Friday, 6 December 2013

Morfa Bychan - good birds an bad pictures

I spent a few hours at Black Rock, Morfa Bychan today. I got decent views of the two surf scoters at high tide from the rock itself. I could just see that one or possibly both had a faint bill pattern and nape patch suggesting that they are 1 w males – as Mike D suggested  having seen them last week. It will be interesting to see how they moult as winter  unfolds. 

 Other birds included a nice velvet close in and 8 Longtails – Elfyn later had 10 of these smart  little ducks.
 At the  southern end of the beach  a Black necked and Slav grebe kept each other company as the tide swept them swiftly downriver and out to sea. Nice to get side by side views of these.  A Great Northern snorkelled the shallows on the far side of the river channel and two little gulls, an adult and first winter flew downstream and joined a small feeding flock of black-heads at the river mouth.

 I was surprised to find a chiffchaff at Carreg Samson. A really striking pale bird with bright silver undersides and pale brown uppers with  a hint of green in the wing, a  bright supercillium as well.

 It reminded me of a Bonelli’s warbler (apart from the strong super and eye-stripe) it called only once – which was how I picked it up. Just a typical chiffchaff call rather than the bullfinch/dunnock  call of  Siberian chiffchaff. I did get some awful pics with my phone (apologies). I also played it recordings of  Siberian and common chiffchaff and it  responded very enthusiastically to both  - as it did to pishing as well! – no help there then. Any comments on this bird gratefully received
Walking back i noticed a a fresh dead porpoise on  the beach  - already showing signs of predation. I did search, but there were no red-faced small white gulls to be seen : (


  1. Hi Rhys, nice days birding! B N Grebe's a good find.
    Nice one with the Surfies. Did they look very similar to each other? Do you think your original bird is one of these? I wonder if there's an adult female knocking about in Harlech Bay or if that's all the "brown" Surfies there are - at least for the time being...
    Interesting Chiff. There's been some interesting information and discussion going on, and there's probably more to be said yet.
    Cheers, Mike.

  2. PS: There's a suggestion (a very good one) that it would be very useful to get some DNA from "Bonelli's-like" Chiffies - see the last 2 posts:

    Cheers, Mike.

  3. Rhys,
    I would expect this to be a 'tristis' from your pics and description. That it gave a 'collybita' type call doesn't rule this out. I'll chat to Kelvin to see if it's feasible to try to get a feather sample from this one - I don't know the site very well or the landowner. I understand the comparison with a Bonelli's but just to add that these would also show a pale head and stronger fringing of the flight feathers.
    Phil B