Thursday, 3 May 2012

Tardy Fieldfare

What a difference a few days make weather wise. After the weekend's freezing deluge temperatures have risen remarkably and the winds have settled down. After a few showers overnight I arrived at Porth Meudwy on a mild, dry morning, with a slight easterly breeze and some broken strato-cumulus.

Some nice surprises today, nothing rare but as any local patch worker will understand, the arrival of migrants, a greater awareness of resident species and the occasional unusual record is what makes regular visits to any site so rewarding - no matter where you are!  I've had the good fortune to work a great number of areas over the years from sub-urban parks, woods and farmland, upland plantations and moors, rugged mountain rivers and lakes and various stretches of coast and I value the understanding that comes from getting to know a site and it's wildlife intimately more than any other aspect of birding.

First off was a large thrush glimpsed as it flew away from me near Cwrt. Fortunately I relocated this (or another) further down the valley later and confirmed it's identity as it began chacking in typical Fieldfare style from the top of an Ash tree. It's been ages since I've recorded any of the winter thrushes down here.

Small parties of Barn Swallow were slowly drifting across, probably 20 birds in total, followed by a Swift then a vocal Tree Pipit. The Blackcap count came to 13 birds while a Garden Warbler was another year-tick and two Grasshopper Warblers reeled away. A singing Lesser Whitethroat was new in (with another in Aberdaron village later) while a couple of Common Whitethroats were on territory. Phylloscopus warblers seemed to be down with only 17 Chiffchaff and 6 Willow Warblers plus a couple of Goldcrest.

Many resident species were busy singing and Goldfinch seemed to be doing this from virtually every part of the valley with several small parties bouncing around hyper-actively. A cool monotone Stock Dove dropped in (possibly my first site record - hazy memory!), but scarce on the peninsula always. Has anyone else had them here?

Finally, two pairs of Bullfinch were seen plus five Siskin and three Lesser Redpoll passed through.

A flying (non-birding) visit to Pwllheli late afternoon found me connecting with my first singing Reed Warbler of the year on the Cob Pool while a Whimbrel was calling high overhead.

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