Saturday, 31 March 2012
A single drake 'Velvet' Scoter in the flock could have been last night's interesting bird and gives hope that it's still be around. Interestingly, Julian Wheldrake and two visting birders had a single 'orange billed' Velvet last Monday in the flock.
Paul had two Eider past while Frank Duff had a Long tailed Duck early afternoon. A single Sandwich Tern was at Rhos Point and was still present mid-evening.
Managed to get a couple of snaps of the LSW and the Ring Ouzel and the Spoonbill at Parkgate: please take a look: http://birdingnorthwales.blogspot.co.uk/
Friday, 30 March 2012
An hour at the scoter flock late afternoon was very rewarding with the birds much closer than I've seen before. From the old Hotel 70degrees layby the four Surf Scoters were soon picked up and showed well - 3 drakes and a female. Several Velvet Scoters were also present with at least ten seen in flight and a few picked up on the sea. I picked up one bird that was immediately interesting. I'm posting it here so that those of you who are on site over the weekend can have a good look for it and have it on your radar.
The 'Velvet' type bird flew in to the front of the flock on its own, a nice drake. As it landed the immediate feature was a big white area around the eye, like a crescent shape extending towards the back of the head. The 'white patch' certainly seemed a lot larger than the other Velvets around, most of which I couldn't even make the white on the face at that range.
The other feature that worried me was the bill - the colour of the 'end half' seemed an orangy colour, although at times it even looked pinkinsh - even at this range. Although distant, the bird seemed to have a dark buldge at the top of the bill, tapering towards the end and looking long. The rest of the bird was like a typical drake Velvet.
At this stage I'm certainly not claiming a mega, however my pulse did race as I watched the bird and I talked to Alan, Steve Williams and Chris on the phone while on site and they confirmed that the features seemed good for a 'white winged' type Scoter. I enclose a quick sketch of what I saw that I drew immediately after watching the bird for 10 minutes or so. Sorry for the quality.
Fingers crossed the birds are as close tomorrow and hopefully with some good light we can either nail it as a mega or confirm it as a bright looking Velvet - however, with 30,000 Common Scoter out there it will take some re-finding. If you're along the North Wales coast over the next week or so, the scoter flock is well worth searching through - at worst you'll get multiple Surfies, Velvets, Long tailed Duck, Scaup and the amazing spectacle of 30,000+ Common Scoter!
Thursday, 29 March 2012
A meeting in Old Colwyn meant I had a little bit of time to bird before and during lunch today. On a arrival on the Orme, my first 'Orme' Willow Warbler of the year was in full song (above). More bits and pieces on the Orme blog.
Lunchtime I had a quick look from the layby at Old Colwyn, the one just before where the Hotel 70degrees use to be. Good views from here and a great height as everything is visible despite a swell. The light as good and Surf Scoters were soon picked up - 3 drakes together and a female. The three drakes are certainly on heat and were constantly stalking the poor lady - a sort of Surfie follow my leader with the duck at the front. Other notable ducks amongst the 10,000 Common Scoter included a fine female Long tailed Duck, a drake Scaup and up to six Velvet Scoters (may have been 12 or the same group of 6 moving about). If you haven't been up there yet, you must - what a spectacle, and one which wont be around from much longer I would think.
Wednesday, 28 March 2012
Also saw these yesterday enjoying the sunshine. Some scouse tourist saw me taking the picture and said "Ay dare, izdat a dead cchrow dare mate". I said "no its a Jackdaw having a sunbathe", and he just looked at me. The other Jackdaw just arched over like it had done its back in, ya know like when your dad pulled his back lifting slabs in the garden.
This morning saw a big increase in the number of Redpolls over. I managed to tempt some 50+ birds down into the hawthorns with the iPhone, with many more passing overhead. Amazingly just 2 Siskins were involved in the movement; a huge reduction. The bird above appeared with one group - paler than accompanying Lessers, nice white rump with white tramlines up the back, a white disk around the cheek, white vent and undertail coverts with a few dark streaks, much less buffiness on the whole, all just about visible in the one picture I managed to grab of it before in continued North West - surely a Mealy? Another was caught on Hilbre today - not a million miles away as the crow flies - pics of that one here - http://hilbrebirdobs.blogspot.co.uk/
All the other bits and bobs on the Great Orme blog - www.greatormebirds.blogspot.com including a bird even rarer than Mealy Redpoll on the limestones! You'll be surprised :-)
Tuesday, 27 March 2012
The last gasp of a very disappointing winter of diver counting ended on a high this morning. Numbers have remained low from November and only rose to a disappointing 18 Great Northerns by last week.
Conditions this morning were perfect, with a mirrored sea, no wind or swell and best of all, very little heat distortion. It started well with 144 Red-Throats off Dinas Dinlle. At Pontllyfni I flushed a Water Rail across the ditch where it uncharacteristically landed, stopped and turned to have a good look at me before disappearing into the scrub. At the river mouth I was glad to find the Iceland Gull which I have seen distantly a few times recently. Having been confidently reporting it as a 2nd winter I had a good look at it and noticed the dark iris. Looked more like a 1st winter. Oh well, If I can't sort out my Iceland ageing this winter , I never will! Of course it flushed and flew a mile out to sea before I got any decent pictures. Other birds on the estuary included 47 brents and a single Knot - a site tick : )
There was a scattering of Great Northerns and later at Aberdesach scanning produced a distant raft of 22 great Northerns. I’ve been wondering all winter where they’ve been. Perhaps they favoured another site? It was reassuring to find they’re still here but stay way off-shore, only visible in perfect conditions, like today. Also, all the birds I saw that stretched up and flapped - scoter-style looked like plucked chickens – with stumpy wings and no primaries. I only really got a handle on this last winter and am now fairly confident that the increased numbers we get here in late Feb and March congregate here to moult before migrating back to Iceland , Greenland and maybe even Canada.
Anyway, the morning’s total was 193 red-throats, a new record for me for the site and 33 Great Northerns – Less than half last year’s record but still reassuring after the low counts this winter – maybe I need to buy a boat?
As usual, I moved on to Trefor, where I could still see the big raft of Great Northerns although no new ones – as I said, conditions were good : )
Highlight at Trefor though was a pod of Bottle-nosed dolphins that were pootling around. They came in within 100m and although not in the mood for acrobatics one showed some interesting behaviour including logging on the surface, travelling on/in the surface looking very shark-like and even sinking and rising vertically like a subrmarine. There were 8 or 9 but the best was a mother with a calf which I managed to video-scope, badly.
Lousy pic follows but at least I've seen one again!
Two drake Surf Scoters still Old Colwyn - have feeling some double counting yday, seems no one saw five surfs at any one time, they were mobile when we were there yday!
Female Surf still Morfa Nefyn
Iceland Gull Aberdesach this am also over 30 GN Diver - nice!
Heading into the uplands again tomoz for more guiding see our website for recent reports, some brilliant birding!
Alan and Ruth
Monday, 26 March 2012
Anyway to kick things off 2 M Thrush, 2 S Thrush, 2 Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest and Chaffinch were ringed. The beauty of course is that everything is passing through the site. Hopefully much more to follow:
|Black Grouse at World's end|
Sunday, 25 March 2012
Someone please tell 'Plastic Steve' Culley if he's not been already to go pap the hell out of it - I want prints!!
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Plenty of other migrants kept us on our toes including a lone Golden Plover that circled the limestones calling before heading back north, Siskins, Redpolls, Goldcrests and it was strange to hear Chiffchaffs singing from the Gorse.
I headed over to Morfa Madryn later in the afternoon in the hope of relocating the Glossy Ibis seen this morning. No sign of that, but the Lapwings were certainly in full Spring mode and a pair of Barnacle Geese were the first I've seen here - aptly associating with a motley assortment of Greylags, Canadas and hybrids! A smart Peacock butterfly was also my first of the Spring.
Lots of birds on the move today including the stunning birds above. Siskins, Goldcrests, Rodpolls, Chiffchaffs, Golden Plover, Coal Tit and good numbers of early spring migrants on the move. For more pictures and detailed account of numbers visit the Orme blog - Click here - www.greatormebirds.blogspot.com
Friday, 23 March 2012
Thursday, 22 March 2012
Other migrants included Golden Plover heard, dozens of goldcrests, 100s Siskin over, Peregrine and Sand Martin. There was oddly up to 20 magpie moving around, surely passing through: