Monday, 20 May 2013

North Wales Bird Race, May 19th 2013 - 139 species

Chris Jones, Henry Cook a.k.a. Henerz and I delayed our annual birdrace by 24 hours for two reasons; the weather forecast was much better for Sunday and the fact that a Dusky Thrush turned up in Kent and the aforementioned two needed to tick it!

As official total and list keeper, I know Henerz is writing a detailed report on the day, however in the meantime I thought I'd post a quick overview of the highlights of the day. 

Highlights - For pure birding spectacle, the Black Grouse event at World's End was stunning with at least 8 male Black Grouse seen with several lecking on the side of the road and watched from the car was a very close second place in the day's highlight league table. First place for me was my first roding Woodcock for over 25 years, in exactly the same place as my first. In the fading light at the end of a long hard day's birding, the grunts and clicks of a Woodock overhead will remain with me for a very long time - what a way to finish.
Find highlights included a fine drake Garganey on the flooded field just north of Shotwick Boating Lake was an unexpected bonus while equally surprising was a stunning full summer plumaged Black Tern feeding off AberOgwen with Common and Arctic Terns.

Conwy RSPB 3.30am - Water Rail, Reed and Sedge Warbler
World's End - Amazing views of lecking Black Grouse by the road, Red Grouse, Whinchat and Cuckoos
Shotwick Boating Lake - drake Garganey, Avocet, Black tailed godwit, Teal, Arctic Tern and 2 Yellow Wagtails
Gronant - 20+ Little Terns, Common Scoter
River Clwyd - Common Gull and Whimbrel
Bodeelwyddan - Lesser Whitethroat
Llanddulas - Dipper and Mandarin Duck
Conwy RSPB - Little Ringed Plover and Red Kite
Llanbedr y Cennin - 4 Hawfinch and Yellowhammer
Llanfairfechan - 6 Red throated Divers, Common Terns and Peregrine 
Cemlyn - Knot, Mediterranean Gull and Turnstone
Holyhead and South Stack - Black Guillemot, Puffin, Chough, Manx Shearwater and Rock Pipit
Valley Lakes - Pochard and Cetti's Warbler
AberOgwen - summer plumaged Black Tern, 15+ Eider, 10+ Goosander and 4 Bar tailed Godwits
Nant Ffrancon - Twite and Ring Ouzel
Gwydir Forest 10pm - Tawny Owl and roding Woodcock.

Missed nightmares - Nuthatch and Sparrowhawk!

Great fun and some amazing birds. For anyone not tried bird racing - give it a go. It seems to be a bit of a dying past time with less people doing it. What a great way to spend 24 hours in beautiful (and on occasions not so beautiful) places, seeing and finding some great birds, great banter and laughs, highs and lows and a chance to boost the year list.

Oh.. and we managed 139 species, still six short of beating our record. Anyone out there up for the challenge?

 Absolutely stunning - give me moments like this over travelling 10 hours in a car to see a far flung lost migrant anyday!
 Below - Chris and Henerz in the beautiful Nant Ffrancon Valley grinning after just nailing singing Twite and a nice male Ring Ouzel in Snowdonia's spectacular countryside.


  1. Brilliant Marc a superb day the record will have to wait until next time!

  2. Sounds like it was a superb day....maybe next time I'll come and join in the fun!

  3. Great report. Thank you so much!

  4. Nice one Marc. Where is the flood north of Shotwick? Had a wonder along the new cycle path recently which gives some reasonable views of shotwick fields and parts of BMW. in the past year the welsh side of IMF / Shotwick has given me black winged pratincole, great egret, avocet, garganey, blue winged teal, marsh harrier and lesser scaup. It's got great potential.

  5. Thanks everyone. Kev- the flooded area is the fields btn IMF and Shotwick viewable from the waterworks. I presume it's part of the reserve as it's directly south of the reserve. Cracking area and easily viewable from Shotwick.

  6. cheers Marc. Must be a bit wetter than a few weeks ago when I was last there.

  7. It scares me that I knew literally the exact spot you were stood in Nant Ffrancon based on the angle you were viewing Tryan and the south western slope of Pen yr ole Wen! ...Get off my land ;)