Friday, 30 September 2011

Uwchmynydd Migrants

Drove to Uwchmynydd this morning - nearly flattening a leveret on the way - and did my regular circuit around the fields, lanes and maritime heath in lovely hot sunny weather.

Plenty of visible migration was happening with the usual suspects dominating - Chaffinch, Siskin, Starling, Skylark, alba wagtails and hirundines. Two noisy flocks of Crossbill - totalling 16 birds - headed over.

Other species included 3 Wheatear, 12+ migrant Coal Tit plus small numbers of Blue & Great Tit, 2 Chiffchafff, 5 Goldcrest, 29 Linnet and 4 Yellowhammer.

Good to see the local Choughs doing well with 27 over Mynydd Gwyddel and a few more scattered around.

Had brief views of a small Adder on the heath which scuttled into some gorse while a visitor reported a new born Grey Seal pup in Porth Felen.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Clouded Yellow

One of these gorgeous butterflies whizzed past me as I walked down to the beach by Treheli Farm at the west end of Porth Neigwl, Rhiw this afternoon.

Three Mediterranean Gulls were on the shoreline (2 adults and a 1st winter) plus several hundred Herring Gulls while a couple of Chough were over the cliffs.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Migrating Buzzards

Checked Porth Meudwy again this morning hoping for that Brown Flycatcher to appear... as usual it did not, but there were some nice birds around and the weather was superb; hot and dry with blue skies and a fresh southerly breeze.

A superb Whinchat flycatching from the blackthorns near the car park was a valley tick for me.

Other species included a trickle of hirundines, 12 Robin, 12 Blackbird (influx), 1 Song Thrush, 7 Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaff, 7 Goldcrest, 3 Chough (again), 30 Jackdaw over, several small flocks of Chaffinch dropping in, a few alba wagtails, Skylarks and 3 Siskin over plus at least 3 Crossbills calling overhead

The resident Little Owl was again sat sunbathing at the window inside one of the outbuildings at Cwrt farm!

Raptors included Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and an interesting flock of  7 1st winter Common Buzzards that flew east over the bottom of the valley. I had a flashback to a similar passage last autumn when there was a kettle of 20+ birds over Uwchmynydd in similar weather. I wonder if such movements are encountered anywhere else in North Wales e.g. Great Orme or South Stack? 

Had to call into town this afternoon and again checked the harbour. Big tides meant there were acres of mud exposed but a bait collector had flushed some birds. Nevertheless waders comprised: 6 Oystercatcher, 80 Ringed Plover, 1 Knot, 1 Curlew Sandpiper still, 7 Dunlin, 7 Curlew, 43 Redshank, and a Turnstone. A single Sandwich Tern was roosting on one of the buoys while a Kingfisher whistled past.

A Reed Bunting was calling from the Cob Pool which held a few ducks and waders as usual but nothing unusual.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Rhiw Crossbills

I had the pleasure of leading a walk for the Cambrian Ornithological Society today. We met at the east end of Porth Neigwl where a steady passage of Swallows and a few Skylark were moving amongst other common species. With no water on the Llanengan flood plain - and lots of visiting surfers around - we headed over to the other side of the bay and walked through the conifer plantations, regenerating clearfell, fridd and mixed deciduous woodland from Ty'n y Parc around to Plas yn Rhiw.

Highlights here were several mobile groups of Crossbill. We recorded 6 flying over then a flock of 14 birds followed by 9 which were flushed by Ffynnon Saint. I suspect that these were all different birds. A good flock of 40+ Siskin and a single Lesser Redpoll were around the alders by the new ponds at Ty'n y Parc with a nice selection of other typical woodland birds including Long-tailed Tits and Bullfinch. A Green Woodpecker showed well in flight with a Sparrowhawk in hot pursuit while later Nuthatch and Jay were found by the Plas.
After lunch the group visited Pwllheli Harbour. Highlights were Kingfisher, two adult Mediterranean Gulls on the Cob Pool, great views of at least one Peregrine buzzing over the water and a selection of waders including  the Curlew Sandpiper again and 5 Bar-tailed Godwit.

The day's total came to about 60 species. Thanks to all the 12 members and friends for pleasant company and some good birding.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Pwllheli Curlew Sandpiper

After a week of vehicle problems and poor weather I checked town this afternoon. Glorious warm sunshine made it an enjoyable walk and a nice selection of birds were seen.

The tide was low on arrival then incoming rapidly; waders included 43 Oystercatcher, 10 Ringed Plover, a smart Curlew Sandpiper, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 17 Curlew, 87 Redshank, 1 Turnstone plus a Snipe on the Cob Pool. The Teal flock had increased to 18 here.

Three Mediterranean Gulls were loafing around the Cob Pool - a 1w and two adults including one yellow colour-ringed bird with black lettering. I am investigating the origins of this individual. Also here were 4 Wigeon and 20 Teal.

A superb Clouded Yellow was over the wildflower filled land opposite the council buildings, the first I've seen in the area for years. 

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Tree Pipit

Had a wander down Porth Meudwy mid-morning; the weather was mild and calm with the cloud lifting and it became a beautiful sunny day.

Good to see some visible migration occurring with a steady passage of hirundines, finches, pipits and wagtails.

Totals for species overflying the valley came to: 5 Skylark, 282 Swallow, 46 House Martin, 1 Tree Pipit, 33 Meadow Pipit, 7 Grey Wagtail, 20 alba wagtails (plus 10 White Wagtail sharing an adjacent field with 2 Wheatear), 23 Linnet and 1 Siskin.

The group of  presumably the same 3 vocal Chough were again by the cove while a total of 11 Raven headed over.

The site also held: 1 Song Thrush, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 11 Blackcap, 12 Chiffchaff, 9 Goldcrest, 2 Bullfinch, 1 Yellowhammer and a Great Spotted Woodpecker amongst other common species.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sabine's Gull

Another trip to Porth Ysgaden on Tuesday. Other observers were Dave Lamacraft, Rhys Jones and an unnamed visitor from Kent.

Wind was force WSW 7, dry and mild with broken cloud and sunshine. Visibility was excellent.

Birds logged between 0645-1245 were:

Shelduck 1
Common Scoter 2
Red-breasted Merganser 1
Red-throated Diver 4
Fulmar 33
Sooty Shearwater 5
Manx Shearwater 833
Leach's Petrel 2
Gannet 68
Shag 42 (presumed local movements)
Arctic Skua 4 pale phase adults
Great Skua 7
Mediterranean Gull 1w
Sabine's Gull 1w flew past over the shore at 10:34 hrs
Black-headed Gull 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1
Herring Gull 3
Kittiwake 134
Sandwich Tern 212 
Arctic Tern 4
Arctic/Common Tern 1
Guillemot 2
Razorbill 5
Guillemot/Razorbill 118 (vast majority were Razors)
Black Guillemot 2
Bar-tailed Godwit 3
Curlew 3 NE
Whimbrel 1
Dunlin 7
Redshank 1

Also present:

Rock Pipit 1
Grey Wagtail 2
Linnet 12

It was "not quite Ireland" in terms of the species and numbers but highly rewarding - special thanks to the visitor for calling the Sabine's at point blank range as we scoped the horizon!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Leach's Petrel

Another draughty morning with winds gusting to 72 mph in Aberdaron - a Violent Storm according to the Beaufort Scale.

Destination was again Porth Ysgaden. The SW was force 7-8 veering WSW later, dry and mild with broken cloud and sunshine.

Birds logged between 0715-1215 were:

Common Scoter 7
Red-throated Diver 1
Fulmar 2
Sooty Shearwater 1
Manx Shearwater 43
Leach's Petrel 1
Gannet 100
Shag 13
Arctic Skua 1 pale phase adult
Black-headed Gull 7
Herring Gull 29
Kittiwake 70
Sandwich Tern 320 - excellent count
Arctic Tern 1
Arctic/Common Tern 17
Guillemot 5
Razorbill 25
Guillemot/Razorbill 160 (most of which were probably Razors)
Knot 2
Whimbrel 2
Swallow 10
Wheatear 1

Risso's Dolphins - 2 marbled fins seen close in again, heading NE.

These numbers are all well and good but seawatching brings as many questions as figures. How would the counts change by the addition of other observer(s) to connect with other birds? Why so few skuas today - presumably many rest up on the sea before continuing when the winds are too strong? Where are all the Fulmars from earlier in the week, never mind the Sooty Shearwaters? I love how the mix of species - and totals - change with each session.

Highlights were many - from the tiny Leach's struggling into the wind at first light and still heading SW to the flock of Swallows coming in off the sea and heading south to Africa. The diver was the first of the autumn for me, Rhys had one plus two each of Arctic' and Great Skuas here yesterday.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Cob Pool Med Gulls

Passed through town this afternoon and could not resist another look in the harbour. It was mild again, with broken sunshine and a SW gale blowing. Mild enough for a Chiffchaff to be singing from the Sea Buckthorn!

The low tide waders comprised: 17 Oystercatcher, an influx of 108 Ringed Plover, 9 Dunlin, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Curlew, 33 Redshank, while the lone Greenshank was still stuck in the mud on the Cob Pool. A massive count of 9 Moorhen (!) and 8 Teal were also here.. while the lone Brent Goose was again by the marina.

Four Mediterranean Gulls were roosting on the pool (2 each of 2w and adults). One of the adults was wearing a red ring inscribed with white lettering but was too distant to read. Must take a loaf down next visit to tempt it closer!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Pwllheli Harbour

Checked the harbour again this afternoon - the tide was low with a variety of waders around; 36 Oystercatcher, 38 Ringed Plover, 7 Knot, 10 Dunlin, single Black-tailed' & Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Curlew, 70 Redshank, 3 Turnstone and single Snipe & Greenshank on the Cob Pool. The Teal flock had increased to 18 here.

The Brent Goose was still by the marina, while 2 Wheatears, a Whitethroat and 3 Chiffchaff were around the grassland and scrub opposite the council offices. A distant Common/Arctic Tern was seen briefly while gulls included three Meds (1w, 2w and adult) on the pool.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Brent Goose

There was no sign of yesterday's Melodious' in Porth Meudwy this morning although two Lesser Whitethroat were present along with 17 Blackcap, 21 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler and 8 Goldcrest. 

Had a quick look around Pwllheli Harbour this evening. The tide was coming in rapidly and most of the waders had already flown off to roost elsewhere. A couple of Knot fed along the rapidly diminishing mud in the harbour while the Greenshank was still on the Cob Pool with 82 Redshank and 12 Teal. Three Wheatear were around the site.

An adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose by the marina channel was an unusual find, both for the early date and the location. I've seen Brents along the coast near Llanbedrog in the past but never in town.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Melodious Warbler

With the wind decreasing slightly - and an uncomfortable back and neck ache after stooping over a telescope these last few days seawatching - I decided that a spot of terrestrial birding was in order so headed down to Porth Meudwy mid-morning.

The great thing about this place is the fact that because it curves round and is heavily vegetated no matter the wind direction there will be some shelter for birds and birders!

It was apparent that autumn is here with a few Goldcrests, phylloscs and Robins calling from the car park.

Eventually I found a mixed flock of tits and warblers below the Tir Glyn caravan site, and started pishing to see what popped up. Fortunately, amongst the Chiffchaffs, Great' & Blue Tits that were checking out the strange noises, I glimpsed a Melodious Warbler that appeared briefly in a small hawthorn (grid ref SH158257). Views were brief and poor but I managed to nail the salient features. After just a minute or so the bird dropped into cover and did not reappear in the next 3 hours of trying to relocate it!

Other species present in/over the valley included a Grey Wagtail, 3 alba wagtails, 15 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, a Lesser Whitethroat, 13 Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler, a Spotted Flycatcher, 20 Linnet and 3 Chough down by the slipway.

A single Speckled Wood was the only butterfly noted - while Rhys informs me of 2 Clouded Yellows on the waste land opposite the council offices in Pwllheli. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Ysgaden Risso's

With the forecast still good I arranged to meet Rhys Jones for another seawatch.

The morning was brighter; dry, with a force 7 westerly and some broken cloud.

Total counts (all heading SW) between 0715-1055 hrs were:

12 Common Scoter
49 Fulmar
21 Sooty Shearwater - the highest number recorded on site.
262 Manx Shearwater
141 Gannet
9 Shag (presumably local birds)
7 Sanderling
2 Whimbrel
16 Arctic Skua (5 distant dark, 3 pale phase adults, 1 intermediate and 7 gingery immatures)
5 Great Skua
415 Kittiwake
1 GBB Gull
8 Sandwich Tern
7 Common/Arctic Tern
1 Razorbill
1 Guillemot
4 Auk sp

Strangely no Balearic Shearwaters were seen - usually they're guaranteed here.

A single peachy 1st winter Wheatear was hanging around by the shore.

Cetacean interest came in the form of a pod of at least four Risso's Dolphins which were crashing through the surf  relatively close in - superb!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Porth Ysgaden Seawatching

The howling gale and heavy rain kept me awake most of the night so I decided that Porth Ysgaden might be worth a look. Virtually the first bird from the shelter of the old gable end was a mighty fine Sooty Shearwater at close range. These birds really are not that common around North Wales and always bring a smile.

Fortunately the rain had ceased by the time I arrived although the wind was still blowing a SW gale, decreasing slightly and heading more WSW later when a front with heavy rain had me heading for shelter. 

Total counts (all heading SW) between 0750-1220 hrs were:

1 Teal
1 Common Scoter
12 Fulmar
7 Sooty Shearwater
305 Manx Shearwater
1 Balearic Shearwater
168 Gannet
5 Shag (local birds)
4 Ringed Plover
2 Whimbrel
3 Oystercatcher
4 Arctic Skua (2 distant dark phase, 2 pale phase and a ginger juvenile heading NE)

5 Great Skua
122 Kittiwake
15 Herring Gull
3 LBB Gull
2 GBB Gull
5 Sandwich Tern
8 Common/Arctic Tern
18 Razorbill
4 Guillemot
10 Auk sp

Two Wheatear and 3 White Wagtails fed on the fields.

I've included below a few entries from the start of September for completion.

Sunday, 4th September

Uwchmynydd, 0700-0900 hs.

Calm, dry broken high cloud.

Worked my way around Mynydd Mawr logging the visible migration etc

Highlights were a mixed flock of 17 White Wagtails, 30 Meadow' and 5 Tree Pipits feeding on the sheltered south side of the mountain. It's unusual to see Tree Pipits on the ground here - most simply fly over calling (which another one did). 

A few other migrants included a Grey Wagtail, 15 Chaffinch and a Whimbrel heading south over the Swnt.

Several Chough were around - probably 8 in total. A Peregrine was screaming away manically for ages from the seacliffs but refused to show itself!

Nearby, Rhys, Simon and Jesse had Lesser Whitethroat, several Blackcaps, Garden Warbler, redpoll sp and a Golden Plover in/over Porth Meudwy.

Later I checked Pwllheli again, the tide was even higher and most of the Cob Pool was submerged. Again I wandered the whole area.

Seven Teal fed on the pool, plus a lone juv Shelduck. Waders here comprised single Greenshank, Ruff, Snipe and Dunlin with 2 Knot and 3 Black-tailed Godwits. Four Med' Gulls (3 ad plus a 2nd winter) were commuting between the flock of commoner gulls on the pool and the fields by the school.

A Whimbrel and 87 Redshank were roosting near the marina in the area I call the inner harbour plus 2 Wheatear.  

Friday, 2nd September

I headed into Pwllheli this afternoon and checked the harbour.

The tide was just beginnng to drop so I walked out onto the former 'island', dodging the dog walkers, and checked the marina area, main harbour and Cob Pool.

Three Wheatears were around the boulders on the shore with a Skylark flushed from the long grass.

Waders included 68 Redshank, 17 Oystercatchers, 14 Ringed Plover, 4 Knot, 12 Dunlin, a juvenile Ruff and a Black-tailed Godwit.

The Cob Pool was looking good with a fair amount of mud. This held 6 Teal, an early Wigeon, a Greenshank plus a smart adult Mediterranean Gull amongst the usual Black-headed', LBB's and Herring Gulls.

Thursday 1st September

Enjoyed a couple of hours in the sunshine in Porth Meudwy this morning.

Quite a few passerine migrants around including 2 each of Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat, 13 Blackcap, 14 Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler and 4 Goldcrest. Swallows were on the move with 45 through plus 6 alba wagtails.

Three noisy Chough headed over while a Sparrowhawk was hunting the valley.

Typically, the peace was shattered by news from Bardsey of a Western Bonelli's Warbler caught and ringed on the island!