Sunday, 29 November 2015

Female Scaup at Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay

Female Greater Scaup was still showing incredibly well on the main pond at Eirias Park.
 The bird was even repeatedly diving for food.
The bird looked pretty settled loafing around with the local Mallards.
Cracking little bird.

See more here.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


  In Ceredigion there are just about no opportunities to see colour-ringed geese, but we do get lots of Mediterranean Gull rings to view, so it was good to see so many colour-ringed Pale-bellied Brent Geese last Friday at Foryd Bay.
  In a group of around 100, at least 6 had colour rings but the wind made it hard to read them but we did get a couple and Graham McElwaine of the Irish Brent Goose Research Group sent me the details of those birds and remarked that they were the first colour-ringed birds reported from that site this winter and that "Records from Wales are like gold nuggets!"
  Both birds had red rings on both legs. The one with a B on the right and D on the left  had been ringed as age category 6 (hatched before previous calendar year but exact year unknown)  at a pitch and put course near Dublin 19/2/14. Subsequent sightings were 4/4/14 Dublin Bay, 16/11/14 Strangford Lough, 5/12/14 Menai off Caernarfon, 26/1/15 Dublin Bay and 4/1/15 Killough Bay, N. Ire.
  The other bird, K on right leg and X on the left, was ringed 1/3/14 near Dublin, also age 6 category and seen there to 14/4/14, then 17/10/14 and 31/10/14 Strangford Lough. 
  So far the Group have ringed 4,500 -5,000 geese. Sightings of colour-ringed birds can be sent direct to
  Before we left we saw a noisy Green Sandpiper at the pool behind the hide.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Point Lynas Seabird Passage 21/11/15

A classic seawatch at Point Lynas this morning, with overnight NNW gales decreasing at dawn, large numbers of seabirds were blown close inshore from Liverpool Bay. Huge numbers of birds were passing from dawn, within 50m of the point from first light. As the first birds I saw was a flock of three Great Skuas, I knew it was looking good. I didn't have time to take my eyes from my binoculars or set my scope up for 15 minutes, as I tried to estimate the numbers, or find the scarcities! As the light increased birds moved further out and the numbers went down but it was well worth staying for three and a half hours, it was actually quite sheltered on the east side of the point!

From 7.20 to 10.45 I recorded c. 2,800 Kittiwake, c.6000 Auks (95% Razorbill), 250 Gannet, 1 'blue' Fulmar (only my second record from Lynas, for probably 25 years), 3 Fulmar, 4 Leach's Petrel, 1 Storm Petrel, 3 Pomarine Skua, 9 Great Skua, 8 Little Gull, 122 Red-throated Diver (incl. flock of 16), 3 Great Northern Diver, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 70 Common Scoter, 1 Eider, 7 Goldeneye, 10 Pintail, 2 Shelduck, 3 Black Guillemot.

A great morning after a fairly disappointing autumn for seawatching, shame these weather conditions don't happen more often!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Unusual Redwing

Dodgy Video-grab of the bird
I saw this unusual Redwing yesterday in my lunchbreak on the shores of the Menai-Straight between the two viewpoint Car-Parks near Menai Bridge. It was amongst about 200 other Redwings. Its plumage was washed out slightly with Silvery-white wings and a greyish wash to its rump and tail and looked very pale in flight. It was more of a Silverwing than a Redwing!

RSPB Conwy sightings board

Signs of colder temperatures elsewhere in Europe come with a few more pochards (seven this morning), a couple of goldeneyes and at least three pintails on the Deep Lagoon. A couple of coal tits have been regularly on the feeders, and male brambling was seen there on Sunday 8th, but not since. A great crested grebe has been on the estuary all week, along with red-breasted mergansers, but the surprise of last weekend's Wetland Bird Survey was this smart whooper swan, which stayed just for a few hours on Monday afternoon. Thanks to Alison Cocks for the photograph.

For more of this week's bird news, read the Conwy reserve blog.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Freeze Frames tonight in Bangor

Brian Anderson is an excellent, well travelled,  wildlife photographer from the North West. Tonight we are lucky enough to have him coming to talk to us at Bangor Birdgroup (Brambell building, Bangor Uni) to talk about Wildlife of the Polar Regions. It should be a great talk. Doors open @ 7pm for a 7.30 KO. Hopefully see you there, all welcome.

Monday, 16 November 2015

North-East Wales bird report (2014)

The North East bird report (2014) is available from Conwy RSPB on the 20th November and RSPB Burton Mere on the 23rd November for £5.The book covers all species recorded throughout NE Wales and BirdTrack is fast becoming one of the best ways to get your reports noted. All but a handful of species can be seen down to at least 1 km level. Those that cannot are currently the species that are on the NRW ‘Sensitive Species’ list. They can be seen at the 10 km level. 

Please keep submitting bird records, from wherever you happen to be, via BirdTrack. If you use the BirdTrack App, please have a look at the article with advice about grid references in the App that is in the 2014 report. For more information, please visit An excellent and very valuable resource!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Porth Ysgaden - Caspian Gull?

Spent a cold but very enjoyable three and a half hours with Eddie aseawatching at Porth Ysgaden this morning. Highlights were  9 Great Northern, 8 Manxies, a distant skua, possibly Pom, 4 Pale bellied Brents,  sanderling , Golden plover, 11 Med Gull and lots of Auks kits and fulmar . Best bird was a large gull that passed right in front of us which immediately struck me as something odd. A large pale headed gangly gull  in second yr plumage.The  mantle and scaps were grey and the wings were stripy with an obvious band of  dark secondaries. It was oddly pale for  a Herring Gull and reminded me of those pale frosty juv Greater Black Backs, but the structure was all wrong. The head was small and tapered and pale making the dark eye and a few smudges behind it stand out.  Only when I noticed the huge long bill did the penny drop! By this stage the gull had passed us and was going out of sight the other side of the wall there. After getting my camera out of the rucksack and eventually out of its case I ran round after it into the wind and got a few poor shots as it hugged the coast heading west. It was all over in a matter of seconds.
I'm cautiously sure it is Caspian Gull but admit to not being a guller by any means. I usually identify my large gulls according to which country I'm in! Anyway I'd be interested in any comments anyone may have on these (really bad) pictures. All cropped but otherwise not mucked about with at all.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Greenland in Bangor!

Huw Thomas is giving us a talk about his trips to Greenland and helping out with work on the Greenland White-fronted Goose. It should be a very interesting talk as not many people go to Greenland! Hopefully see you there tomorrow, Wednesday,  at Bangor Bird-group, Deiniol road Bangor, doors open 7 for a 7.30 KO. All welcome :-)

North-Wales bird news

Well the UK Yellow browed Warbler influx seems to have been followed up by a Firecrest influx. This is one of the birds David Wright found by the toilet blocks at Llaneilian on Saturday. When me and Tony went there on Sunday we had at least 4 birds in that area, mega :-) David had at least 2 there still today and a Bonxie off Lynas. David has also been getting over 50,000 starlings flying over Bodafon Mountain in the morning, coming in from the NW. Does anyone know where they are roosting? Martin had a nice Brambling in his Cemaes Garden at the weekend.
Today there was a Slavonian Grebe off Porthmadog cob, I think Norman needs to pull his finger out and find one or 4 at Beddmanarch Bay within the next week ;-) There are plenty of Brents building up there at the moment and usually a Med Gull or two.
John W had a Yellow Browed Warbler in a hedge at the back of Halen Mon by Anglesey Sea Zoo today. On the 7th there were 2 Snowbs at the west end of Pensarn beach and 2 Surf Scoters off Llandulas. Gareth H informed me of a Long eared Owl and 2 Barn Owls at The Castaways by Rhuddgaer near Dwyran on the 8th and 9th Nov, the LEO a very rare sighting on Anglesey, especially alive and not an A55 casualty.
Any photographers out there who need good photos of Scaup, there's a very approachable bird at Eirias Park boating lake in Colwyn bay. I'm sure it's worth a look if you're passing.

Friday, 6 November 2015

RSPB Conwy sightings board

In a week that several places in North Wales had multiple firecrests, the reserve took its share with at least five at one time (on Saturday 31st). There were still two this morning (Friday 6th), so who knows how many have passed through? Some may stay for the winter, as RSPB Conwy is a regular wintering site. Thanks to Henry Cook for the photo of one he found near Carneddau Hide.

Read more on the Conwy reserve blog.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Late Swallow

Steve Roberts had a late Swallow in Bull bay today. Has anyone else had any late birds recently?

Monday, 2 November 2015


The Scaup at Colwyn Bay last Friday was somewhat easier to find than Conwy's Firecrests!

Early yesterday morning there were 7 Slavonian Grebes quite close in at Llanfairfechan and today, on my way back to Ceredigion, there were 3 at Harlech.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Don't miss the Urban Birder as he talks about Britain's National Bird in Bangor

Just a reminder. The Urban Birder David Lindo is coming to give a talk to us at Bangor Birdgroup, in the Brambell building this Wednesday the 4th November, doors open 7pm for a 7.30 KO.
Free to members, £2 to non-members, hopefully see you there :-)

North Wales Update

After an amazing nocturnal Thrush passage last night birds were continually on the move still this morning and throughout the day. As I ate my breakfast in Cemaes, stood outside my front door hundreds of Starlings were moving west with a few assorted thrushes with them, then 18 Skylarks went west, and so did I to Wylfa head car park. Amongst the migrants there included about 15 Brambling with the Chaffinches, 5 Reed Buntings, a Chiffchaff and a pair of Crossbills including a cracking red male. Tony White has 2 SE Owls at Valley Wetlands yesterday and one today and Ken has had a few recently on the Range. Tony also had a late Whinchat at Hen Borth today.
Reg did well today as he was out all day working Wylfa to Carmel head. His totals were 2 Lap Bunts, 20 Brambling, 3 Woodcock, Black Guilli, Goosander, Whinchat, Hooded Crow, 6 Crossbill, 420 Skylarks, 11,000 Starlings, 535 Chaffinches, a Chiffchaff and 2 Merlin.
Martin had a Firecrest at HHBWCP this morning and Andy had one at Soldier's Point yesterday plus a YB Warbler in the HHBWCP. Twite was reported from Point Lynas today. Other reports from Birdguides included GG Shrike east of Denbigh. Lap Bunt over the Orme plus 5 Firecrests (5 were at Conwy RSPB yesterday), there has been a big influx over the last week. Hawfinch and Woodlark were two good birds, which flew over the Great Orme today, as did a Richards Pipit yesterday. One record I found particularly unusual and interesting was that of a Cetti's Warbler heard singing in a garden below the cemetery on the great Orme on the 29th October. Things really are on the move!