Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Cream Coloured Courser

Here is a short video of the superb adult Cream Coloured Courser at Bradnor Hill, Herefordshire. A memory that'll stay will me certainly forever! Also, you won't get too many occasions, where you'll see a Cream Coloured Courser in the same video as sheep!

For the report, please see

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Dragonflies on the wing

A few odonata species now on the wing with this warm weather and in the Gwydyr Forest today a good number of four-spotted chasers were seen at places like Cors Bodgynydd plus common, blue-tailed and large red damselflies on view. Birdwise wood warblers, tree pipits and a cuckoo were the best.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Presumed Continental Red Kites on Anglesey

 The above 6 shots were of 2 of the four birds (all visible at the same time)  I had at Llanrhuddlad over the road and feeding on carrion (A5025) about 5km SW of Cemaes Bay on Saturday 26th May.
 This Red Kite (above) flew over my estate as I walked out of the front door on Sunday 27th  May at 7.20 am.It showed 6 obvious primary fingers, presumably because the inner-most primaries still need to grow.
 A presumed resident Red Kite in the Conwy Valley taken this Sunday. Note 5 "fingers".
 A five fingered Red Kite in fine fettle at Rhayader (February).
 A six fingered Black Kite in February at Rhayadr a few years back (2010). Although it shows six fingers its a stockier bird, less "floppy" with a squarer tail, more like a cross between a Red Kite and a Marsh Harrier.
The same first year Rhayadr Black Kite.

One of my biggest Bogey birds for Anglesey has been Red Kite. I've never been in the right place at the right time. On Saturday morning when I was in St Helens, even a lady I used to work with text me to tell me she was watching two Red Kites over Beaumaris at 9.20am! When I came back to Anglesey later that day as I came over the brow of the hill at Llanrhuddladd there were 2 Kites over the road, at last! I jumped out of the car and scanned around and to my amazement I could see 4 Kites at once and rattled off a few photos! A few passers by even stopped to enjoy the birds.
Next day I had another Red Kite as I walked out of my front door, amazing! I got a shot off. It was a Red kite but had 6 obvious fingers which I always thought was a feature of Black Kites? I've included some Black Kite photos but presume the Red Kite over my estate simply hadn't fully grown it's innermost primaries so it had 6 fingers (possible ID pitfall, so structure/colouration should be carefully noted too). Otherwise it was a typical Red Kite.
Over the weekend there were 3 at Llansadwrn on Friday, 2 Beaumaris, 4 Llanrhuddladd, 2 Llyn Llewenan, 2 Llanfair PG and 1 Malltraeth Marsh on Saturday with 1 at Cemaes on Sunday, amazing. Presumably these will be birds from the migratory northern European population that had been pushed west by a few days of Easterly winds into the UK and Anglesey!

Mipit Brood

 Tricky to spot, the adults are quite crafty visiting but after a few minutes watching the general area was narrowed down.
 Single Magpie chick

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Calling Quail, Holt

Following up a report of a singing quail at Holt near Wrexham, we checked it out this afternoon having failed on Friday. This time we heard the bird calling from the lane at SJ410532 south of A534. A short hobble along the farm track gave us a better listen but the bird was well into the large field. Plenty of yellowhammer singing from the hedgerows.

Snipe Drumming - one of the incredible sounds of Spring!

Click here to hear sound recording -

One of my favourite sounds of the Spring - a drumming Snipe. To think that the noise is made by using it's outer tail feathers is amazing. Look at the weird Sonogram (if you can call a non call / song a sonogram). This bird was drumming at dusk up in the Gwydir on Friday evening.

Tony Kearney reported up to 9 Nightjars in various parts of the Gwydir last night - amazing! He also came face to face with a massive Bull at midnight - he's still shaking now!!!

Treaddur Bay Buzzard - good learning!

Yesterday, at 11.50am a Buzzard sp. was picked up coming in off the sea being chased by Gulls. It flew past six observers - Ken Croft, Mike Duckham, Alex Jones, Chris Jones, Zac Hinchcliffe and myself. It was first called Honey Buzzard, then Osprey, then Buzzard and after some confusion finally called Honey Buzzard again based on structure and baring on the secondaries. The bird was very sgraggy and was really struggling as it came in, looking shattered as it battled against a brisk easterly wind. When it landed it had a very strange looking profile, almost like a massive gull! It was being given a really bad time by the local corvids and gulls. At this point and with this profile we were happy that by process of elimination it was a Honey Buzzard and thus, albeit rather hastily, put the news out as such.

Meanwhile Chris Jones and Alex Jones had run almost half a mile to the car to get their scopes and scoped the bird at closer range. When they walked back they looked disappointed as what they had seen didn't add up to Honey Buzzard and were worried that we had mis i.d. the bird and it was infact Common Buzzard all along due to the yellowish cere, some streaking on the head and hint of a pale breast band above a darkish chest - all pro Common Buzzard features.

On downloading the pictures last night, Mike and I spent a long time looking at them, humming and haaing, about some of the features. One thing that we were fairly sure of is that the bird was not in moult as any missing feathers were far from symmetrical. The bird had lost at least p6 and p7 on the left and perhaps p9 on the right (although this was only picked up in photos later).

Some features that are really puzzling me - some seen in the field, others from a set of poor quality photos are as follows-
  • On the side on image when blown up the bird seems to have 6 primaries on the right wing. P10 is there, p9 is missing and seems to be hanging off and twisted. p8 is there, p7 is partially hidden by the twisted pale feather (which i think is p9), p 6 is there and p 5 is there = 6 primaries. Black Kite has six primaries, Common and European Honey Buzzards have 5.
  • Longish tail and protruding head.
  • evident notch in tail - looking almost forked.
  • Bulging secondaries in some photos.
  • Pinched in wings at body
  • barring on the secondaries. In one photo where the underwing is backlit the barring seems to go right into the body.
  • Common Buzzards were not being mobbed and the three in the area were being left well alone - this bird caused 18 Chough, Carrion Crows a Raven and several gulls to get very agitated and even dive bomb or chase it.
  • Have you ever seen a profile of a Common Buzzard on the ground that looks like this? Leggy and long. Look at that head shape. To me it almost reminds me of a large gull.
  • The fact that it was called as a Honey Buzzard / Osprey as it came in and was only questioned as a Common Buzzard as it flew past, but then Honey Buzzard again when relying on jizz. You'd think six fairly experienced birders could decide on a species of bird that most see thousands of Common Buzzards each year and many Honey Buzzards abroad!
  • If it was in moult (which we don't think it was, as the feather loss was far from symmetrical) 2cy Common Buzzards moult their inner primaries around May-June, leaving just the outer most primaries, while 2cy Honey Buzzards moult in Feb-March in the same way. If it was moult, then this would rule out 2cy Honey Buzzard, especially as 2cy birds don't leave Africa! However, the bird looked battered and bruised rather than being in moult.

Spring hots up

Temperatures are already high by 10am on the island. Yesterday's Black Kite was seen at 0610 so may well have roosted on the island overnight. Sorry about the poor image quality of the back of my SLR.

The bird was seen later over Uwhcynydd by Kim Atkinson.

Yesterday evening a hippo was seen briefly in Cristin Withy, probably an Icy with the number there are about but we shall never know. No sign today so far. However the stakeout of the withy produced first of all a Firecrest. Only the second in 12 months. And the a little later a common Rosefinch. This bird was mobile and was eventually lured into a trap.

It is fantastically sunny and the island looks wonderfully green for the time of year.

This morning there were several redpolls about. On was fabulous. It had completely white Under tail coverts and was basically monochrome with no warmth in its plumage, massive white wing bars and very boldly streaked flanks. Another non-Welsh bird, but from where it is from I wish I only knew.

North Wales Bird Race - 133 species

Great day Friday night and Yesterday. Mike Duckham, Zac Hinchcliffe, Chris Jones, Ken Croft and myself set out for a 24 hour extravaganza at 6pm on Friday night and finished at 6pm last night. Quality birds, quality scenery and quality weather. Finished with 133 species (or 132 depending on the Honey Buzzard outcome - to be posted later). Highlights were:-
 Llanbedr y Cenin - Yellowhammer
Hafod Woods - Pied Fly, Wood Warbler
Moors - Hen Harrier, Red Grouse, Whinchats, 9 Red Kites
Betws y Coed - Grey Wagtail and Dipper
 Gwydir - 3 Nightjars, Snipe drumming, Goosanders, Cuckoo
Malltraeth Marsh - Baillon's Crake, Water Rail, Red Kite
Cemlyn - Curlew Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Med Gull
Alaw Estuary - Knot, Barwit and Sanderlings
Penmon - Crossbill, 4 Auks, Eider
Valley Lakes - Barnacle Goose
Llywenan - Marsh Harrier
Treaddur Bay - Reed Warbler, Honey Buzzard (post later - not sure about this one)
South Stack - Hooded Crow - a real one!
Ogwen Valley - Ring Ouzel, Wheatear
AberOgwen - Common Gull
Pensychnant - Redstart
Conwy RSPB - Little ringed Plover, Whimbrel and Sparrowhawk
Good day all around - cheers to the lads for the company.
Pictures below (click to enlarge) show Marsh Harrier (top) and the Buzzard sp. (bottom 2) that came in off the sea at Treaddur Bay, looked shattered, beaten up by mobbing birds and landed on the rocks above the cliffs. This bird has caused some confusion. More discussion later.

Quail calling on the Orme
A Quail was singing on the Great orme this morning for an hour or so, in bracken above the cemetery and below the car park. This is the first site record as far as I'm aware. At one stage (when Pete Alderson and John Roberts had arrived) the bird seemed to call from just feet away! Unfortunately it wasn't seen. The picture below shows the sonogram and the link above the recording The Quail song can be seen at 0.5 and again at 1.5 and around 4.5, 5.5 and 6.5 second onwards and show as a triple call between 1.5 and 5.5 kHz and a grnt at around 3.5 seconds. Ignire the chaffinch from 3.5-5.5 seconds. - taken with my new Olympus LS11 recocrding device and uploaded onto Ravenlite 1.0.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Twitchers out of line again sadly! The Baillon's Crake on Malltraeth Marsh RSPB reserve has attracted a lot of interest as any mega rare bird would. The majority of birders/twitchers have behaved well on site and been content with hearing the bird from an area opened up by the RSPB especially for visitiors keen to the hear the bird. The derelict buildings on the site are strictly out of bounds to all but sad to report at least four twitchers have climbed the dangerous building and not only that have used tape lures to see the bird while those who followed RSPB advice heard it but did not see the bird. What gives these idiots the right to ignore advice of the landowners and trespass? This behaviour will surely result in future rare birds being suppressed at this site, and likely other RSPB reserves. Thanks very much you inconsiderate idiots! If information is correct the situation is made worse by these same people being involved in national bird information services, they are paid staff, and these same services say "bird is impossible to see" which of course is correct if you respect on site directions from the RSPB landowner! And people complain about suppression? No wonder with people like this in the birding community! If you see people out of line, not just here, but at any twitch please speak up and try and stop this minority from yet again tarring birding/twitching with a bad name. Alan and Ruth

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Baillon's Crake Sound recordings

Click on the link for Baillon's Crake calling at Malltraeth Marsh RSPB this evening - Here is a sonogram of the crake calling - the call is the tightly packed lines between 2.5 and 4.0 kHz on 3, 6,9, 17, 22,24,26 and 30 seconds- click on the picture for an enlarged sonogram.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Baillon's Crake, Malltraeth Marsh RSPB

The crake was heard again this evening at 20-40m range but not viewable.  Access from A5 to carpark at SH464725.  It called most this eve between 22:00-22:30.  Sound recordings to follow.
Thanks to RSPB for allowing access to 'listening' area.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Cream Coloured Courser

On crest of a Wave

Put the moth trap back on last night after hols and ended up catching a new garden record, a smart Waved Umber. Two shuttle shaped darts also caught.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Glaslyn gulls.

A cracking Summer-plumaged adult Little Gull was on Llyn Bach at Porthmadog this afternoon before flying over to the Glaslyn nearby where it was joined by an Iceland Gull.

Courser, Bradnor Hill, Herefordshire

Wow!  Bleary-eyed turning my phone alarm off this morning, like many other people, I also made out a series of messages along the lines of "CCC, Hereford, f###laming heck".  A few hours later saw John R, Kev 'crutch' and I on England's highest golf course in blazing sunshine watching a crippling full adult Cream-coloured Courser running around the 8th fairway and adjacent area of short bracken.  In all the excitement my camera was on a low rez setting and together with a 'respectable' distance and heat-haze they're quite poor but you get the gist. 
Nicely unblocked from the smug Scilly crew.  Very pleased that other NW birders got there today too.