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.