Saturday, 1 October 2011

Lapland Bunting

Did a visible migration (or 'vis mig') count at Mynydd Mawr, Uwchmynydd this morning and was impressed by the numbers and variety of species as usual.

Conditions were perfect - warm, dry, some high cloud and very light SSW winds, and the sunrise over southern Snowdonia and Cardigan Bay was superb!

Total counts (with all birds heading SW) between 0715-0845 came to:

Grey Heron 1
Meadow Pipit 222
Grey Wagtail 2
Alba wagtail 10
Skylark 4
Raven 25 probably local birds
Jackdaw 11
Chaffinch 1,080
Greenfinch 10
Siskin 8
Linnet 86
Redpoll sp 1
Crossbill 1
Lapland Bunting 1
Reed Bunting 11

The figures above are mostly underestimates as my sound recording equipment was picking up many birds high overhead that I could not see and it was difficult at times to note everything down that I could. A click counter was used for the Chaffinches.

I just love vis migging - a reminder of time spent learning my birds as a keen teenager back in Sheffield. I spent hours staring at bleak moorland reservoirs hoping for something - anything - to fly over.

Rhys arrived and we decided to work around the mountain then make our way back to Porth Meudwy. Birds were still pouring overhead and the Skylarks - which always enjoy a lie in - started to come through in numbers but I had abandoned counting and was concentrating on locating any grounded migrants.

As usual, there was one that got away; this time a Locustella (probably just a Grasshopper Warbler but who knows at this time of year?) that was flushed near the summit then flew away down the precipitous slope.

Other species in the area included 1 Golden Plover, one or two Peregrines, a Wheatear and lots of grounded Meadow Pipits. The Chough flock had increased to an impressive 42 birds.

One of the weirdest sightings was a Magpie carrying a large stick - as in nestbuilding - at Pwll Bron-llwyn! This might explain why we saw no hirundines this morning - have they all headed north again in the balmy weather?!

A quick look in Porth Meudwy was pretty fruitless, with notable species being another Golden Plover over, a Great Spotted Woodpecker - which did impress one visiting Irish birder - single Blackcap and Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrests and 10 Coal Tits.

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