southern end of the beach I found some more dead birds : ) HO... sorry, ahem, a collection feathers loosely attached to tiny bit of bone that may once have been an auk, maybe a Great one judging fron the advanced decomposition. Next, a pristine guillemot minus its breast fillets - I suspect a peregine kill. Finally a cat's-cradle of seaweed and bone framed by two black- headed gull primaries - Result : )
Way down the south end I was chuffed to find a (locally ) huge gull flock of 500+ gulls bobbing beyond the surf. An Iceland gull stood out obvioulsy and after confidently reporting it as 2nd winter I now suspect it was an advanced 1st winter bird. Further scanning produced two cracking adult Meds and a first winter. I managed some bad digiscoping but too poor even by my standards to post.
A final stop at Abersoch produced another near adult summer-ish Med - Hyfryd.

As Samuel Johnson once said to James Boswell;
"when a man is tired of Med Gulls, he is tired of life."

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

First Sand Martin!

A Sand Martin on the Wirral seen at Leasowe Lighthouse, with one more day of February left chance for more this month?

Alan and Ruth

Great day out!

Another great day guiding in N Wales today highlights included Hawfinch, Iceland Gull, Tundra Bean Goose, Smew, Scaup, Goshawk, Peregrine and many more!

Why not join us soon for great birding?

Alan and Ruth

LTD still there

The female long tailed duck still on the river Clwyd opposite the caravan site this morning. Greenland white fronted goose also still around on the marsh next to caravans. Elsewhere 2 adult Med gulls in school playing field by Abergele A55 roundabout and a couple of velvet scoters at Llandulas plus 162 great crested grebes.

New garden moth record

Only one moth in the trap last night but it turned out to be a new garden record, a mottled grey.

Monday, 27 February 2012

World's End that time of year again!

The best way to view all the birds at World's End is from the car. Birds are fine with cars but flush easily once people get out and walk about. Use the car as a mobile hide along the minor road and with patience you will get great views of all the birds here. Black Grouse are Schedule 1 protected birds so you need a licence to photograph them, but have never heard of anyone having problems taking pics from the car. Head out across the moor with a camera and that would be illegal if birds flushed, which of course they would. Not only illegal but not good for the birds so please this Spring can people view ONLY from the road. Every year some people just have to get a little closer and the birds are disturbed.

Enjoy the birding but please leave the birds in peace for their sake and other birders that follow.

Many thanks and good birding

Alan and Ruth

Rosey Pastor still

First winter Rose coloured Starling still Holyhead - Ken C

Long tailed Duck still River Clwyd - Dave J

Still space on this Saturdays gull day sure to be brilliant birding! See posts from Marc below for details.

Alan and Ruth

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Montgomery Mealy....

Paul Leafe had an interesting Redpoll session at The Flash, Welshpool today. His camera battery went dead after one picture of the Mealy unfortunately. Two Mealies present and a large dark bird which sounds mightily interesting.
The above pictures shows great front on profiles of a Mealy redpoll and a Lesser Redpoll at the Flash today. Note the mealy coloured tones on the face and flanks, as well as the more frosty appearance to the cheeks, flanks and wing. The square headed, bull necked appearance is quite striking and shows that it is a good way of separating the two species.

Birdingfrontiers - wish you were here this weekend!

What a beatiful Gull. This superb leucistic Common Gull stood out a mile. It has a metal ring on it's right leg. Can't be many albino type birds ringed. Any suggestions where I can find out?

Spot the Med Gull. A winter plumaged adult amongst the Common Gulls, one of 6 Meds tonight.

Green Ringed AHYY adult summer Mediterranean Gull. Looks like it might have travelled from Germany!
Dark mantled Common Gull (at the back) - stood out a mile amongst the regular Commons. Also had reduced white mirrors, but don't know if this is a feature of 'heinei' Common Gull.

Another dark mantled Common Gull (at the back of the group), also some nice streaking on the head. Click on the image for a larger image.Also a possible Russian bird? Hope there are some to quiz Mr Garner with next week.
An extremely dark 1st winter Common Gull - retarded moult? Not sure whether this means it might have come from further north? All other 1st year birds were well on the way the having white bellies and grey mantles. Any suggestions?

With Martin Garner coming to North Wales next week (, I went about searching for flocks to grill when the 'guru' himself arrives. I came across a flock of 3000+ Common Gulls on the beach between Llanddulas and Pensarn and spent an interesting 2-3 hours searching through them.

Six Mediterranean Gulls were on show, 3 near summer plumaged adults, a winter plumaged adult, one 2nd winter and a 1st winter bird. Two of the adults had green darvic rings, one of which I could read. I have sent the ring number off AHYY, but early indications show that it was ringed by the Hamburg team in Germany.

Another bird ringed was a superb leucistic Common Gull, presumably a different bird from the Llanfairfechan bird that has spent at least the past 10 summers there (as that one wasn't ringed whan I last saw it in Sept 2011).

At least 2 probable Russian 'heinei' Common Gulls were with the flock. Their almost 'Lesser Black Backed' tones to the mantle making them stand out. The two adult birds are shown above. Any comments appreciated. The dark and very marked 1st winter Common Gull in the picture above also stood out as it was way behind with it's moult compared with the many hundreds of other 1st winter birds. Could this mean it has come from a long way away? Looking forward to ask these questions to Martin next week.

For anyone still interested, I have frustraitingly had a cancellation tonight so there is a place available. The cost is £35 for a 9am - dusk gulling experience with top identification expert, BBRC member, finder of Britain's first Caspian Gull...Martin Garner. Get in touch through if you would like to fill that place.

Couple of moths

At last starting to catch a few moths with pale brindled beauty (above) and common quaker (top) new in last night.

Lap Bunt Cemlyn

Lapland Bunting Cemlyn Head

Alan and Ruth - updated with pics from yday please take look

River Clwyd is the place to be....

A lovely walk down the River Clwyd this morning was very rewarding. The female Long tailed Duck was seen immediately on arrival feeding under the flyover at the Rhuddlan end before flying way to the north with Goldeneye. I followed it down river and had a good list of birds; Knot, Bar tailed Godwit, Black tailed Godwit, Golden plover, Grey Plover, Little Egrets and the Greenland White fornted Goose in the fields opposite the River Elwy. The Long tailed Duck was also in this area for a short while, but by the time I had walked back to Rhuddlan it was back in its favoured place opposite the caravan park. Many birds in song included Skylarks, Reed Bunting while a pair of Rock pipits here were nice to see.
On my way to the Clwyd I stopped at the roundabout by the Abergele Macdonalds and was treated to two lovely Mediterranean Gulls in the football field - a lovely adult in near full summer plumage and a 2nd winter bird amongst the Black headed Gulls.

LTD still there

Long tailed Duck still on River Clwyd as below but mobile.

Few bits from yday

GG Shrike again Worlds End

Rose coloured Starling Holyhead also Black Redstart

Surf Scoter still Porth Dinllaen

We had a brilliant day yday guiding in Cheshire and Lancashire seeing Great white Egret, Spoonbill, amazing views of Bittern, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Merlin and masses of wild swans, wildfowl and waders! Finsihed off with a lovely Barn Owl. Why noy join us soon for a cracking day out?

Alan and Ruth for details of tours.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Yellowthroat still in Gwent

Although a bit elusive the Yellowthroat was showing on and off this morning. Periodically it would creep out somewhat mouse-like along the grassy edges of the bramble, occasionally in full view in the sunshine. It was also seen in flight and heard "tacking" in the undergrowth. Lovely bird. As you can see there were still a few bods turning up to see it!

Duckin' and divin'

The female long tailed duck was showing very well this afternoon on the River Clwyd near the caravan park best viewed from the east side of the river. It was associating with half a dozen goldeneye and similar number of goosander when I arrived but then flew off on its own and then kept apart from the other ducks. A single white-fronted goose was with the goose flock.

Long tailed Duck - River Clwyd

There's a female Long tailed Duck showing down to a few yards on the River Clwyd near Rhuddlan right now (per John Roberts). It's best viewed from the eastern side opposite the Caravan Park. Turn left once youve crossed the bridge which goes over the Clwyd. Park just before the Welsh Water treatement works gate and walk onto the embankment. Walk under the flyover and view the River from here looking over towards the caravan park.
What a cracking record!

Superb Scoter Spectacle!

Usually seeing 2 drake Surf Scoter would be the highlight, or perhaps a 1st winter Iceland Gull moving through with the Herring Gulls early morning? Not today at Rainbow Bridge, Old Colwyn. This morning's early morning scoter spectacle was truly awsome with 15-20,000 Common Scoter wheeling about in the sky - got to be one of my year's highlights so far. The picture above is a very small section of what went on for miles and miles! With the flock were 2 drake surf Scoter, at least 15 Velvet Scoter, four Eider, 2 Pale bellied Brent Geese, lots of Red throated Divers, Great Crested Grebes and Mergansers, while a lovely 1st winter Iceland Gull made its way steadily west with a good passage of large gulls.
What a pre-breakfast birding session!

adult Iceland Gull - Colwyn Bay

The adult Iceland Gull left it late on Friday evening to make an appearance and flew in at 5.40pm. The gull rosst can be found just east of the new coastal development and breakwater. A few hundred Gulls can be found here during the afternoon but during the hour before dark this number increaces dramatically with 1000+ Gulls making their way to the cordoned off section of beach. 12 Lesser black backed Gulls, some nice juv 'argentatus' Herring Gulls, 5 Greater black backed Gull, many Common and Black headed join the large number of Herrings each night.

This will be a site which we visit in next weekends Martin Garner gull i.d. day. One place has been made available and if you would like to take this place get in touch with me. This should be a superb day in the Conwy area searching through gulls, talking i.d. and learning about sound recording. Martin is full of knowledge and there will be a lot of learning going on.

Bits from yday

As many of N Wales birders were out last night wishing Ken a very happy birthday no one posted here!

Yday -

GG Shrike Worlds End

Surf Scoter Porth D

Iceland Gull Colwyn Bay

Tundra B Goose Aber Ogwen

As ever Birdline 09068 700249 has all details

Off guiding in Cheshire and Lancs today so hoping for some great birds....

Alan and Ruth

ps many thanks to Kathy for getting everyone together last night great fun!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Holyhead Harbour Diver Photos

The first winter Black throated Diver was showing well today close in to the promenade despite foggy conditions (down to 30 metres). I'm sure if I had more than 10 minutes at Lunch I would have got a few better shots. These were zoomed in cropped shots from my 400mm lens so digiscoping may have got bigger images but as it was diving a lot I just went with my Canon EOS 40D on 400mm zoom as it was less faffing around.

Another ice

Adult Iceland Gull east of Colwyn Bay pier in the gull roost this evening, also a first winter Mediterranean Gull here. Good to see Raplh and Hazel twitching this smart bird.

Loads of scoter offshore but to much haze to see anything with them.

Alan and Ruth - pics of BT Diver Holyhead

Diver surf and stuff

Female Surf Scoter still Porth Dinllaen

Posted some pics of the Blk t Diver at Holyhead on our blog please take a look

Alan and Ruth

Still one place left on our trip to Burton Mere Wetlands, Dee Estuary and Martin Mere WWT this Saturday why not join us?

Diver still there

Black throated Diver still Holyhead Harbour

Common Yellowthroat still in Gwent

One place left on Burton Mere Wetlands, Dee Estuary, Martin Mere WWT on Saturday sure to be a great day! Why not come along?

Alan and Ruth

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Holyhead Diver

Guiding on Anglesey today had some great birds despite the grim weather! We had amazing views of a small looking juv Black throated Diver in Holyhead Harbour, had small flank patches and a very dark neck a bit odd looking! Could be bird mentioned below?

Alan and Ruth

Woodcock heaven

A speculative visit to Glanwydden Lane after dark to look for Woodcock proved a success. Chis Bridge and I walked the length of the fields during darkness thanks to permission from Mostyn Estates and the local farmers. Eight Woodcock were seen, including superb views of five of them in one field. Chris managed to expertley catch his first ever Woodcock, whose statistics were recorded and then ringed before being released back to its favoured field. Other birds seen or heard during the evening included at least four calling Tawny Owls, a Skylark, Moorhen, Jackdaw and a flock of Wigeon. Mammals were represented by a fox and a strange calling cat sp. that put the wind up us!
Thanks to Chris for the accompanying pictures.

Pied Wag spectacle at Bangor Tesco

After doing a bit of shopping at dusk yesterday there was around 350 pied wags sitting on the far end of the car park waiting to go to roost. They've been there for years but it's quite a spectacle seeing them all on the ground togeather in one large flock.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Bean and Ice

Good day guiding today despite some grim weather! Brilliant views of the Tundra Bean Goose at Aber Ogwen in fields by farm west of lane, an Iceland Gull reported in field behind beach car park early pm.

Iceland Gull still at Eddie's house, don't know what he is feeding it but it must be good!

Loads of seabirds back at Puffin Island, from Penmon, today most in breeding plumage.
Plenty of Eider and Grey Seals here too.

Again no sign of Snow Buntings Kinmel Bay looks they have moved on.

Running a trip to Dee Estuary, Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB and Martin Mere WWT on Saturday - why not join us for great birds?

Alan and Ruth

Teal ID help

Interesting Female type Teal at Conwy RSPB. I was looking at the Teal from the Tal-y-fan hide, and noting the variation of the female type Teal when I picked out this bird below. I noticed it had buff notching on the Tertails. Decided to see if this was an ageing id feature of Teals but cant find any pictures/literatures that look similar or describe anything similar. All show an even edge to the feather. Does anyone know anything about this? Any ringers seen this before? Could just be something Ive never noticed before. Maybe a sign of a hybrid? Also looks like the bird has more white on the edges of the primaries that the other female type Teals. Stood out quite a lot.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Around Wales trip

What a cracker of a bird - the Glossy ibis at Borth.

I've been five times for this bird and this is only the second time I've seen it - great views today.

Part of the Yellowthroat twitch - note that everyone is excellently behaved.

Views were much better than this honest! What a superb little bird.
Not often do you get to visit all four compass points of Wales in a day, but we did today. Eddie, Alex, Alan and I visited Rhiwderyn during the morning where we were treated to brief but superb views of the Common Yellowthroat. Next on to Cosmeston for great views of the Lesser Scaup, a bird present for the past few winters. Back up through Ceredigion for the long staying Glossy Ibis which put on a tremendous show. Red Kites were in abundance on the journeys and kept us entertained while on the road. Great trip, superb birds and good company and good to catch up with old friends at various sites around Wales.

Llanddulas gulling

Spurred on by Marc's recent post I spent the last hour of light checking the gull flock off Beach House Road, Llanddulas. There was a fascinating selection of Common Gulls present allowing good views. The flock included one possible heinei candidate owing to its noticeably darker 'thunder cloud' grey uppers in direct comparison to the other adacent adult birds and appearing slightly larger. This bird also seemed to have less white showing in the visible folded primaries.

Other gulls of interest included 3 Med Gulls; an adult still in winter plumage, a first winter and an intriguing bird with fully white primaries but a dull, 2nd winter-type beak - perhaps a third winter, although this age doesn't appear to be acknowledged much as most references seem to jump from 2nd winter straight to adult, any comments welcome...

Also 27 Bewick's Swans with Mutes in Shotwick fields whilst on my way to visit the in-laws earlier on.

Possible Pacific Diver, Holyhead Harbour

Ken had a funny looking Black throated type Diver with a noticeable chinstrap in the Harbour this afternoon. It was between the two piers on your right looking into the Harbour. He only had his bins and couldn't relocate it with his scope. Tony later had distant views of it near the Breakwater. Later I arrived and we saw a small diver fly out of the Harbour to the seaward side of the breakwater and it appeared to go down so it may still be in the area. The bird has only been seen poorly but if you are in the area grill any Divers in-case there is a Pacific knocking around.

Big Bird showing well in Llandudno!

........or perhaps it could be entitled Diary of a Big Dipper! Work comitments meant the earliest I could go for the Yellowthroat was Saturday. However my Wife was playing Hockey, I had the Kids and Rhian's parents who normally provide cover, were in South Wales for the Weekend (ironic). I opted for taking the Kids to my parents in St Helens and striking out from there. However Tony White was on-site and feeding back the negative news and he stuck it out till about 1pm. It was only at 2.15 that I heard the bird had been seen so that was too late to get there from St Helens so we went back home to Anglesey. I had family tickets for Sunday to see Sesame St live in Llandudno at 2pm. I thought about going down overnight to get on-site for dawn but I would have to have left around 9 - 9.30 to get to the show on time, which didn't give me much time to try for the Yellowthroat so I didn't go.

The bird was showing at 7.50 am aaaaaaarghhhhhh!!!!!! Doh! Martin Jones heard my screams from 10 miles away this morning! So I had a far more casual day with the family watching Big Bird and co in Llandudno, even though Ken tried to stress me out even more by texting "possible Pacific Diver, Holyhead Harbour" as I was just walking into the Theatre!

Bert and Ernie were great and there's something about Ernie (the Laugh perhaps) that reminds me of Simon ;-)

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Common Gull build up - Med, possible 'heinei', darvik and mystery.

It will be interesting to see where this one comes from. A dead Common Gull found by Rob and I at Pensarn a few winters ago was ringed in southern Norway as a chick.

A dark mantled bird. Just a variation of our 'canus' race or a possible Russian 'heinei'?

1st winter Med Gull - the first of the season here. Numbers should build up to double figures between now and mid March.

Paler mantled bird in the middle of the flock.

Another picture of the paler mantled bird. Any comments welcome?

An exciting couple of hours on the beaches between Colwyn Bay and Llanddulas this evening as the gulls came in to roost. There has been a big build up of birds over the past week and upwards of 2000 Common Gulls were present by dusk. Mixed in were a single 1st winter Med Gull, 800+ Herrings (including 20+ argentatus), 12 Lesser Black backed Gulls, many GBBGs and BHGs.
Above are some photos of the Med Gull at Llanddulas, a darvik ringed Common Gull (in the past white darviks have come from the Netherlands but I'll let you know when info comes back), a darker mantled Common Gull which stood out on every scan was possibly a Russian Common Gull of the 'heinei' race. The last two pictures have me puzzled, the bird was very pale mantled and quickened the pulse when I saw it. Unfortunately, the flock flew as I was trying to get a picture and I missed it's head structure. The mantle looks good for Ring billed Gull, but not sure about the worn coverts and tertials. Any comments?

yellowthroat still there!

Thankfully the Common Yellowthroat popped up again this pm, whew! Just hope it shows tomoz.

Alan and Ruth

2w Iceland Gull still SW of Pen y Groes

Had this bird again 2 weeks after first and only other sighting.  It was feeding with a roving flock around the back of the sand and gravel quarry on slurried fields, pressumably hanging around the tip too. GR SH455494.
Photos by Pete Wood:


Goshawks in Conwy County - they really do exist!

After years of failling to see Goshawks in the County of Conwy, today I finally came across a displaying pair deep in the depths of the county. Superb views - a real treat. A distant picture of the male above.
Other birds seen were a female Merlin, 6 Gadwall on an upland lake along with 2 summer plumaged Great crested Grebes and a Dabchick.

Rhos Point - seabird build up today.

There was an obvious build up of seabirds off Rhos Point this morning with 30+ Red throated Divers spread out offshore between Penrhyn Bay and Colwyn Bay pier, many close inshore. A similar number of Great Crested Grebes were present too with smaller numbers of Red breasted Mergansers, Guillemots and Razorbills. A single drake Eider was off the Point while 5 Kittiwakes were feeding here. Four Purple Sandpipers were in the high tide roost along with 200+ Dunlin.

No show on Yellowthroat yet......

The Yellowthroat is keeping his head down this am no show by 9am, hope its having a slow start to Saturday!

This is second record for Wales first was on Barsey in October 1996.

Hoping to go tomoz....

Alan and Ruth

Friday, 17 February 2012


...well good cause to today.  COMMON YELLOWTHROAT showing to the masses.  The bird was highly mobile and fed regularly and people followed it as most folk would do.  Didnt see any overly adverse behaviour, certainly seen a lot worse.  The bird creeped around low down in hedges and crept out into the grass to feed on the ground with occasional darting flights along the hedge and was easily lost even with a hundred or so watching it.  It ranged around 4 or 5 fields.  It acted a bit like a Cetti's or Dunnock; a bit flittery.  Thanks to CJ for driving and good luck for those going over the weekend.  We had the Ibis in Borth on way back still in field north of Community Centre in the town.
Best D-scoped Shots:

Orderly twitch site! Bird was just right of firs but in corner of field. Cheers