Saturday, 24 January 2015

RING OUZELS - Nant Francon

2 today in Nant Francon.  Second weekend up there looking for them.  First searched the area Brian had them, but no joy.  Later tried an area where I had a number of winter thrushes last Saturday on the A5 side of the river.  As you travel up the valley from Bethesda, there is a lay bye on the right which over looks a farm which I believe is called Braich tu du.  From a quick look at a map, this looks to be at SH6462.  The 2 birds were in the rocky enclosure below the road of the north end of the lay bye (Bethesda end). At one point they flew into a evergreen stunted tree on the far side of the lane to the farm.  After a while they dropped to the lane, worked their way through the wire fencing and back into the rocky enclosure.  A birder I met on the other side of the valley said that he had been told that their had been a family party of 6 birds in the valley during the late autum / early winter.  Anyway, my first January record so a big thanks to Brian for getting the news out.

17 Greenland White-fronted Geese at Malltraeth Marsh RSPB reserve

I popped over to Malltraeth Marsh today to catch up with flock of 17 Greenland White fronted geese that were first spotted (10) on the 18th January by Les Colley. They are showing really well at the moment giving great scope views.

There were at least 6 first year birds in the group of 17.
They have a smaller white patch and no obvious belly marks (medals).

Les Colley

The goose field. It's the one with the short cropped grass and not much water.

It's quicker to access from Pont Marquis (thumb).
My finger points to the goose field.

Juvenile at the front.

Mute Swan.

5 adult Whoopers are in the field.

17 Greenland Whitefronts.
There are also Greylags with the flock.

It's also a good spot for Fieldfares.

Saturday, 17 January 2015


The grid reference is SH 643609. Take the old road from Bethesda. Up the valley to the second cattle grid,by the track to Blaen Y Nant farm.The birds yesterday were on the wall below the road but mostly on the grass slopes,in the bare Rowan trees and around the large boulders,with a small number of Fieldfare and Mistle Thrushes.May need to climb up the side along the fence as they are often out of view from the road.

Friday, 16 January 2015


Four male Ring Ouzels over Wintering in Nant Francon seen midday today.Part of an unusual period in Nant Francon. I have never seen so many thrushes up there, as I have this Winter.. Throughout December there were 250 plus Fieldfare,50 plus Redwing,plus up to 10 Mistle Trushes and several Blackbirds,and I had single Ring Ouzels on the 5th & 6th, The Fieldfare numbers have steadily decreased down to 20 plus birds at present.It is unusual as there is snow lying on the ground,all the berries have been stripped. The birds are feeding on the grass. The Ring Ouzels look in pretty poor condition,which I suppose is to be expected. This afternoon I disturbed a Dipper feeding on lichen on a rock on the Llyn Ogwen shoreline.It flew about 40 yards out onto the lake. It sat like a duck,then dived 10/12 times feeding,I watched it for 5 minutes then left. I have seen Dipper do this in a river or stream,but never so far away from the bank or anything terra firma.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Mark Cocker : Birds and People, coming to Bangor soon!

One for the diary. Don't miss this one whatever you do!
Mark Cocker is giving a talk at Bangor Bird-group in February. It's not often Mark comes to our neck of the woods so it is an opportunity not to be missed.It is a special additional meeting to the normal programme and is being held on a Thursday, not the usual Wednesday and in the Thoday (not the usual Brambell) building (next door but one building to the Brambell building going towards the Harbour not the train station).

Mark Cocker  Birds and People
Thursday 26th Feb 2015
Thoday Building, Bangor University
Door open 7pm for 7.30 start (prompt)
Cost Bangor Bird-group members free
Non-members £2 on the door.
First come first served

Birds and People by Mark Cocker 

A vast in scope and full of David Tipling’s bewitching photographs, Birds and People was described by the poet Craig Brown as ’the kind of masterpiece that comes along only once or twice a decade’. It took seven years to produce, incorporates contributions from 650 people in 81 countries and involved travel on all seven continents. In his talk about the book, Mark Cocker explains the ideas that shaped it and the work that went into its creation. 

Mark Cocker is an author, naturalist and environmental activist who writes and broadcasts on nature and wildlife in a variety of national media. His ten books include works of biography, history, literary criticism and memoir. His latest books are Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet (2014) and Birds and People (Jonathan Cape), which was published to international acclaim in 2013 and was a collaboration with the photographer David Tipling. His previous book Crow Country was shortlisted for several awards, including the Samuel Johnson Prize (2008), and won the New Angle Prize for Literature (2009). He is a co-founder of New Networks for Nature, an eco organisation that asserts the central importance of landscape and nature in British cultural life. For the last 35 years his home has been in Norfolk, where time is divided between the county's celebrated wildlife, an organic allotment and the restoration of a small wooded fen. He is married to the arts professional Mary Muir.

Bird conservation in Wales: What the future holds?

Julian Hughes (RSPB Conwy) will be talking about bird conservation in Wales : What the future holds? @ Bangor Birdgroup this Wednesday, kick-off 7.30. See you there hopefully :-)

Sunday, 11 January 2015

RSPB Conwy sightings board

At least one firecrest still on the reserve at lunchtime (Henry Cook), I heard the Cetti's warbler again this morning and the first woodcock of the year was seen today - all three around the Bridge Pond, the most sheltered place on the whole site.

A couple of choughs have been seen at dawn most days, and a couple of kestrels are regularly hunting over the saltmarsh, a sadly all-too-rare an occurrence these days.  Thanks to Clive Roberts for the photo, from the reserve's Flickr page.

This week's update on the reserve blog.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Whooper Swans plus bits and bobs

It's the national census next weekend. There had been 12-14 between Llangefni and Llanerchymedd at the start of December but they moved when there was a cold snap prior to Christmas. On Thursday the 8th Jan I had 6 leaving Llyn Cefni at 8.20 am. Has anyone seen them feeding in the day recently? I had a Tawny Owl on the 6th in Llanerchymedd and Woodcocks recently near Valley and Llanfechell in the evening Twilight Zone/Woodcock window!

North Wales News Today

Norman had 2 GND's, 1 Slav, 1 Med and 195 Brents at Penrhos Car Parc today, plus a LT Duck, GND and a single Med on the Inland Sea by the Anchorage.
Ken had a Bonxie, 5 RTD'd and 4 Gannets off North Stack.
(There were 4 male Surf Scoters and 5 Velvets off old Colwyn today. A Little Auk passed Old Colwyn at 10.55 am. There were 2 Little Gulls on the Glaslyn Marshes and 40 Twite (down from 95 on the 23rd Dec) and 7 Spotshanks at Connahs Quay NR. per birdguides).
David Wright put out this news today.
"Did a tour of Anglesey's wind-lashed north coast this morning. A Little Auk and thirty Fulmars past Point Lynas in a short seawatch. Single Little Gull and thirty Kittiwakes off Bull Bay. Two Bonxies harassing gulls in Holyhead Bay, Ken Croft had another past North Stack. Single Great Northern Divers in Holyhead Bay and in the harbour plus two Black Guillemots. Up to six Med Gulls off Penrhos (and a bacon butty).
Yesterday single Great Northern Diver, two Black Guillemots, 120 Knot, 1 Whimbrel and a Purple Sandpiper at Moelfre. Approx 20 Bottle nosed Dolphins visible east of Ynys Moelfre. A good couple of days."

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Shotwick Boating Lake Superb Swan Selection!

On our way over for a family day out near Chester today we popped over to the Boating lake on the border. What a fabulous spot. There were 69 Swans today. Recent counts have included 1 Black Swan (Australian escapee), 28 Russian Bewick's Swans, 13 Icelandic Whooper Swans and 26 resident Mute Swans. There aren't many places you can see 4 species of Swan in one flock! Also on the Boating lake there were 3 Black necked Grebes and whilst I was there I had a flyover Great White egret. Not the best shot, but two other groups of birders had better views as it flew over their heads with it's large yellow bill! A great spot! I'm not sure on access here. The gate was open today, but to be on the safe side it is probably best parking outside the gate by the "under-pass" and walking in to avoid any awkward situations, i.e. getting locked in !

Grebe corner

Black necked Grebe

Bewick's, Mute and Black Swan

Same as above

Mute's fly in

Look at the size difference in Whooper (left) and Bewicks.

Grebe Corner

Great White Egret

Rhys Swan Spotting

Long tailed duck day

Normans had a good morning with these ducks. One from the bus stop at Llyn Penrhyn and two from the Anchorage at Four mile bridge on the inland sea.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Check them gulls!

There's quite a few Ring billed Gulls in Ireland so keep your eyes peeled!

Anglesey Today

Ben Stammers and Paddy did a bird-race on the island and threw the gauntlet down to anyone else having a go at 104 species, with Short Eared Owl the highlight at Llyn Coron. Cemlyn today had 3 Purple Sands, c.200 Curlew, 12 Grey Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 4 Twite, 2 Goldeneye, 2 Greenshanks and  1 RT Diver. Norman had 2 GND's on the Inland Sea and 4 Slavs in Beddmanarch Bay and the LT Duck was still on Llyn Penrhyn (there has been another on the Inland Sea recently but not today), Ken had similar stuff plus a Med Gull in Beddmanarch Bay. I had the Cemlyn stuff plus Common Seal and Gannet off Amlwch Port, 3 Red Squirrels at Llyn Parc Mawr ("Birdless Pool"), 1000+ Lapwing and a few dozen Pintail at Malltraeth Cob (great light!), Martin had 8 Jack Snipe at Dulas (with Brian Iddon), 7 Black Guillimots, and 20+ RT Divers  at Traeth yr Ora and 10 Pale Brents at the Dulas Estuary.
Llyn Parc Mawr

Squirrel spotting!

Malltraeth Lapwings

Bird-race boys

Adding Twite to the list!

Friday, 2 January 2015

New County Bird Recorder for Anglesey

Yes Happy New Year to you all. So out with the old and in with the new. I've been the County recorder for Anglesey since the 1998 report but I've decided to stand down. Many thanks to everyone who has sent me records and helped me over the years. Thankfully I have managed to find a suitable successor in the form of Robin Sandham. The official handover took place yesterday, the 1st January, in a field in a neutral County, Yorkshire. It wasn't planned, it just had something to do with there being a Little Bustard there!
Good luck to Rob and thanks again to everyone for their records over the years. 

Please could you send future Anglesey records to

Robin Sandham

Neckarmont, Woodlands, Conwy, LL32 8LT