Monday, 30 April 2012

Report of Lesser Grey Shrike

A Gamekeeper who knows Ian Hawkins at Malltraeth Marsh told him he had seen a Lesser Grey Shrike today. I'm only getting this second hand and putting the news out in case anyone is in the area it may be worth a glance. I don't know the observers experience but suspect it is probably a Grey Shrike of sorts. It was on the south shore of the Dulas estuary where the wood/trees meet the gorse bushes. It's all a bit vague but I will forward any news if it develops. I just had 2 Common Sands and a pair of Mergs. 15 House Martins arrived on our estate in Cemaes today and Les Colley had a Cuckoo at Cors Erddreiniog.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Conwy migrants

Two yellow wagtails present on the Conwy estuary saltmarsh adjacent to the RSPB reserve this morning along with 40+ white wagtails and a sprinkling of pied wags and mipits plus a common sand on the estuary. Over the reserve 3 swifts were among several hundred hirundines which included a noticeable increase in house martins with 40+ present. Other birds seen/heard included sedge and reed warbler, blackcap, willow warbler, chiffchaff and a peregrine. A lesser whitethroat was also reported.

Friday, 27 April 2012

First cuckoo

Heard my first cuckoo today at Pensychnant nature reserve on Conwy mountain. Also at least three pied flycatchers seen as well as willow warblers, chiffchaff, blackcap and swallows. A lesser redpoll was picked up in a badly dazed state after hitting a window, hopefully it survived after release.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

few more migrants

A few migrants broke through the northerly wind barrier today. We had the first Pied fly of the year yesterday. Today so far three Ring Ouzels, two redstarts, three Groppers, 60 Greenland Wheatears, 44 Whimbrels scattering of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps and a Cuckoo

First Swift.

Swift over Horton's Kinmel Bay this morning.

Monday, 23 April 2012

White storks over Llandudno

While birding at Conwy RSPB reserve midday had 2 texts from Alan Davies about six white storks first over Colwyn Bay and then Llandudno so I got to the highest point I could (top of a picnic table!) and managed to get the birds for a couple of minutes circling high over Llandudno before being lost to view. Last reported heading NNW so worth keeping an eye to the sky over Anglesey. My first Conwy county record and possibly only the second county record. Apparently a flock of nine storks were reported in Worcestershire a few days ago.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Jersey Shore American Herring Gulls

At exactly this time last year I was on the other side of the pond enjoying the incoming Spring migrants at Cape May, NJ. Whilst there I ventured up to Brigantine Light hoping for lingering Harlequins. After good views of a fine drake Harlequin along with Bufflehead, Black & Surf Scoter, dresseri Eider, L-t Duck etc I turned my attention to the local gull flock with the aim of improving my smithsonianus knowledge.

With migration currently at a relatively slow pace here and gulling taking a back seat after winter I thought I'd take the chance to post some of my photos. A couple of things that I noted in particular were the considerable plumage variation in younger birds (as opposed to all being the 'classic' dark-bodied, pale-headed birds we look for here) and the extensive coverts/tertials wear on several birds. All photos were taken in RAW format but, apart from adding 3 degrees of sharpness in the Canon software, I haven't altered any colours etc. I hope you find these as interesting/useful as I did (but apologies if not!).

Note the yellowish tinge to the legs on the birds above and below

The dark tertials and striking bill pattern stood out on this 5cy(?) bird

No mistaking this monster (4cy, or advanced 3cy?)

But what about these? Note the worn plumage, giving these birds a much paler appearance

Retained juvenile scapulars on some of these 2cy birds perhaps indicates a more northerly origin? (considering a similar moult strategy in argentatus)

Flight view showing the characteristic upper tail pattern/plumage and dark primaries/secondaries. Note the retained scaps on the right hand bird (northerner?)

Another very worn bird, although dark tertials still evident

After discussing with local birders I gathered that the very dark plumage of the small left-hand 2cy bird is likely to indicate origin from a southern population

One from Cape May Point to show the undertail coverts/underpart plumage (albeit in stronger light than the others)

Old friends on the River Clwyd

A walk along the River Clwyd at high tide was quiet but did produce some interesting birds. The Greenland White fornted Goose was still present, now looking a bit more adult like with some black barring appearing on the belly. There seems to be more white around the bill too. The Dublin ringed Great black backed Gull is still present and was in exactly the same spot as I saw it in Septmeber 2011. The bird has now reached full maturity - below are pictures of blue 2CJ as a 3rd cy in September and again as an adult (4cy) taken today. A superb male Greenland Wheatear was along the shoreline and 2 Little Egrets and 20+ Sandwich Tern was the best of the rest.

Great Orme migrants - just a trickle

The past week has seen a trickle of migrants through the headland and it has been guite hard going to get motivated each morning. Between 1-4 Tree pipits have moved through each morning for the past six days, while ones and twos of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps have been present. Crossbills have been on the move with six yesterday and ten this morning. Wheatears have included the first Greenalnd birds of the year. Tuesday saw 25+ birds on the headland but this was down to 2 yesterday! 10+ were present this morning. A nice White Wagtail showed well on the limestones the last few mornings.
Best of the rest have included 3 Blulfinches, max of 35 Siskin yesterday and a trickle of Redpolls. Things can only get better!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Two birds we don't see much of in North Wales

Whilst back in St Helens this weekend I went around some of my old haunts, The Lancashire Mosslands around St Helens (now Merseyside and I was getting a few photos as I went). Birds like Corn Bunting, Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow, Skylark and Lapwing are all still around there and seem to be hanging on OK. Some of these are birds we would struggle to see in North Wales and we would have little or no chance of Corn Bunting. Are there still any pairs on the borders or have they dried up now? Grey Partidge are pretty scarce on Anglesey and I haven't seen one here for years. There was a recent sighting near Llansadwrn but otherwise they probably hang on at Bodior and possibly Dulas, Bodorgan, The Braint Estuary fields and maybe around Aberffraw, Maelog, Trefor and possibly Gwalchmai. Any records would be much appreciated!

Almost Summer Plum GND

A Great Northern Diver has been showing well between the two Bridges on the Menai Staight for about six weeks!. It seems to be favouring the Anglesey side and is best viewed for from the large lay-by overlooking the Straight. The footpath goes closer to the bird enabling closer views and digiscope shots. It is moulting into summer plumage so it's head is blackening up nicely and its back is nice and spotty. Well worth a look if passing.

Friday, 20 April 2012


A good arrival of migrants today included 133 Willow Warblers, 140 Blackcaps, 18 Grasshopper Warblers, two ringtail Hen Harriers....but still no Whitethroats, where are they?? Has anyone had any yet?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Migrants checking in

A few more migrants seen today with at least 2 sedge warblers along the Ganol Trail at Conwy RSPB plus a reed warbler in the reeds by the boardwalk and a common sandpiper along the edge of the second lagoon. A dozen white wags around along with wheatear, blackcap, chiffs and willow warblers plus a couple of hundred hirundines mostly swallows and sand martins with a few house martins. Two little ringed plovers also still present. At Pensychnant nature reserve 2 pied flycatchers were in and a single common redstart.


One north over Llandudno, North shore 14:00.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Conwy RSPB this evening - Wagtails and hirundines

A walk around the Conwy RSPB reserve this evening saw plenty of birds. Good numbers of alba Wagtails with 60+ birds, probably half White, half Pieds. Lots of hirundines over the pools - hundreds of both Swallow and Sand Martins with a few House Martins amongst them. Waders included a single Whimbrel and a single Barwit amongst the Curlews. Six Wigeon were still hanging around too.

Ceredigion Gull update

The Newquay Fish Factory is coming up trumps at the moment and Arfon Williams has seen up to three Iceland Gulls in the area this week (all shown here). Bird one shows a small pale tip to the bill, bird two has a brownish wash to the primaries and tail and bird three has a prominent pale eye. The fourth gull here is a cracking leucistic Herring Gull - note the structure and heavy bill. John Davis also noted one of the colour ringed Herring Gulls (Blue JBY) that we saw last week and has received information from the Severn Estuary ringers - It was ringed as a first winter bird in January 2010 at Stoke Orchard landfill site in Gloucestershire and seen subsequently in February, March and December 2010 at Gloucester L.S. Our sighting was the first since then. John notes that in recent years they have had a few Herring Gulls on the Ceredigion coast which have been ringed in Gloucestershire.

House Martins and Whitethroats?

I had my first House Martin of the year in Cemaes yesterday and another in Llanrhuddlad this morning. I haven't had any Whitethroats yet but there was one reported at South Stack on Easter Monday the 9th April.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Anglesey updates and Wembley

I had 2 Groppers reeling on the coastal walk to the west of Amlwch Octel yesterday.
A lot more Swallows seemed to be around this weekend after the Northerly winds were holding them back.
This Raven flew by me several times at Amlwch, obviously clearing out some poor birds nest full of eggs!
I bumped into a group of around 10 Wheatears just inland from Amlwch in some rocky sheep fields.
A "fall" of Wheatears. Mike Smith also noticed an arrival around Cemaes yesterday.
This first summer Med showed well again at Penrhos CP yesterday.
Fly-over Chough at the Cafe at South Stack yesterday.
Goldcrest on territory whilst doing a Breeding Bird survey yesterday.
Wembley Way on Saturday Morning. Had 85 Red Kites on the M40 between the M25 and the Oxford turn-off!
Reds and Blues went down togeather. Great atmosphere before the match (not sure about after, on the way home). Spotted Pete Fearon after the match and almost asked him to give us another talk at Bangor, but as he's a big Evertonian, I didn't think it was the best of times to ask him!
Another Blue Tit for Zac.
Les Colley had a female Marsh Harrier at Erddreiniog yesterday, so things are gradually coming in.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Great Orme/Conwy RSPB

Not a lot doing on the Great Orme this morning with a cool north easterly wind blowing. Main movement was meadow pipits and linnets with nearly 200 of the former and around 100 linnets. Only one wheatear found plus a couple of swallows overhead. A peregrine circled over and other birds seen were stonechat 1, pied wags 3, greenfinch 12, magpie 5, chough 2, raven 3, crow 11, buzzard 1. Interesting movement offshore with small parties of sandwich terns going through totalling 80+.
At Conwy RSPB two little ringed plovers were infront of Benarth hide with one of them in display flight calling as I walked along the boardwalk. Alse seen 2 wheatear and a male blackcap along with chiffs and a noticeable increase in willow warblers.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Ceredigion Birding best of the rest.

Ynys las and Borth Bay Many White Wagtails along the coast with 30+ birds in the Llanon / Llanrhystyd area. Also here, the first Hooded Crow recorded in Ceredigion since one spent a day in March 2000. A cracking bird, found during a morning out with Arfon Williams at Llanrhystyd. There was no hint of hybrid genes in it and was being given a real hard time by the local Carrion Crows. The Afoin Leri held a single Water Pipit and a few Common Sandpipers were also back. Great birds, Great County and a great set of local birders.

Coniferous Birding

I spent several hours birding the coniferous forest of Cross Inn in Ceredigion this week. What a great place this is. Easy access, just inland from the coast and gentle walks. Surprise on the first visit was 2 Great Grey Shrikes together in a clearfell - superb birds and heard in full song this morning. They even seemed to hunt together at one point with one bird watching from high and the other lower down. When then lower bird flew to the ground the other bird flew down and landed nearby on a smaller spruce. Willow Tits showed well and I even had the fortune of discovering a nest! Not many of those in Wales these days. Fantastic views of Crossbills with over 30 birds seen daily, some giving mind blowing views coming down to drink in puddles. Many juveniles amongst them too. Migrants were represented by Redstarts, Tree Pipits and many Blackcaps. Throw in Goshawk, Red Kites, Redpolls and Siskins the place was alive with birds. Well worth a visit if you're in the area.