Monday, 22 December 2014

Cemlyn in December

Here's a selection of photos taken recently at Cemlyn. Apart from what's shown below there is a wintering Whimbrel at the West end usually around the Trwyn, but it can go to Tyn Llan beach or further down the coast. There has been two Greenshank, upto 4 Little Egrets, occasional Divers offshore plus other bits and bobs. Anything else David Wright?


Purple Sandpiper

Up-to 4 Twite are still on the ridge.

3 species


Still 3 species

1 Purp with the Turstones



A very confiding Purple Sandpiper

A dark hooded (well streaked) Common Gull

Tip of the Trwyn

8 Grey Plover, 8 Purple Sandpipers and a Dunlin

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Long tailed duck, Fagl Lane Quarry , Hope

After a tip off from a local birder I checked this out today. The juv long tailed duck was on the Hope side of the lake. Kingfisher and good numbers of goosanders also present.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Cemlyn Twite are from Gairloch near Ullapool

There have been upto 18 Twite recently, with 6 (and now 5) remaining loyal to the ridge. Last winters storms breached the ridge but spread the seeds of the Yellow horned Poppy over a larger area leading to a bumper crop of seeds. Despite feeding, they still seem to be prefering their natural food source. They are quite approachable and I managed a few photos of the ringed individual. Thanks to help from Dawn Balmer and Mark Grantham from the BTO, Mark has pinned it down to one of two birds. Both from this summer at Gairloch near Ullapool in Scotland. Can anyone age this bird for me? Steve Stansfield? Also Robert, can you comment on your findings of Twite on Fair Isle and North Ron please? Cheers Steve
ps. all photos are of the same bird after the first obvious photo of a bird with a ring (please note, the bird in flight, the ringed bird is the one on the deck, without a pink rump).

Gresford Flash Gulls

Here are a few pics from local birders Bryan Formstone and Hugh Linn. Firstly of the first winter Caspian gull.
Next a couple of the adult bird, which is almost certainly a yellow legged. However it had a small dark eye and primary 10 was very white. However overall shape and mantle colour would suggest yellow leg. This was a beast of a gull, huge bird. Without a wing tip shot I guess then we may not know for certain but there maybe others who can tell without.
Great to see a lot of north Wales birders chasing a rarity on our patch for a change!!

1st Winter Caspian Gull at Gresford Flash Wrexham - First for Wales.

Here's a few shots I got of the 1st winter bird at Wrexham yesterday. Thanks to Kev Smith et al for the heads up as I was on my way to Liverpool and in Abergele at the time of the call. There have been no accepted records of Caspian Gull in Wales yet so this should represent the first record for Wales.
After being informed about some dispute over the age of this bird I phoned my mate Dave Fairhurst in Suffolk. Both ex-Billinge YOC boys from St Helens we've been mates for years. He's an excellent Suffolk/Shetland birder and has a great knowledge of Caspian Gulls having spent way too much time in the Pig-fields of Suffolk over the years (watching gulls I hasten to add)!
He said it's a 1st winter as it has big black tertials with a thin white edge. 2nd winters have more white and less black, He said for first winters if you chop off its primaries and tail the biggest black bit is it's tertails. If it was a second winter there would be more white! The striking white pale head contrast with the rest of the body is a first winter thing. They are the easiest age of Caspian gulls to do. Also, the dense neck streaking / collar is the best feature for a first winter Caspian Gull.
Second winters would also probably have a pale eye by now. Second winters would also have a massive amount of white in the tertials, almost half dark half white. Herring gulls are more barred on Second winters. On the back of second winters the scaps are mostly grey with a few old retained blobby bits. Our bird is mottled! Basically second winter Caspian gulls are plain with a few spots. Also second winter birds are paler at the base of the bill, with that Glaucous gull like contrast.
The front end of our gull is classic Caspian. White contrasting head and neck with a long sloping forehead and long slender bill. A yellow legged gull would have a different shaped head and more streaking.
To summarise it's a first winter Caspian Gull, a first for Wales.
Thanks to the finder - who found it, was it Kev?
Thanks to Dave for his comments.
I have to make tea now so will spell-check later.
ps. By the way last weekend was the best weekend in Suffolk for Caspian Gulls, 16 birds in 4 days, so it's not surprising that they've finally reached us!

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat on Little Orme

After a great morning's birding which included 3 Surf Scoters, 2 Velvet Scoter and a Little Auk off Old Colwyn, followed by another Little Auk and 5 Purple Sands at Rhos Point, I received a text from Pete Alderson saying he had seen a Lesser Whitethroat on the Little Orme. Knowing that a December Lesser Whitethroat would be a good record and possibly an eastern type bird, I shot straight up. Half an hour later the bird appeared and immediately looked good as its back and nape was brownish. 
Here are some initial pics...... More research later but I suspect it's a Blythi type Siberian bird.

Friday, 5 December 2014

RSPB Conwy's sightings board

Still a couple of firecrests at Conwy, the Cetti's warbler probably still present (though not seen since Monday), several chiffchaffs - including one that has a tristis feel about it but is stubbornly refusing to call - and a claim of great white egret on Wednesday, but no subsequent reports.

More details on the reserve blog