Tuesday, 29 December 2015


So far this winter there have been fewer in Ceredigion than I can ever recall. The lakes around here at Trisant have had none (and that is exceptional) and other northern lakes have had very few sightings. Further south, numbers at Cors Caron have been low. Also, hardly any Goldeneyes have been seen.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Anglesey Whoopers

After the recent floods there have been upto 18 Whooper Swans at Tygai's Marsh (Malltraeth RSPB near Pentre Berw). There have been no sign of any near Llangwyllog / Tre-y-sgawen Hall this Winter. The recent post on Whoopers suggests there are only a few on the Glaslyn. Have numbers declined there over recent years? Has anyone seen any other flocks on Anglesey? Presumably with milder winters they don't bother coming this far down anymore? Any comments would be appreciated.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

RSPB Conwy sightings board

Jack snipe (common pictured above), firecrests, bar-tailed godwits, turnstone and water pipits all feature in the latest reserve blog. At least two firecrests have been seen today, along with a treecreeper (which is far rarer here!).

Also, can I just mention the opportunity we have for a volunteer internship as a Learning Assistant, working with some of the thousands of schoolchildren who visit the reserve each summer.  More details on the RSPB website.


8 were present on Christmas Eve including 2 juvs.  I would have paid another visit on my way back home today but it was a bit flooded around there!

Monday, 14 December 2015

The Lleiniog Scoter

Alan Roebuck reported through Martin an interesting Scoter a few weeks back off Lleiniog near Beaumaris. It had a lot of yellow on it's bill and he was wondering if it could be an American Black Scoter. However several days back he got this diagnostic shot of the bird which shows it to be a Common Scoter with extensive yellow on it's bill. If it was an American Black Scoter it would have a much larger knob and the yellow would be confined to the bulbous knob where-as this photo shows the yellow to be very extensive over most of the bill. A nice looking bird and one to be aware of  in Black -Scoter ID pit-falls, similar to Chris Jones's bird at Criccieth a few years back. Thanks Alan.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

RSPB Conwy sightings board

Latest news from the reserve is on the blog.  Highlights include a Cetti's warbler singing along the Ganol Trail on Thursday (10th), a water pipit photographed on the saltmarsh, and a woodcock on the same day.  Choughs have been seen regularly recently, five firecrests were seen around the trails and half a dozen pink-footed geese flew upriver calling on Wednesday.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Bangor Birdgroup Christmas Quiz

Tomorrow night (Wednesday) is Bangor Birdgroup Christmas Quiz. Eat drink, be Merry and have a try at becoming the Birdbrain of Bangor Birdgroup for 2015-2016! The winner will get the Shield and gets to choose from one of these great books. See you at 7.30 in the Brambell Building, in the Common Room

Little Auk

Simon and Reg had a Little a Auk at Cemlyn on Sunday.

Whooper Swans

Nigel's had 4 at Bodeillio recently. I had 8 Swan sp's at Malltraeth today distantly but couldn't see their head! Are there any other whoopers on Anglesey at the mo? How many are at Glaslyn and are their numbers up, down or @ normal levels?


Nigel Brown had a Short eared Owl and Barn Owl at Cors Bodeillio today. There's also 4 Whooper Swans there today still. He also had another SEO and Barn Owl flying around at Malltraeth RSPB reserve at 2.45 pm yesterday, probably because the high water levels are reducing their hunting habitat and forcing them to feed in the day and night?

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Large Starling Roost in North East Anglesey

Having spent several weeks tracking large Starling flocks flying over my house every morning, I finally got out on a calm evening to pinpoint the roost site. The birds are roosting in a small reedbed south east of Parys Mountain, next to a small windfarm. X marks the spot! Grid Ref. SH449897

This evening I estimated the numbers at between 75 and 100,000 birds coming into roost. The small reedbed slowly turned black as several large flocks flew straight into roost (there was no murmuration though). Several flocks of sheep and horses were startled by the huge numbers landing in the fields nearby.

The roost can be seen well, but distantly, from Parys Mountain, but there are several footpaths on the map which could be explored. Not the biggest roost I've seen on the island but pretty spectacular, and I'm not aware of them using this site before.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Panama : Birding in the rain

Ian Newton is coming over from Yorkshire today to give us a talk on the wonderful Birds and wildlife of Panama. It should be a great talk with some stunning photography of wonderful birds. Hopefully see you later at Bangor Birdgroup, Brambell building at the Uni. Doors open 7am for a 7.30 KO. Members free, non members £2, all welcome.

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 grahammcelwaine@btinternet.com
  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 http://www.cbrg.org.uk/ 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!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Anglesey Halloween Thrush-fest!

We came out of the kids Halloween Disco at 8 pm and I pointed out to them the constant drawn-out tseeep-like call of the Redwings passing overhead. It's a common sound in October and November as birds pile into the UK and Ireland to escape the cold Northern winters. Tonight was quite unusual in that it's the last day of October and it's extremely mild and there's no wind. So presumably the birds are making the most of ideal weather conditions for an-incident free night of passage across North West Europe. However tonight the Redwing passage was constant and un-interrupted, with their "tseeep" - like call being heard every few seconds. I must confess that when I hear them normally I am always pleased to hear them and may stand there for a few minutes. However as it was more noticeably audible in the night sky I stayed out their for about 15 minutes and got the kids out who were also fascinated. But tonight amongst the Redwings I could also hear Fieldfares, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds amongst the Redwings, it was amazing, and the kids were also amazed at the constant calls of the different types of birds passing over-head, no-doubt tonight in their thousands. I've seen on the internet recently radar-maps of bird migration. I wonder if anyone has any contacts at RAF Valley who could confirm the degree of migration over Anglesey on Halloween via Radar, and did anyone else out there pick up on the scale of over-head migration tonight? It was a real treat!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Bits and Bobs

The only birding I've managed this week is walking to and from my car on my way to work, shocking really (Gareth and Dafydd ;-) However I did have my first two local Fieldfares of the winter fly over the house in Cemaes on Monday (19th Oct). Mike Smith had 3 Whooper Swans fly over Cemaes on Wednesday and the Great grey Shrike was showing well again at the usual spot near Prenteg, Porthmadog yesterday (see earlier post). However my highlight this week was a very vocal Brambling "squerking" as it flew over my house this morning. That put a smile on my face.
"I love the sound of Brambling in the morning!", it's better than the smell of napalm anyway ;-)

Monday, 19 October 2015

Pallas's Warbler and Firecrest

One of these little beauties was on Bardsey today. Here's a shot I got of one on Saturday where I popped over to the East Coast for the day. Between Spurn and Flamborough I had 2 Pallas's Warblers, Firecrest, American Golden Plover, 2 GG Shrikes, Jack Snipe bobbing,  Siberian Stonechat and lots of visible migration. Redwings, Fieldfare and Swallow overhead together, Goldcrests in every bush. You really do get to see migration in full swing, plus a handful of rare/scarce birds all in one day = happy birder!
Otherwise today there were 2 Firecrests reported at Conwy RSPB, hopefully back for the winter.

The Somerset Levels comes to Bangor

I visited the Somerset Levels this spring to see this cracking Hudsonian Godwit. Whilst obviously being very happy to see this very striking and very rare bird I was also amazed at the amount of other good birds on show. Numerous Bitterns booming and flying around, Great White Egrets, Cranes, Cetti's Warblers and Little Bittern's have bred there recently too! This has to be one of, if not the best wetland area in the UK. So if you can this Wednesday, why not come over to Bangor Bird-group to see Mike Roberts (Birder/Photographer) who is kindly coming over from the North West to tell us all about this wetland area that has a special place in his heart.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey III

The United Kingdom is internationally important for its numbers of wintering waterbirds, and many of these are monitored annually by the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) counts. However, the WeBS counts are mostly made on estuaries and inland waterbodies, therefore leaving the majority of the coastline uncounted. The 2015/16 Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey (NEWS) will focus coverage on these important and under-recorded habitats.

 It is known that important populations of several species such as Purple Sandpipers and Turnstone occur around our shores outside of estuaries, and consequently are not monitored annually.  Following the original Winter Shorebird Count carried out in 1985 and NEWS counts in 1997/98 and 2006/07, the third repeat of NEWS will be carried out this coming winter.

The non-estuarine coastline is broken up into count sectors approximately 2km long, though some are shorter and some longer.  There are 10 priority sections which have been selected at random in each region.  These priority sections will be allocated first and then the others will be available for allocation.  The survey runs from 1st December 2015 to 31st January 2016 and just a single count is needed, with all birds and mammals using the section recorded.

How to take part

  • The survey will be carried out in conjunction with the Wetland Bird Survey, so if you are an existing WeBS Counter who uses WeBS Online, the NEWS options to select sectors will automatically appear on your WeBS Data Home page. 
  • If you are not a WeBS Counter but you have taken part in one of the BTO's online surveys (BBS, Atlas, BirdTrack etc) then please visit Survey Home where you will find a NEWS bar in your list of available surveys.  Click on the word "Setup" to gain access to the online interface to be able to request your sectors and input your counts.
  • If you have not used WeBS Online before or do not have a BTO username you will need to register for an online username and password, then please visit Survey Home to see the NEWS bar.  Click on the word "Setup" to gain access to the online interface to be able to select your sectors and input your counts.
  • You can request any sector to count, though we do ask that if possible you choose one of the priority sections.
Further details from your WSeBS organiser or Kelvin at BTO Cymru.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Barn Owls

Babs O'Hara , RSPB South Stack volunteer informed me that a Barn Owl had been seen dead at Llandadrig, Cemaes so I went to check it out this morning. When I found the place, the holidaymakers took me to the spot where it was snagged on a fence. It had got its toe stuck in the barbed wire and was dangling upside down, with it's de-capitated head half a metre below on the floor, sad but bizarre! All I can think is it got it's foot stuck in the wire fence and died and perhaps a fox had pulled off it's head and didn't like the taste. I'm sure I heard somewhere that owls taste funny, but I could be mistaking them with Choughs? Does anyone out there know?
Anyway, Kelvin, it also had a ring on it FH96513, it was retrieved this morning at SH377 943 any history would be appreciated. Mike T, sadly this could have been the bird you had roosting in a cave at White Lady Bay last winter.
Barn Owls have no luck on Anglesey. About 120 -140 ish have been picked up dead on the A55, on Anglesey, since it opened 14 years ago, so that's approximately 10 a year and there are only estimated to be about 30 pairs on the Island. However the Cemlyn birds have been showing recently which is nice to see, so there are still some alive on Anglesey!

Yesterday and today's News

Yesterday Brian Iddon had 2 Curlew Sands and a fly-over Lap bunt at Cemlyn. The Spoonbills were at Conwy RSPB in the morning only but there was a possible sighting of them over Malltraeth RSPB in the afternoon (Jim Bach).This morning Ken had 16 Fieldfare at South Stack plus Chiffchaff, Bullfinch and Reed Bunting. Yesterday he had a Richard's Pipit over Holyhead Mountain flying towards South Stack and a Brambling in his Holyhead garden. Today Firecrests were 200m East of Morfa Aber in a gorse bank (Hennerz) and on the Great Orme in Llys Helig Drive by the enterance to Broad Eaves House (Alan or per Alan).
ps. Alan Davies got out to Puffin Island yesterday to sort out the Sea-eagle reports. After checking photos, it turned out to be a Buzzard.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Spain in Bangor!

Alan Davies and Ruth Miller of The Biggest Twitch fame will be talking about Birdwatching in Spain at Bangor Birdgroup tomorrow. Doors open at 7 for a 7.30 start. It should be a good talk so hopefully see you there!

North Wales Today

Yellow browed Warbler, Wylfa Clubhouse, 10th October

The three Spoobills were still at Conwy RSPB from the Tal-y-fan hide today.
This or another Yellow browed Warbler was with a tit-flock at the car park to Wylfa head (Tony W). At Cemlyn 4 Lapland Buntings flew East over Bryn Aber walled house (David W). A Richards Pipit flew west over Hen Borth (John D), and a Hobby was reported from Carmel Head on Birdguides. Otherwise there was a Sabine's gull passed Bardsey. A bit further afield there was a Wilson's Warbler on the Isle of Lewis, hopefully Ken Croft can find one at South Stack plantation, please. 
No pressure ;-)

Monday, 12 October 2015

The Prenteg GG Shrike

It was found a week ago by Tony Pope and was seen again on Thursday and Saturday morning by Kelvin Jones. However I've tried twice with no joy so think it is wandering a little, but it's favourite spot seems to be by this old house, ironically called Ty Newydd (New House!). Good luck if you try.

Spoonbills at Conwy

Here's a shot of the three juvenile Spoonbills seen at Conwy RSPB yesterday found by Tony White. They were in the Midlands earlier that day and included a Dutch ringed individual. I hope they are still there today.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Birds on the move

Tony White found a Yellow Browed warbler at Wylfa today near the visitors center at 9.20. It turned up again nearby and was still with tits and goldcrests at 12 noon by the Social club. I bumped into it whilst collecting conkers with the kids! At c11am 65 Pink footed geese flew west over here. We then went to Coffee cups at Penrhos country Park where a flock of 15 coal tits fell out of the sky into a nearby bush then flew off again high, calling, over the cob embankment towards Valley.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Redwings, Jays and Coal tits

Sticking my head out of the skylight just before midnight I heard my first two Redwings of the autumn tonight. I had four jays flying over open fields passed Coedanna today and 6 at HHBWCP on Sunday, plus one in Cemaes then. They are obviously birds on the move but where from? There also seems to be plenty Coal tits around with a group of 5 in Holyhead BWCP on Sunday and an unusual presence on our estate the week before. I notice there has been plenty on the Orme recently. Are these British or continental birds? If continental was there any arriving at Spurn at the weekend Marc? I noticed there was also a report of a Continental tree-creeper on the Orme today. Does anyone know who had that?

Risso's around!

At least 50 Risso's dolphins are around North Anglesey at the mo! 4 were at Point Lynas today but, like last year, they are showing well off Bull bay, East Mouse and Amlwch Port. Thanks to Mike Thompson for the heads up!

Alpine Swift still there

The Swift was seen over Penrhyn Bay again on and off until 4.30pm  at least so is probably still in the area!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Alpine Swift over the Little Orme

Hennerz found an Alpine swift over the Little Orme and Penrhyn bay this evening, last seen feeding with bats at dusk so presumably has roosted in the area, so it would definitely be worth heading out there at dawn in case it puts in a repeat performance!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Anglesey and the Lleyn

Today I had a single Crossbill over South Stack' 6 PB Brent's back at Penrhos plus an adult and a second winter Med gull.At least 2 adult Meds flew over the car as I drove through Llanynghenedl from the gull flocks feeding in the adjacent fields. On Sunday at Cemlyn there were 14 Grey, 14 Golden Plovers, a Whimbrel, Greenshank and 4 PB Brent's flew west. On Saturday the 26th, there was a single Black Guillimot in HH Fishquay, a Cetti's warbler was unusual at Llyn Maelog and a close  Garganey at Malltraeth Cob was a bonus, with 10 Pintail nearby.
Llanbedrog later that afternoon, as well as the usual suspects produced a late Sand Martin. A week earlier on South a Stack road I had a Spot Fly.

Friday, 25 September 2015

RSPB Conwy sightings board

On the lagoons, a spotted redshank has been here for several weeks, as has a green sandpiper, though both may soon be on the move. A little stint on Sunday and Monday (20th and 21st) was a great record, our first this year (photo by Henry Cook @HCBirding via Twitter), while a few bar-tailed godwits (from Russia) have been feeding on the estuary.

For more news on this week's sightings, read the reserve blog.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

House Martins and Swift

On Monday morning the 14th Sept there were 150 House Martins in a flock circling over Cemaes and a Swift passed though them.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Cemlyn today

I managed to escape briefly to Cemlyn today. Yesterday Tony had 5 Knot, a Curlew Sand, 6 Golden Plover and a Grey Plover. There were two Swifts there on Friday. Today highlights included 5 Arctic Skuas and Mark S had a Pom off Carmel head. There was a Whimbrel and 5 Wheatears on the Trwyn. But my highlights were non-avian. 5 Risso's Dolphin, Reg Thorpe and an Adder showing well, but all too brief. (The adder, not Reg, he hung around for a bit of a chat).The House Martin numbers over the estate are starting to drop off a little after a max count of 110 birds over Cemaes last Sunday the 6th Sept. Also two fly-by Jays through Cemaes was quite unusual today.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Alaw Reservoir yesterday

Many thanks to Ste C for updating on the Alaw Reservoir situation, and of course to Geoff and the team for all their hard work. I had to take my car to Pentraeth yesterday, so thought i'd combine with a visit to the south hide as it'd been on my "to do" list for a couple of years. Found the hide after a while, it obviously hadn't been used a lot as there were owl pellets scattered around! No mud visible, so after checking the ducks, the last resort was the distant flock of gulls along the far side on the water. An ad YLG was nice, then i got a "wow" factor as i scanned through and the bird in the linked video appeared in my scope. Apologies for the poor quality, but the birds were distant and i was on 60x on my scope and full zoom on my phone. The bird had a strikingly pale head and breast, with a noticeably pear-shaped head with a long, parallel-sided bill and small piggy eyes. It appeared somewhat attenuated due to an impression of long (folded) wings, which seem slightly "bulky" from the base of the tertials and can be seen in the clip. I think the primaries might still be growing. I tried posting earlier but couldn't get the video to load, then Hennerz suggested uploading to Youtube. I thought it looked good for 2nd calendar-year Caspian Gull, though whether there's enough on it for a submission i seriously doubt! Having just looked at the uploaded video on Youtube, the quality is significantly worse than it is on my laptop, pausing it helps somewhat but it's sill pretty crap tbh! Something to look out for anyway in any gull flocks, especially in fields etc i would guess.

Cheers, Mike.


RSPB Conwy sightings board

The last week has seen a good range of waders feeding on the nature reserve lagoons: spotted redshank (Tuesday to Friday 11th), green sandpiper (daily to Thursday 10th), two knots and up to 26 black-tailed godwits (Thursday 10th), golden plover (Thursday 10th and Friday 11th), greenshank and 40 dunlins (Friday 11th), and common sandpiper (Saturday 12th). Bird of the week, however, was a Temminck's stint, found late on Monday 7th and still here on Tuesday 8th, but as soon as the morning mist had lifted, so it did too.

For more recent sightings and news of a colour-ringed black-tailed godwit seen recently, visit the reserve blog.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


Kingfishers put on a good show this afternoon at the Spinnies,four birds seen. Get there early as it is rather busy there at the moment,not with birdwatchers as such. Photographers making the most of the superb birds and lighting conditions.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Llyn Alaw Hide is accessible again thanks to the Silver Slashers

The main hide on the southern shore of the north east end of Llyn Alaw always used to be a spot worth visiting to do a bit of birding. However it has been a no-go area for years. Not because of Shining Path Guerrillas or the like but due to several trees being blown down and making access impossible. However thanks to the Silver Slashes (a non-paramilitary group of helpful ramblers), they have now cleared access to the hide. Hats off to them and a big thank you! So there's a prize for the first birders to go down there and find a good bird for us all to see :-) So lets get down there and see what we've all been missing for years. I think Ken had a Baird's Sand there once? Anyway thanks to Geoff Gibbs for letting us know about this, however we are still waiting for news on accessibility to the less popular North Hide.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Great White Egret at Cemlyn again

There was one about 3 or 4 weeks ago. Tony White had one this evening leave the lagoon in the direction of Wylfa Woods, possibly to roost as it was c.7.30 pm.

The Balearics of Bull Bay

As the winds have been NW-N for the last few days I thought I would have a sea watch off the tip of Bull Bay headland, an easily accessible sea watching site with parking nearby, just NW of Amlwch. There were lots of  rafts of Razorbills and Guillimots just offshore with their still noisy offspring. Feeding amongst them were a dozen or so Manxies, a few Fulmars, Shags, dozens of Kittiwakes, Porpoise, Gannets, Sandwich Terns and at least 2 but probably 3 Balearic Shearwaters. These Mediterranean Shearwaters were feeding relatively close, occasionally flying from one group of feeding birds to another, showing off their dusky plumage, pot bellies and different flight to their close relatives the Manx Shearwater with which they used to be conspecific.
I always love to see these birds as they are probably one of if not the rarest bird on global terms that passes through our region. The last census of this species estimated the breeding population on the Balearic Islands, the only place in the World that they breed, at c. 3,200 pairs. However surveys off the Iberian  shelf  estimate there to be between 13-20,000 birds of which 9-13,000 are mature birds (Birdlife). So it's always a treat to see them and I even managed to photograph them (badly!) for the first time today! Other birds included one Arctic Skua and 10 Common Scoters.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Nant Ffrancon

An early morning walk in Nant Ffrancon yesterday morning produced a flock of over 50 Mistle Thrush plus 6 Song Thrush and 2 Ring Ouzel,2 Chough. Good numbers of juvenile Stonechats.

RSPB Conwy sightings board

Evening visitors to the reserve are enjoying quite a spectacle this week, with thousands of Swallows coming in to roost in the reedbed. Check out the reserve blog or RSPB North Wales Facebook page for a short video of the pre-roost action by Ian Collier. Thanks to Bob Garrett for the excellent photo too.

There are small numbers of sand martins among the house martins each day, and we've still been seeing swifts most days (most recently yesterday, 30th). A juvenile stonechat has been here for a couple of weeks, presumably a locally nesting bird, and was still present this morning along the Ganol Trail.

Finally, we're hosting Binocular and Telescope Open Weekends at Conwy on 5/6 September and at Burton Mere Wetlands on Sunday 27 September - great opportunities to try out a good range of optics (including the new Swarovski ELs) in the field.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Julians Bird Notes this morning in the Daily Post refer to the mass killing of migrants in Malta and other Mediterranean countries and I applaud any effort to get this issue over to the general public. Unfortunetly this problem is a lot closer to home,but thankfully not on the same scale. On a visit earlier this year to Bangor hospital I saw a bloke with a green T shirt on. It had the logo of a harrier on the front and the phrase Julian refers to in his notes 'IF IT FLIES IT DIES'


For around 10 minutes or so, at high tide at Aber Ogwen this morning, we watched a Black Tern flying back and forth, often quite close in.

Monday, 24 August 2015

RSPB Conwy sightings board

This week's waders include green sandpiper, up to 20 black-tailed godwits and 35 dunlins, ruff, ringed plover, whimbrel, greenshank, knot and snipe. Up to 90 little egrets have been feeding on the estuary this week, while three Sandwich terns were a surprise addition to the monthly Wetland Bird Survey and a Mediterranean gull was a bonus on Friday (14th).

We've seen more lesser whitethroats over the weekend, and it's been a good autumn for redstarts, with one or two on several dates over the last couple of weeks. Other highlights include spotted flycatcher, stock dove and stonechat, but perhaps bird of the week was a hobby on Friday evening (14th).

For more sightings, visit the Conwy reserve blog

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Hoopoe at Nant Gwrtheyrn?

I've just had a phone call from the Caernarfon Herald. A reader reports a Hoopoe yesterday around the car park at Nant Gwrtheryn, near Llithfaen.

I'm not sure whether this refers to the top car park (by the forestry) or the lower one near the buildings, but I'm guessing the higher one because the person was heading off up the adjacent mountain.

Might be worth a look for anyone in the Trefor/Nefyn area

Thursday, 13 August 2015

RSPB Conwy sightings board

As the water level drops, the lagoons are a magnet for waders, and you never know what will have arrived during the night.  Visitors over recent days include knot, green sandpiper, little ringed plover, common sandpiper, up to 40 dunlins and several black-tailed godwits, including one wearing coloured leg-rings (from Iceland we guess, but we are waiting to hear).

August is a month in which anything can appear, though often briefly: a first-summer little gull was a great find among the black-headed gulls during the evening roost on Monday (10th),  a scaup on Tuesday (11th), a whinchat and red kite were both seen on Sunday (9th); a spotted flycatcher was here on Saturday (8th), but that it's the first this year is a sad sign of their huge decline.

We've also had two new species on the reserve this week: check our blog to find out what.

North Wales Twite Recovery

I have made a number of visits to Nant Ffrancon and have yet to find any Twite. The late wet spring did not help as there was very little growth early on to provide them with their staple diet of seeds.

Has anybody else seen or heard Twite this spring?

The birds in the Pennines are beginning to form post breeding flocks, so presumably our should be doing the same in the next few weeks.

Your help would be appreciated, if you see any let the team know.

Kelvin Jones
BTO Cymru
North Wales Twite Recovery Project

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

RSPB Conwy sightings board

Wader movement evident at the reserve this week, attracted by the falling water levels on the lagoons.  One or two green sandpipers have been here most days for the last fortnight, a curlew sandpiper and ringed plover were seen yesterday (3rd), and there are several whimbrels on the estuary which come onto the lagoon islands at high tide. Up to 14 dunlins and 10 black-tailed godwits have been seen this week, a turnstone was reported last Wednesday (29th), two greenshanks and a grey plover on 25th.

These and other sightings on our updated blog: http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/placestovisit/conwy/b/conwy-blog/archive/2015/08/04/name-that-moth-in-five-or-six.aspx

Thanks to Aled Williams for the black-tailed godwits photo.

Friday, 31 July 2015


Another cracking experience with the Nightjars at Llyn Bodgynydd last night.One male churring. Heard one calling nearby so walked up the gravel path and one was on the path,a young bird I think,as it was calling all the time. I got to within 10 feet of it giving cracking views. It flew off several times but returned to the same spot,but even closer to me. If you go up there do not bother with midge repellent,just take your thermals,it was freezing up there !

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Happy Birthday to RSPB Conwy!

I headed over to RSPB Conwy with the family and my Dad to celebrate it's 20th Birthday yesterday afternoon which co-incided (thankfully) with the best weather of the weekend. There was plenty to do with a good selection of stalls, pond-dipping, bird-ringing demo, moths, tombola and Ice-cream! Also Iolo Williams made a speech and cut the cake to officially wish Conwy RSPB a Happy 20th Birthday. Penblwydd hapus :-)

Iolo and the boys.


Pond dipping.

Lesser Whitethroat.

Garden Tiger, one of the moths on display.

An audience with Iolo.


Smooth Newt.

Steve Dodd and a Lesse Whitethroat.

Julian, Robin and Dafydd.

Tony and Karin White