Thursday, 28 February 2013

Conwy County Jackdaws Winter 2013 Feedback

I have recently received feedback on pictures that I have sent round a few people on the Jackdaws that I have found around Conwy County this winter. I have over 250 pictures of at least 12 ‘neck collared’ individuals. Most comments are adapted from Rudy Offereins emails. He wrote this interesting article for Dutch Birding on ‘Identification of eastern subspecies of Western Jackdaw and occurrence in the Netherlands’. Link here

This first bird turned up in my garden during the snow on 20/01/2013. This followed a period of snow and easterly winds. Alan Tilmouth wrote this on the birding frontiers website

I’ve also noticed that the timing is interesting with many of these ‘Eastern-type’ Jackdaws showing up from December onwards with a peak in February/March. There could be two factors at play here; weather related movements from the continent perhaps pushing birds further west in bad winters and the tendency for juveniles to move further than adults that only subsequently get detected as they begin to wear in late winter causing the collars and neck patches to become more prominent.

My garden Llandudno Junction 20/01/2013

Per Rudy, The birds in your garden are ‘classic’ monedula’s because of their pale and long collars and their pale under-parts where darker chevrons shine through. Local resident birds would have much
darker under-parts.

This is true as the accompanying local Jackdaws have almost, completely black under-parts. He also added.

Variation within spermologus is with these birds (because of the paler under-parts, combined with the pale collar) out of the question.

The same comment was given for this bird at Sychnant pass, Conwy 21/02/2013. These birds show a strong contrast between the black wings and paler under-parts and mantle.



The picture below was taken at Caerhun on 25/02/2013. It showed neck-collar but less paler under-parts. I was told as it has no clear marks on the under-parts it is best to leave these birds un-identified. However, looking more like the Russian race soemmerringii with their darker looking upper-parts and a neck-collar, I think they could be from the messy turrium intergrate of monedula and spermologus or, could also be part of the off-spring from the ‘Nordic origin’ birds that have stayed in Wales and bred.
Bird to be left un-identified, Caerhun

After keeping an eye on some of these individuals, most of these birds have now gone. I wonder how many ‘neck collared’ birds are seen from April onwards. Most of the birds I have seen are in stubble fields with other Jackdaws. Interestingly the biggest congregation of Jackdaws is in Conwy itself, but doesn’t seem to contain any neck collared birds.

From this feedback, I feel I now know which birds are more likely to be ‘monedula’ and which ones to ignore. Feel free to disagree with anything here or add any suggestions etc.
Final comment from Rudy

There is no chance of a full species status, but they are eastern birds and that's always a nice feature in Wales!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

An evening with the BBRC

A final reminder that the birders' social evening with the British Birds Rarities Committee is a week on Saturday (9 March) at RSPB Conwy.  Details on this post; please let us know by next Tuesday if you're coming so we can organise the catering!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Dodgy P'madog

 This caught my eye among the other European Wigeon on Llyn Bach, Porthmadog this afternoon.  Wigeon x Gadwall possibly or maybe some Yank Wigeon in there?

There were good numbers of Teal and Wigeon on the marsh and 10 Little Grebe with 5 on Llyn Bach and 5 on the Marsh.  20+ Blkwits also and a Treecreeper flying up the cob!  Approaching Llyn Bach a pipit flew up calling off the marsh and flew over the cob and sure it was a Water Pipit.  Up on the Foryd later afternoon was a Razorbill- just off the castle, 150 LB Brents, Grey Plover and a Spot Red on that inland flash that never has anything on it.

SCAN CAN 2- Norwegian sanderling

SCAN ringing group were out again this weekend and had a very successful catch this morning at Kinmel Bay.  Yesterday only 6 Ring Plover were caught at Rhos but this morning the group caught:

36 ringed plover, inc British control
168 sanderling, inc 15 retraps from 2 years ago, and adult bird with Norwegian ring (49juvs)
2 dunlin.

Interestingly a Norwegian ringed Turnstone was caught with the group's last catch there 2 years ago.


Liaison with a Redhead (Smew that is!)

After my fourth attempt this lovely Redhead was showing really well at Aberogwen this morning, quite close in, digiscoped snap as below:

Also on the fields was what I presumed to be a Greylag x Canada Goose Hybrid?

What happened to the sunshine??

Well lovely weather was the last blog and now the remaining birding days had everything but mmmmmmm.

Wednesday saw me traveling up to Denbigh arriving Dave's at 6am and then a quick switch over of cars and we were off to Worlds End in the hope of witnessing the Black Grouse lekking.

All I can say is what a strange name for a place , well that's what I thought until we got there! We could hardly see a thing!! The mist up there made even driving very difficult let alone us trying to spot the grouse.
It wasn't long until we heard the male's hissing and slamming wings together, then as it started to get slightly lighter we could just make out the dark shapes of 4 males in the mist and we could also hear some Red grouse. Then we spotted a Kestrel above the Grouse and that was that; they were spooked and flew off :-(

We decided to drive on a little further and wasn't long until we could hear a lot more Black Grouse lekking but there was no way of spotting them through the thickening mist so we decided to turn around and try the first stop again.  No good there either, so we decided to try and call up the Red Grouse and low and behold a lovely Male flew in from the thick mist. We watched him for a few minutes but he wouldn't come out from his hiding place behind the bracken until he flew off into the mist again.

Then a female walked out in front of the car and slowly made her way to some water on the edge of the road and after a very brief drink she turned and disappeared into the heathland.

Please excuse the VERY POOR quality of the pics but best I could do given the weather conditions :-(

So after Worlds End we decided to make our way back to Denbigh and try Bron Branog for the Great Grey Shrike. On route we had a few nice birds but the most impressive was a very bold Buzzard on the side of the road.
We arrived at Bron Branog and noticed the mist had followed us :-( but since Charlie needed her walk we carried on upwards.  It was a very quiet morning we bumped into a few birders and they hadn't seen anything of note but you never know so we arrived at the summit; mmmmm COLD in the mist and thick frost everywhere.  No chance of the shrike today then , but we did get a couple of bullfinches up there as a consolation prize.

So after the frosty uplands it was time for me to set off home so i picked up my car and said bye to Dave and Charlie and off homeward bound.

On the return trip home I stopped at Llanddulas and had a scan through the scoters plenty of common as per usual as well as Red-throated Divers and grebes but no sign of the surfs :-( a linnet sat on the fence in the carpark singing away with a mouthful of food! well it was a female,,,they can multi-task you know ;-)
From here I carried on towards home and as I emerged from the Conwy tunnel it was as if i had been catapulted forward to summer!! unreal !!  Anyway next stop was the Spinnies in search of the Smew which has been around there for some time now, fingers crossed.
The hides where very quiet but with full feeders the birds where plentiful. All the usual suspects and some lovely views of Long-tailed Tits nice to see them hanging around long enough to appreciate them.
The tide was right out but with great views through the scope i was made-up to pick out the Red head Smew, happy days!
On the return walk to my car it was lovely to see the wild flowers bursting into bloom in the warm sunshine even tho it was only a few hours ago i had been in lapland!

So the next time I got out to do any birding was Saturday with a quick trip to Flint to try to see the Twite which have been there for a few weeks or so now.  It wasn't long before we got onto them I counted 57 in all and I'm sure they're all in the first pic below, some great views but was bitterly cold so after a few record shots it was back to the car and heaters on full blast to defrost my fingers.
I tried to get back asap to Conwy so I could take the kids around the castle but low and behold FLASH!!!! bloody speed camera got me in Flint mmm well my own fault and to top it all the castle would be closed by the time we got there so visit there another day. so here's a few snaps of the Twite from my expensive visit to Flint lol

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Oystercatcher laying an egg

A short film by budding cameraman Hamza Yassin on birds and ringing some of which shot in North Wales and check out the Oystercatcher laying an egg- class. 


odd Pied Wagtail, or not.

This bird looked a bit odd to me today but I reckon is just a female winter plumaged yarrellii but I dont recall seeing anything quite like it before.  The extensive grey dusky flanks, fairly clean neckline as on alba, and uniform grey to mantle stood out.  Any thoughts?  It was in Penrhyn Bay on the horse field at Winllan near Creuddyn.

male Pied Wag yarrellii at Conwy RSPB taken by Pete Wood and I saw one like this today in Abergele
  Pied/White Wag alba at Conwy RSPB taken by me in April 2010 i think

colour-ringed Coot sighting, Abergele

A quick check of the coot today in Pentre Mawr Park, Abergele revealed one with a white darvic on left inscribed AJT.  It was ringed 8.10.12 at Pennington Flash, Greater Manchester a distance of 72km WSW.  Thanks to Kane Brides for swift response and feedback.  This was the first resighting of the individual.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Malltraeth Cob

Went there for my lunch-hour on wednesday. Fab weather and didn't want to go back to work in the afternoon. 2 Greenshank, 1 Spotshank,Snipe, a few Blackwits, 120 Dunlin. c.100 Pintail, nothing unusual just nice birds in a nice setting with A1 weather! I can see why Tunnicliffe settled there.

Llyn Cefni this Week

I managed half an hour at lunch today and yesterday plus an hour last night. No sign of the interesting Scaup today but I got a few good shots of this showy Water Rail (3+ in SE corner) in the path-side ditch in the SE corner today. I also had a Pink foot with the Greylags. Pinks are quite scarce on Anglesey despite being common as muck in Lancashire. Ken had 7 on Llyn Alaw on monday plus 3 Goosanders.There were 3 nice male Goldeneyes and 5 females,20 Wigeon, 100 Greylags and 60 Tufties and 15 Pochard.