Saturday, 27 March 2010

Lesser and Greater Scaup at Cosmeston...

Great-crested grebe

I presume most of you and hopefully all of you that either follow, or read my blog know that I am going for a yearlist of 300 this year in Britain!! This hopefully will be achieved.. Don't forget to take into account that I 'do not' drive and all birds have been seen via car, train, bus, taxi or walking.. The car section relates to someone else driving.. a bit of obvious really!!

Anyway, enough of my ranting on.. You'll all know with a target like that I can't afford to miss out on a rarity, so that is exactly what I did on the 2oth March..

There has been a Drake Lesser Scaup down in Glamorgan at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, just south of Penarth near Cardiff.. The bird has been present for the last 2 winters and it was still there when I had the day off.. So... the night before I set about planning the trip down there.. An early start, 2 trains there and 2 trains back.. 2 mile walk from Penarth - easy!

{Lesser Scaup}

{Greater Scaup}
- Woke up early on the saturday morning at 4am,
- Left Bangor at 4:57 am
- Arrived at Cardiff central at 9:22
- Left Cardiff central at 9:31
- Arrived at Penarth at 9:46

Fantastic train journey... I then had to walk just under 2 miles to Cosmeston Lakes Country Park which took me 15 minutes or so from Penarth... at 10:20am I was watching the Drake Lesser scaup alongside a Drake Greater Scaup.. Bingo and job done!!!! Snap snap and about 100 pictures taken of which half a dozen were mega!! I was back in Bangor that night at 8pm... Cracking day!!!

{Lesser Scaup}

{Lesser Scaup - right hand bird + Greater Scaup - Left hand bird}

{Lesser Scaup}

{Lesser Scaup}

Other birds seen included: 2 Green woodpeckers and 6 Chiffchaffs.. A mega day with very little hassle..

Below are the pictures to prove it!! Cheers

South Stack

Since seeing the Bean geese on Plex moss on 27th February, my birding began to slow to a halt..

Lectures from 9am - 5pm more or less 5 days a week, the weekend was my only time for birding, unless I had time off during the week. So.. early morning on the 17th March, I headed for Anglesey, in particular, South Stack RSPB! The weather in Bangor was glorious sunshine that morning around 8am, however on arrival at Holyhead, the rain began to drop from the skies and the sea fog drifted in! Great, just what I wanted!!
As with all birding trips, I set myself some target species to try and pin down. For this particular trip they included:- Black-throated diver, Ruddy duck, Razorbill, Puffin, Blackcap, Wheatear, Barn owl and Sand martin.. Now, considering the weather.......guess how many of those 8 species I saw?? Unbelievably I only managed to see one of them which turned out to be a Razorbill!! I couldn't believe it! A soddin Razorbill for about 15 miles walking, why do I do it?!!

Single Razorbill {only one seen}

That day I walked about 15-20 miles....

- Train from Bangor - Holyhead
- Walked from Holyhead train station - Soldier's point + Breakwater
- Breakwater - South Stack RSPB
- South Stack RSPB - Holyhead train station
- Train from Holyhead - Valley
- Valley - Llyn penrhyn
- Llyn penrhyn - Valley
- Valley - Bangor

{Guillemots were back on the cliff faces}

Lots of Guillemots were seen as well as a few of the 'Bridled' variety. Several Fulmars and Kittwakes buzzed around in the high winds, a few Choughs and the odd Raven and that was about it really, oh...and one hell of a lot of fog!!!!!!

I can tell you this for sure that, whenever I go out birding for a day, it always involves a train and several miles walking in this case, a bit too far just for a Rzorbill.. If I didn't go I could have missed something..

I did manage to take some pics of some birds along the way.. Cheers

Friday, 26 March 2010

Bean geese on Plex moss

At last I have found the time to update the blog with a few of my recent birding trips.. The other week I promised to post my pictures of the Bean geese which I took on Plex moss, well.. after more than a week and a few days, here they are....

These Bean geese were photographed on Saturday 27th February 2010 on Plex moss.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Yearlist 2010 update ...

Just thought I would do another update on my yearlist just to keep you all interested...

1. Red-throated diver, 2. Great-northern diver, 3. Slavonian grebe, 4. Black-necked grebe, 5 Little grebe, 6. Great-crested grebe, 7. Red-necked grebe, 8. Fulmar, 9. Gannet, 10. Cormorant, 11. Shag, 12. Bittern, 13. Little egret, 14. Spoonbill, 15. Grey heron, 16. Mute swan, 17. Whooper swan, 18. Bewick's swan, 19. White-fronted goose, 20. Pink-footed goose, 21. Bean goose, 22. Greylag goose, 23. Canada goose, 24. Barnacle goose, 25. Snwo goose, 26. Brent goose, 27. Shelduck, 28. Mallard, 29. Gadwall, 30. Pintail.

31. Shoveler, 32. Wigeon, 33. American wigeon, 34. Teal, 35. Green-winged teal, 36. Pochard, 37. Scaup, 38. Tufted duck, 39. Ring-necked duck, 40. Eider, 41. Common scoter, 42. Velvet scoter, 43. Surf scoter, 44. Long-tailed duck, 45. Goldeneye, 46. Smew, 47. Goosander, 48. Red-breasted merganser, 49. Red kite, 50. Black kite, 51. Hen harrier, 52. Buzzard, 53. Sparrowhawk, 54. Goshawk, 55. Kestrel, 56. Peregrine falcon, 57. Merlin, 58. Red grouse, 59. Grey partridge, 60. Red-legged partidge.

61. Pheasant, 62. Water rail, 63. Moorhen, 64. Coot, 65. Oystercatcher, 66. Avocet, 67. Ringed plover, 68. Grey plover, 69. Golden plover, 70. Lapwing, 71. Knot, 72. Sanderling, 73. Purple sandpiper, 74. Turnstone, 75. Dunlin, 76. Common sandpiper, 77. Redshank, 78 Greenshank, 79. Black-tailed godwit, 80. Bar-tailed godwit, 81. Curlew, 82. Woodcock, 83. Snipe, 84. Jack snipe, 85. Ruff, 86. Black-headed gull, 87. Bonaparte's gull, 88. Common gull, 89. Ring-billed gull, 90. Mediterranean gull.

91. Herring gull, 92. Lesser-Black-Backed gull, 93. Greater-Black-Backed gull, 94. Kittiwake, 95. Sandwich tern, 96. Forster's tern, 97. Black guillemot, 98. Guillemot, 99. Feral-pigeon, 100. Stock dove, 101. Woodpigeon, 102. Collard dove, 103. Tawny owl, 104. Short-eared owl, 105. Long-eared owl, 106. Little owl, 107. Kingfisher, 108. Great-spotted woodpecker, 109. Green woodpecker, 110. Skylark, 111. Woodlark, 112. Shorelark, 113. Rock pipit, 114. Meadow pipit, 115. Pied wagtail, 116. Grey wagtail, 117. Wren, 118. Dipper, 119. Dunnock, 120. Robin.

121. Black redstart, 122. Stonechat, 123. Song thrush, 124. Mistle thrush, 125. Redwing, 126. Fieldfare, 127. Blackbird, 128. Black-throated thrush, 129. Goldcrest, 130. Firecrest, 131. Chiffchaff, 132. Blue tit, 133. Great tit, 134. Coal tit, 135. Marsh tit, 136. Willow tit, 137. Long-tailed tit, 138. Bearded tit, 139. Nuthatch, 140. Treecreeper, 141. Great grey shrike, 142. Magpie, 143. Jay, 144. Jackdaw, 145. Chough, 146. Rook, 147. Carrion crow, 148. Hooded crow, 149. Raven, 150. Starling

151. Rose-coloured starling, 152. House sparrow, 153. Tree sparrow, 154. Chaffinch, 155. Brambling, 156. Linnet, 157. Twite, 158. Lesser redpoll, 159. Goldfinch, 160. Greenfinch, 161. Siskin, 162. Bullfinch, 163. Hawfinch, 164. Reed bunting, 165. Corn bunting, 166. Yellowhammer, 167. Snow bunting.

Total 167 in 75 days of 2010!!!



I finished January 2010 on a nice total of 147 species for the year, not bad considering the cold and awful weather..

With 147 species already under the belt including a few lifers and several British ticks, I had no idea what February would bring..

Surprisingly I got off to another good start..

February 2nd and I was birding back home with the other 2 bridges. My grandad and dad. The day was spent around Leighton moss and Kendal.. Birds seen that day included: 1 Bittern, 4 Snow geese, Green woodpecker, Marsh tit, Bearded tit, 3 Hawfinch and Rose-coloured starling - all of which were yearticks for me.. A Great day!!

Rose-coloured starling {Juvenile}


February 19th and I was back at uni, however this date I had free and so went twitching, big style!! There had been a Juvenile Black kite for some time now down at Gigrin farm in Powys.. That day I left Bangor at 5am and arrived at Gigrin farm around 12pm and 2 hours later I was the Black kite plus 200+ Red kites .. Arrived back in Bangor on Thursday morning at 2am and collapsed into bed!! More than 9 hours on trains for 2 hours watching the bird.. Mega!! Great yeartick and much-wanted british tick..

Black kite {Juvenile - left hand bird}

February 17th and 21st saw me at Abergele and Pensarn with good friends Jason, Bones and John looking for the Surf scoters. Highlights for these days were 2 Drake Long-tailed ducks and at least 25 Velvet scoters. Unbelievable birding if you ask me.. Plus 3 Hawfinch at Llanbedr-y-cennin and the 4 Snow buntings at Kinmel bay late afternoon..

February 22nd and I was at Colwyn bay once again. Another good friend of mine, Rob hughes had found a Red-necked grebe off Rainbow bridge and so a quick train journey and a little searching, revealed the grebe to be hanging out with a flock of Great crests although albeit distant. Nice!

February 27th was a great day as I had a week off uni due to reading week. A short drive onto Plex moss with dad saw us watching the 2 Tundra Bean geese mixed in with 300 or so Pink feet.. Mega!! Always nice to see these typical winter geese..
February 28th and I met up with Graham clarkson at Hesketh out marsh for a catch up and a walk around the new reserve on a guided walk. Birds seen included: Little owl, Bewick's swan, Tree sparrow and Avocet at Martin mere.. A good day!!

Thats about it really.. I managed to add about 12 yearticks that week and now I am on 167 for the year.. The target for this year is 300 plus without being able to drive!! At the rate I am going I should be able to reach my target!!

Cheers for now...

Monday, 15 March 2010

2 Firecrests at Porth Penrhyn - 167!!

Heard news this morning from RBA {Rare bird alert} that there was a Firecrest yesterday at Porth Penrhyn in Bangor!!

Urgh!! Mega!
So... Finished my lecture on Ecology and Evolution at 2pm, popped back up to my room, picked up bins and camera and headed on down to the small park at Porth penrhyn where the bird had been seen. By the entrance to the park, I heard a very high pitched cresty noise.. then... it popped out!! Bingo! Firecrest on the yearlist!! Nice bird!! 167 now!!

Watched this stunning little bird for a further 15 minutes and got 1 poor record shot of it.. You can at least make out that it is a Firecrest from the picture anyway.. I then lost it and on walking round the park, relocated it with another bird so now 2 Firecrests!! Mega!! Well worth the walk..

See picture attached..
Cheers for now....

American wigeon and Spoonbill...

American wigeon {left hand bird}

There is nothing better than birding back home on my local territory in Lancashire.. Fair enough, North wales has its sites and its birding, but birding on home ground always beckons..

As most of you know, I am doing a big yearlist this year with the target being 300 plus - hopefully. During last week, a few decent birds turned up back home which I wouldn't have minded getting on the yearlist.. So...... Myself and Alex set off on saturday morning {13th March} around 8am and headed for lancs..
Targets for today were:

- American Wigeon
- Long-billed dowitcher
- Spoonbill

First stop was Martin mere for the American wigeon. After a search around the area, it eventually flew in out of a ditch with 500 or so other Eurasion wigeon and landed on the pool viewed from Ron Barker hide and showed quite well.. Job done! Snap snap and moved on..

Next stop was for the Long-billed dowitcher at Old Hollows farm in Banks near Southport. Searched high and low amongst the pools but to no avail. The bird coincidently wasn't reported on saturday so it had probably moved on somewhere or was somewhere out there.. Oh well.. I am bound to pick one up sometime this year anyway..

Little owl on the old barn on the left hand side of the road driving towards Hesketh out marsh was nice... Just one yeartick so far..

No sign of the Bean geese out on Plex moss at 2pm. They were however seen later on in the afternoon on Plex moss, but I can assure you they were not there when we were there.. I had already seen these birds a week or so ago and knew exactly where to look.

That was Lancs done so we moved off and over to the Parkgate marsh where the Spoonbill was hiding out somewhere.. On arrival, a brisk wind was blowing.. Little egrets everywhere... Picked up some Cod and chips from the chippy and sat in the car and funnily enough, picked out the Spoonbill from the car.. The bird was quite distant but nice scope views were had..

Yearlist tally was 166 with American wigeon and Spoonbill new for the year.. Back in Bangor for a respectable time of 7pm..

Not a bad day really ...

Surfing to success!!!

I can imagine at this point, you are reading the title, thinking what on earth is this guy on about? Am I right.. Surfing to success, well.. I certainly did just that..

On the 8th March 2010, after leaving Ormskirk at 6am and arriving in Bangor at 11:30am, I had a text from my mate Alex who is also studying at Bangor.. The text read: ''Are you back in Bangor yet, I relocated the 3 Drake Surf scoters yesterday off Old colwyn from Rainbow bridge'' At this point I was green with jealousy, but not to worry.. After about, say... half an hour of reaching my room, I made a quick decision to go and chance it and have a look for them one more time! Seeing as though they were seen only yesterday, I saw no reason for them to disperse..

12:02 train from Bangor and off at Colwyn bay at 12:30. My phone then started to vibrate and it was Jason from back home! A great chap and cracking birder by the way, He had sent me a text saying that the birds had been seen just an hour ago... Shit!! Just under a 2 mile walk from the station to Rainbow I tanked it down to the site..

The trains along the north wales coast are extremely handy when it comes to birding and a quick twitch.. Anyway, eventually arrived along the promenade by this old chap... He carried a scope and bins, at last, someone who might know if they were still there after an hour had passed..... A very brief: ''Are they still there'' had a reply to: ''Back of the flock between the 6th and 7th turbine from the left, good luck'' At this point knowing they were still out there, the conversation lasted a few seconds and within 5 mintues I was once again scanning the sea intently for these bastard scoters.. {language error} This guy had said there was another birder looking at them, but on arrival not a single bluddy sole in sight!! Guh!!!!

Settled into position and scanned the sea surrounding the 6th and 7th turbine very.....very...... carefully!! The next thing I knew... my heart jumped into my mouth, adrenalin shot round my body and my eyes adjusted as in the scope I could see 2 WHITE SCOTERS!!! Ahahahahaha. I couldn't believe my eyes!! There in the centre of my scope underneath the 6th turbine from the left were 2 Drake Surf scoters faffling around at the back of the scoter flock... Absolutely fantastic!! Taking into account that this was my 8th attempt in trying to see these birds and at last, the prayers and patience had paid off!! There you have it, the miracle!! I watched these birds for about an hour. Great views were had, sat on the sea, wing-flapping and a flight view of one of the birds revealed the 3rd bird slightly closer in, although still about 1 and half miles out to sea.. A large white patch on the back of the neck, white patch on the bill, as well as orange and a black spot could be picked out too.. Fantastic!! Absolutely fantastic!! 8th attempt and job done!!!!! Common scoters were evident in their thousands and a few Velvet scoters were also seen.. A Fulmar drifted by...

Sadly, the birds: 3 DRAKE SURF SCOTERS were 1.5 miles out to sea and no pictures were taken.. But still, a fantastic twitch and this time it paid off big style!!

I have to say a huge thankyou to Jason for his upto date texts on these birds over the last few weeks ... Cheers mate.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Great Grey Shrike at Waddington fell...

The last day of my week's break, saw myself and my dad up at Waddington fell near Clitheroe for the Great Grey Shrike. The bird had been showing for the past few days just north of the Moorcock inn on neighbouring bushes and telephone wires. On arrival, we were greeted by a layby of birders looking up towards the top of the hill to our left. Sure enough, there was the Great Grey shrike sat on top of a hawthorn bush some 200 yards up the hill. However, the telephone wires where the bird had originally been reported for the last few days, was now occupied by a team of a clay-pigeon shooters. Now come on, what excitement is there in that? Seemingly the bird wasn't hanging round in that area as you can guess..

Watched the bird for half an hour or so as it made its way down the dry-stone wall and eventually came close-enough to get a record shot of the bird. A couple of flight views were nice showing the black and white patterns on the wings.. Something I had never seen before suddenly happened, the bird started to hover like a Kestrel and dropped down onto a conifer.. Stunning bird an a good yeartick.

Moved on to Stocks reservoir where we had distant views of Red grouse on the moors and a ringtail Hen harrier searched the nearby heather moorland. Nothing much else seen that day but 3 yearticks was pretty decent..
{Look at the top of the wall and that's where the bird was at first}

Back to uni tomorrow at 6am for a couple of weeks hard work and then off for easter.. Bring on the spring..

Next post is unbelievable, a miracle must have occured that day!!

Birding at the end of February...

Thought I would include a very obliging Robin at Marton mere

Busy busy busy....

Apologies for the lack of news on the birding and ringing front these last few weeks. I have been ridiculously busy at uni; writing essays and reports, lectures 9am - 5pm most days and lots of birding.. Whenever I seem to have time to update the blog, there is always a decent bird that turns up, or when I have day off, it is usually spent birding which means a full day out and yet again, no time to update the blog..

Anyway, enough of the ranting on ... Birding recently has been great and I have managed target some pretty decent winter birds these last few weeks. During the dates: February 27th - March 7th, I was at home back in Lancashire birding my local areas.. Due to Reading week at uni.. Having finished January 2010 with a yearlist 0f 147 or so, I mopped up the rest of the winter birds that were around in Lancs... which soon came thick and fast when I got out birding....

A trip Hesketh out marsh on one occasion meeting up with Graham Clarkson for a guided walk around the new reserve.. Decided to cycle this time and clocked up a nice 20 or so miles that day. {Green birding for ya} A single Bewick's swan mixed in with 70 or so Whoopers... Plus a nice Little owl.

Picked up the much-needed common mossland birds like Red-legged partridge, Yellowhammer and Corn bunting. .

A trip to Marton mere in Blackpool with good friend Craig Brookes revealed Long-eared owl and a gorgeous Female Brambling..

Willow tit at Moore Nature Reserve too but no Lesser peckers as of yet..

A quick twitch onto Plex moss saw me watching 2 Tundra Bean geese mixed in with 300 0r so Pink-footed geese.

I managed to pick up another 12 yearticks whilst I was at home - more than satisfying..

I bought a new memory card for the camera during that period and stupidly left the other one at home with all the pics on, so shall post the Bean geese shots on the blog on March 21st so keep an eye out for them nearer the time - stonking shots!