Saturday, 9 September 2017

Seawatching at Bull Bay today

Every birder has their favorite Sea-watching spot for various reasons. Mine is Bull bay headland. Probably because it's near to Cemaes and only requires a short walk from the car parking area and more importantly some of the birds come very close. This means even if you don't see anything that unusual you can still get some nice close photos of Gannets and Kittiwakes flying by at close quarters. There is also a "Rock-chair" at the end of the headland that I find very handy to lean back on as I sit down sea-watching. I have self-diagnosed myself with attention deficit syndrome so if the passage is slow I can get bored quite easily. Also the fact that the windy weather tends to be the best conditions for sea-watching, as some-what of a Wind-a-phobe, I suppose it's amazing I go sea-watching at all. However, when there's a good passage, Sea-watching can be hard to beat as it's really enjoyable and quite rewarding. This morning was one of those days. I will list the highlights now of what I saw today between 8.45 and 12 noon,  followed by a selection of photos of today's sightings. 
Leach's Storm Petrel 4 (2 were quite close), Balearic Shearwater 1, Little gull 2 (1 ad, 1 1 juv), Arctic Skua 5, Risso's Dolphin 2, Porpoise 8 sightings, Grey Seal 1, Grey Heron 1, Kittiwake c.2K, Gannet 300, Manx Shearwater 100, Fulmar 2, Painted Lady plus a Kingfisher as I got in my car.

Gannets pass very close

Juvenile Kittiwakes are very striking

Point Lynas visible to the East

Leach's Petrel

Leach's Petrel

Leach's Petrel

Leach's Petrel

It's a great spot for Harbour Porpoise

Harbour Porpoise

Atlantic Grey Seal

Arctic Skua

Arctic Skua

Juv Little Gull and 2 Kittiwakes

Juv Little Gull and Kittiwake

Little Gull and Kittiwakes

Manx Shearwater

Balearic Shearwater, Manxie and BHG.

Balearic Shearwater and Manxie 

Balearic Shearwater

Balearic Shearwater

Adult Gannet

Juvenile Gannet

Adult Gannet

Distant Leach's Petrel

Distant Leach's Petrel

Common Guillimot

Sandwich Tern

Gannet and Leach's Petrel

Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Anglesey Skerries

I was lucky enough to get out to the Skerries last week, one night after work. We usually stop off first at Middle Mouse to see the Guillimot Colony. As it is coming to the end of the season there were just a few chicks visible and I couldn't find a single Razorbill, which are normally present in small numbers. There were good numbers of Manx Shearwaters on the crossing to The Skerries and even a few flocks of Common Scoters passing by. The Skerries is a fabulous place, with 2000+ pairs of Arctic terns. Although numbers were a little down this year they have still had a good breeding season with lots of chicks around. There are also 2-300+ pairs of Puffins, with dozens milling over our heads as we left this small Archipelago. Atlantic Grey Seals were showing well and we also had a few Porpoises on the crossing over there. It was a great evening and thanks to Warden Will et al for permitting us onto the island under his supervision.

Interesting head pattern on this Arctic Tern

North Wales Little Terns

The North Wales Little Tern Population has had a successful breeding season at Gronnant , east of Rhyl. After a potentially problematic start due to some high spring tides the population ended up doing very well due to swift action from the wardens and the birds re-laying. 
There were 161 pairs, 289 nests in total, 640+ eggs but 250+ chicks with a maximum count of 480 birds on the 4th July! I went a few weeks back and there was still a lot of activity. There should still be some birds around but I would highly recommend putting it in your diary for a trip there next year in June/July.


Spot the chick

Sightings board

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Cycling for Curlews

Hi everyone. Writing this whilst looking south to Bardsey’s Lighthouse, and with autumn migration feeling like it’s certainly cranking up a gear: hundreds of Swallows on the move with Swifts and martins, fresh juvenile Willow Warblers and Sedge Warblers flitting around the bracken, waders filtering through in steady numbers…shouldn’t be long before the jobs garden welcomes back its obligatory fest of hippolais warblers!

As some of you may have seen, this autumn I am planning on cycling back to university in Falmouth from the tip of the Llyn - some 700km. My primary goal - besides actually pulling it off - is trying to raise awareness of the plight of Curlews.

Birders in Wales more so than most should be aware of the catastrophic decline in breeding Curlews we’ve witnessed since 1990. The estimate is an 81% decrease in the breeding population in Wales from 1993 to 2006. This situation is mirrored across the UK, Ireland and further afield, with various factors mused as causal agents.

It seems, though, that the exact reasons behind the decline aren’t entirely clear as yet, and so organisations such as the BTO, Birdwatch Ireland and the RSPB have launched various conservation initiatives and campaigns to increase the monitoring work focussed on finding out what can be done to halt their disappearance.

I’ve chosen to support the BTO’s ‘Curlew Appeal’ for my cycle ride, and am trying to raise as much money as possible through a JustGiving page. I’d really appreciate any donations that can be spared, and if you fancy joining me for a stretch of the cycle, just get in touch!

Good birding! 

(Bardsey) Ben 

A link to my JustGiving page: the Curlew Cycle

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Nightjars at Llyn Bodgynydd

Geoff Gibbs from the NWWT has been up to Llyn Bodgynydd in the Gwydyr Forest above the Ugly house twice recently and only briefly heard the Nightjars churring. He would be interested to know if anyone else has had much luck with them this year? On a similar note I would be interested to know if anyone has had Woodcock or Snipe displaying up there in the last year or two? Please let me know and I will pass on the news to Geoff, thanks.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Anglesey Shrike and other news

Pete Verity's photo of his Rhos Goch Turtle Dove. A cracking addition to this chaps back garden list. Check out
 his professional photography FB page (including licenced Drone shots - FB Pete Verity Photography.

Directions to the Male Red Backed Shrike seen on the evening of 27/5/17.  Take the minor road from
the church at Llanfwrog SW to the Beach where the arrow is. The bird was just inland from the outfow pipe
 where X marks the spot. Mark Sutton's Purple Patch continues!

After ringing 250+ Woodcock in North Wales, Chris Bridge has come up trumps
 with a bird recently recorded / returned from Russia!

News of the day is Mark Sutton's purple patch continues as he had a male Red Backed Shrike on the NE shore of Beddmanarch bay near Llanfwrog / Llanfachraeth. See map above as the weather this evening isn't much cop so hopefully it will still be in the area tomorrow. Broad billed Sand, Red footed Falcon, Bee-eater, Spoonbill, Quail and now Red backed Shrike, all on his Inland Sea to Cemlyn patch this spring. Whatever next ?
 (White winged lark please Mark if you're taking requests  ;-)  )
There was also a Little Stint in the flooded field by the west car park at Cemlyn today.
A Great White Egret on the deck at South Stack was somewhat unexpected yesterday as was an adult White tailed Eagle over Dylans in Morfa Bwchan ! (Who had that?)
Also a probable Grey Phalarope was heard calling in flight over Cemlyn at night by the warden . David Wright.
On the 25th I had a pair of Whinchat in the paddocks by the shop at South Stack, plus lots of the Endemic South Stack Spatulate fleawort and Small pearl bordered fritilaries in the SW corner of the reserve on the coastal path. The Spotted Rockrose should be showing now / soon.
Also on the 25th, a Crag Martin was seen over the Dam at Llyn Vyrnwy briefly.
As well as Pete Verity's Rhos Goch Turtle dove, another one plus an Osprey was seen over the Great Orme on the 25th.
The Spoonbill was on the SW corner of the Inland Sea from the 18th - 24th May at least.
On the ringing front, North Wales wood-cocker Chris Bridge came up trumps with a bird recorded from North Wales returning to Russia! (see map above).
Also I noticed a Dipper in Llangefni had a ring on it a few weeks ago. Local Dipper ringers Rob and Chris B hadn't ringed it there, so where was it from?  Local BTO head honcho Kelvin got his nets out and managed to catch it yesterday. Funnily enough it turned out to be a bird he himself had ringed in the nest as a chick, 1 of a brood of 5, south of Caernarfon and Pen-y-groes between Bryncir and Pantglas on the 14th April 2012.
Whoever said ringing is obsolete needs to think again.....