Friday, 30 December 2016

Highlights this week

I finally caught up with the Black throated thrush this week in St Asaph in the hawthorn in the stubble field by the New Inn on the other side of the river from the Football club. Although the waxwings have stripped all the berries by the small car park on the north side of the road bridge they were still very showy coming down to drink from the half frozen puddles on the nearby track. The 5 Cattle Egrets with around 5 Little Egrets were showing well all week at the side of the road around 400m North of Pont Marquis near Malltraeth. The 4 Long tailed Ducks were still showing well in Trearddur bay and there have been 9 Scaup and a GND on the Inland Sea, a Slav off Beddmanarch bay and the regular Hooded Crow in Llanfachraeth near the chapel at the Valley end of the village. A Hawfinch coming to feeders in Cemaes Bay yesterday was a rare treat for Anglesey Birders!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Eyes peeled for Ring billed Gulls

There were 5 new Ring Billed Gulls in SW Ireland today. So with the stronger winds coming in from the west it may be worth checking your local gull flocks for these (and other ) American Gulls.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

North Wales Birding Today

Me and Tony put in a late appearance at the St Asaph Black throated Thrush twitch today. However it was only seen on one occasion today for a few seconds by Alan Davies and a lucky few and even Martin who was only a few meters away never saw it as he had gone back to his car for a warm. Dog walkers whistling their dogs on a few occasions caused slight panic and a little bit of running as we thought someone had relocated the bird, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. However the Waxwings were putting on a great show along with the more commoner thrush species, feeding on the ripe red berries near the Doctors Surgery / Pharmacy, offering good photographic opportunities. Three male Goosanders passed sea-wards overhead as we waited for the thrush. On our way back we called in at Trearddur bay where the 4 Long tailed Ducks that were found by Andy Spottiswood were putting on a great show in the breaking waves 10 meters offshore and up-to 20 Purple Sands were feeding on the rocks on the North Side of the bay. There are three female and a first winter male Long tailed Ducks. The male has a pink patch on his bill and a white stripe down the center of the crown. An adult male would be much whiter with a long tail. Females don't have the pink patch on the bill.  Even though we never got the intended main course , the rest of the days birds more than made up for it.

The Winners!

Well done to all who participated in the 2016 Birdbrain of Bangor Bird-group Christmas Quiz. Chris Jones won again retaining his title with 67 out of 90 (which is very good considering the difficulty of some of the questions). Hennerz came in a very close second, followed by Richard Birch then the collabaration of Robin Sandham and the Bangor Uni Students including Conor John (not John Connor!). Susan Jones was the grateful recipient of the Wooden Duck award winning a springtime guided bird tour around Snowdonia.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Do you think you are clever?

If so, join this lot in competing for the illustrious title of  Birdbrain of Bangor Birdgroup this Wednesday in the Brambell building, kick off 7.30pm. Good prizes available :-) Good prizes for the wooden spoon contenders also, so all degrees of experience are welcome. Please come along.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

RSPB Conwy sightings board

Teal and wigeon are loving the raised water levels on the Shallow Lagoon, and there are plenty of both feeding in front of the Coffee Shop, where water rails are frequent sights too.

A water pipit has been present on-and-off this week. It's usually on the saltmarsh at low tide, where it is really hard to see, but comes onto the causeway in front of Benarth Hide when it gets pushed off the estuary by rising water. Other scarce visitors include a nuthatch reported yesterday (9th), firecrest (mostly recently on Monday 5th), and brambling (3rd). 

See the reserve blog for more recent sightings at Conwy, and for news of a busy month of management work.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Shetland in Bangor

Shetland has taken over from Scilly as the Autumn Mecca for British Birders in search of rare birds. It annually turns up mouth-watering Megas like Siberian and White's Thrushes but to name a few. Tonight at Bangor Birdgroup Phil Woolen will be coming over to give us a talk about Birding on Shetland at the Brambell building at the University.It should be a good talk so don't miss out.  Doors open at 7 for a 7.30 start. All welcome.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Gambia in Bangor

Tonight at Bangor Bird-group Alun Williams will be giving us a talk on Bird-watching in the Gambia. Its a great country with some cracking birds including the rather beautiful Egyptian Plover. Doors open at the Brambell building at 7pm tonight for a 7.30 kick off.

Waxwings and Black Redstarts

On Monday there were 2 Waxwings spotted by a student on Holyhead road between Upper Bangor and the Menai Bridge in a Rowan tree by a viewpoint overlooking the straight. There were also 2 Black Redstarts including a fine looking Male at South Stack down the steps by the bridge that goes onto South Stack Island.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Key invertebrate species and their habitats in North Wales

Dr Mike Howe (NRW) will be giving a talk tonight on key invertebrate species and their habitats in North Wales. It's the joint Bangor Birdgroup meeting with the North Wales Wildlife trust at the Brambell building at the University. Doors open at 7 for a 7.30 start. All welcome.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Crossbills and Waxwings

It was the wrong moment to encounter a problem with autofocus on camera lens when 2 male and 2 female Crossbills flew down from some larches to take grit on the entrance road to Llyn Brenig.  I've worked out what the problem was, so a valuable learning opportunity.  Got one reasonable photo, other two not so good but I thought I would include the two male birds - one of which was quite bulky.  10 Waxwings south of Glan Conwy earlier in the day.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

RSPB Conwy sightings board

Best birds of early November were water pipit (Wednesday 9th), firecrest (most recently on Tuesday 8th), grey plover (Thursday 3rd-Sunday 6th), 5 rock pipits (6th), 2 greenshanks (Saturday 5th), whooper swan (1 on Thursday 3rd and 10 that stayed all day on Monday 31st) and two Mediterranean gulls on Wednesday 2nd. Two male Cetti's warblers have been singing, near The LookOut and Tal-y-fan Hide, though less vocal since the wet weather arrived. Chiffchaff and blackcap have been with us throughout the Autumn, and choughs are almost a daily occurrence, with a maximum of 7 flying over in one morning. The long-staying great white egret was last seen on Thursday 3rd.

More details on the reserve blog, plus news of habitat management work undertaken this week.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Sri Lanka comes to Bangor

I will be giving a talk at Bangor Birdgroup tonight about my trip to Sri Lanka this February just gone. Its in the Brambell building at the University, near the mini roundabout on Deiniol road just down from Bangor Station opposite Asda. Doors open at 7 for a 7.30 kick off. All welcome.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Anglesey News and Ringed Black headed Gull

This morning on the Range at South Stack there were 4 Lapland buntings feeding on the North End of the Range. They were quite flighty and vocal but when they touched down they were quite approachable.
Visible migration over South Stack Cafe between 9,30 and 10 am produced
Lapland Bunting 2
Reed Bunting 1
Chaffinch 454
Starling 580
Greenfinch 60
Goldfinch 25
Siskin 8
Meadow Pipit 35
Mistle Thrush 5
Merlin 1
Skylark 2
Redpoll 4
Linnet 6
At Llyn Llewennan there was a family party of 4 Greenland Whitefronted Geese with the large Canada Goose flock an there were 3 Whooper Swans on the lake with the Mute Swans. Also another Lapland bunting flew over here calling with a small flock of Skylarks.
At Penrhos Country Park Car Park at SH 275805 there was an adult Black headed Gull with a single metal ring on its left leg. Numerous photos allowed me to read it and it said
3. 589. 203

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Mark Avery comes to Bangor Bird group this Wednesday

Tomorrow night Mark will talk about the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon in North America - formerly the most numerous bird on the planet, and about his campaign to ban driven grouse shooting.
Mark worked for the RSPB for 25 years and was the Conservation Director for 13 of them. He now writes columns for Birdwatch and British Wildlife and has written a number of books including A Message from Martha - the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon and its relevance today, Inglorious - conflict in the uplands and Remarkable Birds.
          Doors open at the Brambell Building at the University at 7pm for a 7.30 start

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

RIP Hoopoe

Sad news this afternoon as the Hoopoe at Conwy RSPB reserve was unfortunately taken by a Peregrine :-(

Tonight at Bangor Birdgroup...

Tonight it is the joint talk with the NW Wildlife trust. Sabine Nouvet, A Conservation Ecologist for the National Trust will be talking about Shepherding in the Uplands. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30 start, all welcome.

Cemaes Bay Birds

This is one of the rather showy Kingfishers that have been in the Wooded Valley along the River Wygyr over the last few weeks. From the beach car park walk under the road into the Valley and it favours the area of river on the right just as it passes under the trees. I also had a Yellow Browed Warbler on the 24th October in the Valley and Martin had a Firecrest here on the 22nd and nearby I had a Jack Snipe on the 21st October on Parys Mountain.

North Wales Birding - Tue 25th Oct

I headed up into Snowdonia yesterday for a bit of a change. After a quiet drive up the Nant Francon Valley a quick coffee stop produced a male Ring Ouzel, Dipper, Grey Wag and a noticeable passage of winter thrushes over the pass near the Youth Hostel. The Ugly house feeders are full and Nuthatches and Treecreepers were around in this lovely setting with glorious Autumnal colours as a backdrop. I carried on to Clocaenog where there are good numbers of Crossbills at Bod Petrael and the Car Park at the base of Craig Bran Banog. There was also brief sightings of Goshawks flying low over the plantations as we drove around the forest. The Rowan and Hawthorn bushes are bursting with berries and large numbers of Fieldfares, Redwings and Starlings were making quick work of the berries. One roadside was fringed with large numbers of Fly Agaric toadstools. As we headed back, news of a Hoopoe at Conwy dictated that we would be going back to Anglesey via the RSPB reserve where this somewhat flighty Hoopoe showed very well.