Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Dunsop bridge and Abbeystead..

Hen Harrier - Male

I just never stop birding and yearlisting.. On Sunday 25th April {just gone}, it was our RSPB Southport group field trip to Dunsop bridge.. If your wondering, I came home this weekend especially for this trip..

Anyway, myself and my dad were up at 7am and all raring to go for a day's birding up in the Trough of Bowland.. I really didn't want to get up this morning as my bed was so warm and comfy...but... as always, if I didn't go, I would most probably have missed something.. At 8:20am; Chris Bridge, Martin bridge, Mike Preston and Ted set off from our house in Ormskirk and headed for a full day out in the Trough..

Dipper nest

After just over an hour's drive, we were greeted by a few folk in the car-park who were joining us today.. By the time it was 10am, the group head count was 22.. I had my work cut out today I can tell you.. This particular walk was up into the valley where the pair of Eagle owls bred last year.. Hopefully we would see them..

Just as we began the walk and just before an open field, I spotted a flash of Black and white.. This was a nice surprise as I knew straight away what it was, I had found a single Male Pied flycatcher sat on the side of a dead Oak tree.. Good views were had and after everyone in the group had seen it, I set the scope up to get a shot, any ideas what happened next? Yup the bird flew off, over the river and deep into a sessile oak woodland.. Nice!!
Further on up the valley, a few Swallows flew through heading towards the car-park and Willow warblers sang throughout.. A Redstart sang from a small wooded area but after a thorough search, the bird never showed.. One or two Dippers on the river and a Grey wagtail flew over.. On the telegraph wires, several Tree pipits sang and good views were had of these..

Eagle owl watchers..

After 3 miles or so we reached the area where the Eagle owls had bred last year, but to everyone's dissapointment, they weren't there!!?? Hmmm... they had most probably moved and bred further up the valley.. {Remember those words}. A group of 5 birders were there before us and they too, knew no more than us... A well deserved lunch break was enjoyed by all and soon after, I picked out a Male Hen harrier in a nearby gulley which showed well for about 20 minutes.. Great stuff!! A single Peregrine falcon circled high up and was lost to view..

Time to head on down now and a nice surprise came in the form of a flock of 19 Lesser repolls that flew over us and headed up the valley following the line of conifers.. Did it hold any Mealy's? Who knows? Remember I said the words: ''They have probably moved further up the valley to breed'' Well, on our way down to the car-park, a couple of birders stopped us and asked if we had seen the Eagle owls, the answer was no ofcourse. They then went onto tell me that they had moved further on up the valley about 1/2 mile from where they nested last year!!!!!!!!!!!! Grrrrr, I couldn't believe what they had just told me,, absolutely bluddy typical... Oh well, I'll just have to come back in a couple of weeks time to see them...

Golden plover

Male Dotterel

Back in the car-park, some of the group headed on home and a few of us headed over to have a look for the Male Dotterel that was in a field on Abbeystead lane with 50 Golden plovers.. This bird we saw and enjoyed great views.. Tally for the day:- 60!

Male Dotterel

Species list:

Grey heron, Mallard, Goosander, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine falcon, Red grouse, Pheasant, Oystercatcher, Dotterel, Golden plover, Lapwing, Curlew, Snipe, B.H.gull, H.Gull,, L.B.B.Gull, Feral-pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collard dove, Great-spotted woodpecker, Skylark, Sand martin, Swallow, Meadow pipit, Tree pipit, Pied wagtail, Grey wagtail, Wren, Dipper, Dunnock, Robin, Redstart, Stonechat, Mistle thrush, Blackbird, Blackcap, Willow warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Pied flycatcher, Blue tit, Great tit, Coal tit, Long-tailed tit, Nuthatch, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion crow, Raven, Starling, House sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Lesser redpoll, Siskin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch. 60!

One hell of a morning..

Lesser whitethroat

Studying at Bangor university was a very good choice of mine and I would recommend it to anyone if thinking of somewhere to study.. I have settled in extremely well.. Been lucky enough to meet all the birders in North wales and am now great friends with all.. Met some life-long friends like Alex, conquered my once 'fear of trains'' and now know the best sites in North wales for most species.. Most of all, I am now in-undated with texts if a rarity turns up somewhere, or any scarcities that are around.. What I am about to tell you is just what I am talking about..

Many of you have probably visited the Great orme in Llandudno for various reasons.. In a birder's eye, it is a fantastic place for birding, especially in the spring.. So, on Thursday 22nd April a Corncrake was found on the orme by the limestone pavement by Marc buzzard - cracking birder! I couldn't believe it when I got at least 5 texts from several people telling me that there was a Corncrake on the bluddy orme.. I was still in bed at this point.. Unfortunately I was unable to twitch this bird as I had 3 lectures and a field trip in the afternoon that was essential.. Funnily enough the bird was only seen during a few hours of the morning.. I am pretty sure that I would have connected with the bird if I had have twitched it in the morning, oh well.. The Isle of Mull for me in June...

After realising that there could be anything up there, whether it be grounded migrants or 'vis-mig', this was too much to miss..

Early the next day on the morning of Friday 23rd, I was up at 4:45am and on the 5:40am train from Bangor to Llandudno junction, a quick change of trains and I arrived at Llandudno at 6:20am.. A brisk powerwalk through Llandudno, onto the promenade, up the side of the orme and I was on top near the cemetery for 6:50am.. Now, what have we here.... There were birds more or less in every direction....

Lesser whitethroat

Birds encountered during the morning - 6:50am - 9:00am..

10 Fulmar {on the cliffs}
1 Buzzard {over high north}
5 Sandwich terns {offshore}
1 Swift {heading towards Cowny}
3 Sand martin {high over}
15+ Swallow {high over}
5 House martin {high over}
60+ Meadow pipit {passing through all the time}
1 Tree pipit {over}
40+ Wheatear {grounded migrants}
1 Chiffchaff {grounded migrant}
1 Chough {flew through}
20+ Lesser redpoll {high over}
5 Siskin {high over}
1 Golden plover {passing through on limestone pavement}

During the 2 hours and 10 minutes that I was up on the Orme I had 2 yearticks which were Swift and Tree pipit.. A fantastic morning's birding if you ask me.. Oh, and no Corncrake by the way... Must have moved on overnight...

Seeing as though I had had a great morning's birding on the Great orme, I headed on down and called in at Conwy RSPB...

Lesser whitethroat

Birds seen here included:

2 Common sandpipers,
30+ White wagtail,
1 Yellow wagtail, {yeartick}
2 Lesser whitethroat, {yeartick}
1 Common whitethroat, {yeartick}
5 Sedge warbler, {yeartick}
3 Reed warbler, {yeartick}

Sedge warbler

2 yearticks on the Great orme and 5 yearticks at Conwy RSPB, that was enough for me as at this point I was flagging as I had been up since 4:45am.. Yearlist total - 189!!

The essential field trip that I mentioned was a walk around Newborough forest on Anglesey, which revealed another yeartick. A Grasshopper warbler was reeling it's head off near a dune slack... Brief views... Yearlist 190!!! What a day!!!!

Evening yearticking at Conwy..

Female Wheatear

This is more like it.. The spring migrants are back 'en masse'.. Still loads more to come in though.
Monday 19th April was the first time in 10 days in that I had been out birding properly.. After an extremely hectic day at uni, I hopped on an evening train at Bangor and had a few hours of productive birding at Conwy RSPB..

Over the past few days there had been a Lesser whitethroat and a Yellow wagtail on the reserve so these were the targets for the night.. A phonecall from Alex revealed him to have just arrived at Conwy and 5 minutes later and I was in the car with him as he had picked me up from Llandudno station - handy!

Male Wheatear

Once through the visitor centre, the birding began.. Sand martins galore and 2 House martins flitted around {both yearticks}, Lots of Swallows and White wagtails totalling at least 80+ {yeartick} and about 7 Wheatears along the coastal path that runs around the perimeter of the reserve.. 4 Yearticks in less than 20 minutes - great stuff!! Met up with Rob sandham at the Lesthroat site and a good listen and scan of the scrub for half an hour, revealed no Lesser whitethroat.. Oh well, maybe next week?? No Yellow wagtail either so we called it a night..

A few Blackcaps, Willow warblers, Chiffchaffs and a Common sandpiper called around the reserve..

White wagtail

Not a bad few hours birding with 4 yearticks added to the 2010 yearlist...

Whimbrels at Wigg...


I do hope you all enjoyed the Catalunya trip report and the pictures... Whilst in Spain it was non-stop digiscoping for me as Alex and Menzie will know, over 900 pictures were taken, with only 350 decent ones.. Moving on now and back in sunny Britain..

Once we landed in Liverpool on 9th April, I didn't want to see another bird for at least a week, never mind have my bins around my neck, but.. as always this was to much of a challenge... I did however last until 17th April when I ventured out for a light spot birding..

On the evening of 17th April, myself, Steve and Rachel had evening's mist-netting session at 'Wigg' near Paenmenmawr in North wales. On arrival and once stepping out of the truck, a few Whimbrels could be heard whistling out over the Menai straits.. The words - ''Would we catch one of those tonight'' went through my head... A quick scan over the pool was in order to see if there was anything around the pools, but only the odd Redshank and Canada goose were evident.. After the decision was made on where to set the nets, half an hour or so later and all were set ready..

We did however, have a 3 and 1/2 bour wait until high tide.. This was no big deal as the stars were out 'en masse' tonight, clear skies and not a breath on wind! When the tide came in, we soon realised that there were very few birds present, the odd Curlew and Redshank called but that was about it.. What would we catch?

During the night we managed to catch:

12 Curlew {Ringed 10}
8 Redshank {Ringed 4}
2 Whimbrel {Ringed 1}


Oh yes... you have read that right indeed, we did in fact catch 2 Whimbrel within 15 minutes of each other.. You can imagine what was going through my kind when we caught the first one: ''I hope they have both ringed one'' Once back at the truck, Steve passed me the Whimbrel in the sack and at that point I knew it was mine to ring!! The second bird was caught 15 minutes later and was ringed by Rachel...

An extremely long night as we finished at 2:30am...

Monday, 26 April 2010

Penduline tit and Nightingale...

Penduline tit

Penduline tit



I hope you all enjoyed scrolling through that report and the pictures, I certainly did.. More tomorrow on ringing and birding back in North Wales...

Yellow wagtail ssp, Subalpine warbler and Corn bunting...

Corn bunting

{5} Male Subalpine warbler

Yellow wagtail ssp...{5} - {This bird was a very interesting bird as it had moulted 2 of it's Tertials.. {not visible} As well as 3/4 Greater coverts and about 4 Median coverts.. Hmmmmm. Cracking bird in the hand though!

What a colour!!!


Wood warbler...

Wood warbler

Wood warbler

Wood warbler

Great reed warbler...

Great reed warbler in my hand...

Great reed warbler again...

Great reed warbler, once more...

Look at the size of the beak

Just incase you are wondering I am still in Spain at this point.....

More ringing pictures from Catalunya...

Aquatic warbler

Aquatic warbler

Aquatic warbler

Aquatic warbler

Right wing of a Male Blackcap - Age 5

{5} Blackcap - Contrast between Primary coverts and Greater coverts as well as Alula..

More clear here - Still in Post-juvenile plumage - This bird hasn't moulted it's Alula...

Scops owl

Scops owl

In the process of ageing the Scops owl

What a bird!!!!!!

Bird ringing whilst in Catalunya...

Bluethroat - Male

Whilst myself and Alex were in Spain I was lucky enough to help out with 2 morning ringing session's with Menzie's Boss... This took place in the last few days of my stay..

Redstart - Male

Bluethroat - Female

Reed warbler

During both mornings I witnessed ringing in a whole new world... This was ofcourse seeing a different array of birds in the hand - Spanish birds in the hand! I was lucky enough to see the beauty of some extra special birds in the hand and a few of them I was able to ring.....

Birds ringed by myself during both mornings....

10 Blackcap, 7 Willow warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Wood warbler, 2 Sedge warbler, 2 Reed warbler, 1 Nightingale, 2 Redstart, 5 Sand martin and 1 Bluethroat...

A total of 35 birds were ringed by myself of 11 species - absolutely fantastic ringing!!

There were also other birds caught within my 2 mornings which included: Corn bunting and Blue-headed wagtail..

Throughout the week I also had in the hand: Scops owl, Aquatic warbler, Great-reed warbler, Subalpine warbler and Cetti's warbler.... The first 3 species ofcourse were the best..

More pictures on the next post....

More pictures from Catalunya...

Bridge, Menzie and Jones...
Eagle owl and Chick


Southern Grey Shrike

Subalpine warbler

Greater flamingo

Caspian terns - 8 out of 12 seen...

Slender-billed gulls....

Collard pratincole - 1 seen throughout the trip!

Rock sparrow

Female Little crake

Crested tit

Wood sandpiper

Blue-headed wagtail - {interbreed with iberiae}