Saturday, 31 October 2015

Anglesey Halloween Thrush-fest!

We came out of the kids Halloween Disco at 8 pm and I pointed out to them the constant drawn-out tseeep-like call of the Redwings passing overhead. It's a common sound in October and November as birds pile into the UK and Ireland to escape the cold Northern winters. Tonight was quite unusual in that it's the last day of October and it's extremely mild and there's no wind. So presumably the birds are making the most of ideal weather conditions for an-incident free night of passage across North West Europe. However tonight the Redwing passage was constant and un-interrupted, with their "tseeep" - like call being heard every few seconds. I must confess that when I hear them normally I am always pleased to hear them and may stand there for a few minutes. However as it was more noticeably audible in the night sky I stayed out their for about 15 minutes and got the kids out who were also fascinated. But tonight amongst the Redwings I could also hear Fieldfares, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds amongst the Redwings, it was amazing, and the kids were also amazed at the constant calls of the different types of birds passing over-head, no-doubt tonight in their thousands. I've seen on the internet recently radar-maps of bird migration. I wonder if anyone has any contacts at RAF Valley who could confirm the degree of migration over Anglesey on Halloween via Radar, and did anyone else out there pick up on the scale of over-head migration tonight? It was a real treat!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Bits and Bobs

The only birding I've managed this week is walking to and from my car on my way to work, shocking really (Gareth and Dafydd ;-) However I did have my first two local Fieldfares of the winter fly over the house in Cemaes on Monday (19th Oct). Mike Smith had 3 Whooper Swans fly over Cemaes on Wednesday and the Great grey Shrike was showing well again at the usual spot near Prenteg, Porthmadog yesterday (see earlier post). However my highlight this week was a very vocal Brambling "squerking" as it flew over my house this morning. That put a smile on my face.
"I love the sound of Brambling in the morning!", it's better than the smell of napalm anyway ;-)

Monday, 19 October 2015

Pallas's Warbler and Firecrest

One of these little beauties was on Bardsey today. Here's a shot I got of one on Saturday where I popped over to the East Coast for the day. Between Spurn and Flamborough I had 2 Pallas's Warblers, Firecrest, American Golden Plover, 2 GG Shrikes, Jack Snipe bobbing,  Siberian Stonechat and lots of visible migration. Redwings, Fieldfare and Swallow overhead together, Goldcrests in every bush. You really do get to see migration in full swing, plus a handful of rare/scarce birds all in one day = happy birder!
Otherwise today there were 2 Firecrests reported at Conwy RSPB, hopefully back for the winter.

The Somerset Levels comes to Bangor

I visited the Somerset Levels this spring to see this cracking Hudsonian Godwit. Whilst obviously being very happy to see this very striking and very rare bird I was also amazed at the amount of other good birds on show. Numerous Bitterns booming and flying around, Great White Egrets, Cranes, Cetti's Warblers and Little Bittern's have bred there recently too! This has to be one of, if not the best wetland area in the UK. So if you can this Wednesday, why not come over to Bangor Bird-group to see Mike Roberts (Birder/Photographer) who is kindly coming over from the North West to tell us all about this wetland area that has a special place in his heart.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey III

The United Kingdom is internationally important for its numbers of wintering waterbirds, and many of these are monitored annually by the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) counts. However, the WeBS counts are mostly made on estuaries and inland waterbodies, therefore leaving the majority of the coastline uncounted. The 2015/16 Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey (NEWS) will focus coverage on these important and under-recorded habitats.

 It is known that important populations of several species such as Purple Sandpipers and Turnstone occur around our shores outside of estuaries, and consequently are not monitored annually.  Following the original Winter Shorebird Count carried out in 1985 and NEWS counts in 1997/98 and 2006/07, the third repeat of NEWS will be carried out this coming winter.

The non-estuarine coastline is broken up into count sectors approximately 2km long, though some are shorter and some longer.  There are 10 priority sections which have been selected at random in each region.  These priority sections will be allocated first and then the others will be available for allocation.  The survey runs from 1st December 2015 to 31st January 2016 and just a single count is needed, with all birds and mammals using the section recorded.

How to take part

  • The survey will be carried out in conjunction with the Wetland Bird Survey, so if you are an existing WeBS Counter who uses WeBS Online, the NEWS options to select sectors will automatically appear on your WeBS Data Home page. 
  • If you are not a WeBS Counter but you have taken part in one of the BTO's online surveys (BBS, Atlas, BirdTrack etc) then please visit Survey Home where you will find a NEWS bar in your list of available surveys.  Click on the word "Setup" to gain access to the online interface to be able to request your sectors and input your counts.
  • If you have not used WeBS Online before or do not have a BTO username you will need to register for an online username and password, then please visit Survey Home to see the NEWS bar.  Click on the word "Setup" to gain access to the online interface to be able to select your sectors and input your counts.
  • You can request any sector to count, though we do ask that if possible you choose one of the priority sections.
Further details from your WSeBS organiser or Kelvin at BTO Cymru.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Barn Owls

Babs O'Hara , RSPB South Stack volunteer informed me that a Barn Owl had been seen dead at Llandadrig, Cemaes so I went to check it out this morning. When I found the place, the holidaymakers took me to the spot where it was snagged on a fence. It had got its toe stuck in the barbed wire and was dangling upside down, with it's de-capitated head half a metre below on the floor, sad but bizarre! All I can think is it got it's foot stuck in the wire fence and died and perhaps a fox had pulled off it's head and didn't like the taste. I'm sure I heard somewhere that owls taste funny, but I could be mistaking them with Choughs? Does anyone out there know?
Anyway, Kelvin, it also had a ring on it FH96513, it was retrieved this morning at SH377 943 any history would be appreciated. Mike T, sadly this could have been the bird you had roosting in a cave at White Lady Bay last winter.
Barn Owls have no luck on Anglesey. About 120 -140 ish have been picked up dead on the A55, on Anglesey, since it opened 14 years ago, so that's approximately 10 a year and there are only estimated to be about 30 pairs on the Island. However the Cemlyn birds have been showing recently which is nice to see, so there are still some alive on Anglesey!

Yesterday and today's News

Yesterday Brian Iddon had 2 Curlew Sands and a fly-over Lap bunt at Cemlyn. The Spoonbills were at Conwy RSPB in the morning only but there was a possible sighting of them over Malltraeth RSPB in the afternoon (Jim Bach).This morning Ken had 16 Fieldfare at South Stack plus Chiffchaff, Bullfinch and Reed Bunting. Yesterday he had a Richard's Pipit over Holyhead Mountain flying towards South Stack and a Brambling in his Holyhead garden. Today Firecrests were 200m East of Morfa Aber in a gorse bank (Hennerz) and on the Great Orme in Llys Helig Drive by the enterance to Broad Eaves House (Alan or per Alan).
ps. Alan Davies got out to Puffin Island yesterday to sort out the Sea-eagle reports. After checking photos, it turned out to be a Buzzard.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Spain in Bangor!

Alan Davies and Ruth Miller of The Biggest Twitch fame will be talking about Birdwatching in Spain at Bangor Birdgroup tomorrow. Doors open at 7 for a 7.30 start. It should be a good talk so hopefully see you there!

North Wales Today

Yellow browed Warbler, Wylfa Clubhouse, 10th October

The three Spoobills were still at Conwy RSPB from the Tal-y-fan hide today.
This or another Yellow browed Warbler was with a tit-flock at the car park to Wylfa head (Tony W). At Cemlyn 4 Lapland Buntings flew East over Bryn Aber walled house (David W). A Richards Pipit flew west over Hen Borth (John D), and a Hobby was reported from Carmel Head on Birdguides. Otherwise there was a Sabine's gull passed Bardsey. A bit further afield there was a Wilson's Warbler on the Isle of Lewis, hopefully Ken Croft can find one at South Stack plantation, please. 
No pressure ;-)

Monday, 12 October 2015

The Prenteg GG Shrike

It was found a week ago by Tony Pope and was seen again on Thursday and Saturday morning by Kelvin Jones. However I've tried twice with no joy so think it is wandering a little, but it's favourite spot seems to be by this old house, ironically called Ty Newydd (New House!). Good luck if you try.

Spoonbills at Conwy

Here's a shot of the three juvenile Spoonbills seen at Conwy RSPB yesterday found by Tony White. They were in the Midlands earlier that day and included a Dutch ringed individual. I hope they are still there today.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Birds on the move

Tony White found a Yellow Browed warbler at Wylfa today near the visitors center at 9.20. It turned up again nearby and was still with tits and goldcrests at 12 noon by the Social club. I bumped into it whilst collecting conkers with the kids! At c11am 65 Pink footed geese flew west over here. We then went to Coffee cups at Penrhos country Park where a flock of 15 coal tits fell out of the sky into a nearby bush then flew off again high, calling, over the cob embankment towards Valley.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Redwings, Jays and Coal tits

Sticking my head out of the skylight just before midnight I heard my first two Redwings of the autumn tonight. I had four jays flying over open fields passed Coedanna today and 6 at HHBWCP on Sunday, plus one in Cemaes then. They are obviously birds on the move but where from? There also seems to be plenty Coal tits around with a group of 5 in Holyhead BWCP on Sunday and an unusual presence on our estate the week before. I notice there has been plenty on the Orme recently. Are these British or continental birds? If continental was there any arriving at Spurn at the weekend Marc? I noticed there was also a report of a Continental tree-creeper on the Orme today. Does anyone know who had that?

Risso's around!

At least 50 Risso's dolphins are around North Anglesey at the mo! 4 were at Point Lynas today but, like last year, they are showing well off Bull bay, East Mouse and Amlwch Port. Thanks to Mike Thompson for the heads up!

Alpine Swift still there

The Swift was seen over Penrhyn Bay again on and off until 4.30pm  at least so is probably still in the area!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Alpine Swift over the Little Orme

Hennerz found an Alpine swift over the Little Orme and Penrhyn bay this evening, last seen feeding with bats at dusk so presumably has roosted in the area, so it would definitely be worth heading out there at dawn in case it puts in a repeat performance!