Sunday, 26 August 2012


Flushed a couple of Northern Wheatears by the road to Aberdaron this morning - was it a sign of hordes of migrants passing through? Checked Aberdaron briefly to see a couple of Sandwich Terns on the beach and a Grey Wagtail around the stream.

A few hours wandering around Mynydd Mawr/Uwchmynydd in beautiful weather - sunshine, blue skies with some fluffy cumulus and a refreshingly cool northerly breeze resulted in very little.

The garden at Safn Pant proved tempting so I sat on the heath above it and waited for the migrants to appear. Result - zilch! The 'flycatcher' I staked out turned out to be a juvenile Robin and a Goldcrest called from the trees but that was about it. I've said it before but will reiterate, as one of the last small patches of cover on the peninsula I reckon it must have paid host to some great migrants. Within a few hundred metres of here there have been Tawny Pipit, Alpine Swift, Shorelark, Hoopoe etc in recent years despite very sporadic visits (plus that funny flyover passerine with the totally unfamiliar call I had a few years ago!).

Anyway, the only presumed migrants this morning were a single alba wagtail, 15 Meadow Pipits that seemed to be moving and a couple of Wheatears.

Four Red-billed Chough swirled around the hill and dropped out of sight towards the seacliffs. A (family party?) of three Kestrels were hunting over the heather then a fantastic female Peregrine buzzed me along the clifftop then returned for another look. Offshore 40+ Northern Gannets were feeding.

Butterflies and other insects were out in force including several Graylings, Gatekeeper, Red Admiral and many Small Tortoiseshells.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Painted Lady

Yesterday we enjoyed some rather wet and windy summer weather -  a strong SE with heavy rain showers. I decided to check Pwllheli harbour and arrived as the tide was dropping during late afternoon.

It was good to bump into and put a face to a name in the shape of blog reader Dave Elmley who was checking the waders on the Cob before the increasing torrential rain drove both of us away. I went around to the large shelter on the north side of the harbour and waited to see what would appear.

Waders were the main attraction, comprising: 31 Oystercatcher, 181 Great Ringed Plover, 2 Knot, 2 Turnstone, 9 Dunlin, 2 Common Sandpiper, 61 Redshank, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and 8 Curlew.

This morning the wind was in the north and I hit Porth Meudwy for a couple of hours. I might as well have stayed at home with very little avian activity although some nice butterflies included an immaculate Painted Lady (seen v few this year), Red Admirals, a blue spp, some Walls and a Speckled Wood.

Small numbers of phylloscopus warblers included a couple of Willow Warblers and 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrests were calling and just two Blackcaps were noted. Small numbers of alba wagtails seemed to be on the move and a few hirundines. A flock of 12 distant presumed Golden Plover flew high to the south but there was very little else to report.

With the wind easing and some welcome broken sunshine later I decided to head for the harbour again and managed just an hour here as the tide began dropping early evening. Fantastic views at point-blank range are guaranteed here as the mud is exposed and the flocks arrive to feed!

Total counts were: 35 Oystercatcher, 119 Great Ringed Plover, 2 Knot, 3 Turnstone, 20 Dunlin, 52 Redshank, 1 Bar-tailed Godwits and 7 Curlew.

Again I was left wondering - what passes through here undetected!? At times like this I wish we had a few more active birders in the area.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Guided Walk - Bird Watching on Lleyn

I'm leading a guided walk for the wonderful North Wales Wildlife Trust in a couple of weeks time. Thought I'd give some advance notice for anyone who's interested.

We're meeting by the War Memorial on Pwllheli Cob at 10 am on Saturday 1st September. The intention is to do some birding around the harbour then share lifts up to Rhiw for a walk around the village, probably near Plas-yn-Rhiw. We may well have another look in the harbour on the way back. Finish time 5 pm at the latest.

Bring lunch, binoculars, telescopes, suitable clothing and footwear as some of the paths may be a little muddy. Everyone welcome!

Sunday, 19 August 2012


No, I'm not talking about the funny long wellies you wear to go fishing in or nightclubbing (yes, I have seen it with my own eyes... many years ago in a rather dodgy establishment in Sheffield...) I am talking about shorebirds dudes.

Specifically Ringed Plovers (or whatever they're called these days) marching across the mud in Pwllheli. I counted at least 245 of them which is a personal site record.

Also here were 35+ Dunlin, a cracking summer-plumage Bar-tailed Godwit that looked like it had flown straight out of a Lars Johnsson painting, Common Sandpiper, 60 Redshank, 13 Curlew, 46 Oystercatcher, a couple of Ruddy Turnstone and 4 Sanderling. Plus a few other bits and pieces. It was certainly worth the hobble around the harbour, which has gone up a gear as the back pain seems to be easing.

Spurred on by this unprecedented bit of patch birding I had an early dinner then wandered down the treacherous muddy path by Tre-heli Farm to Porth Neigwl. The target species was Med' Gull but I was disappointed to find the only laridae were literally miles away along the beach and dropping on the sea to roost. With the light fading I only managed to pick up a couple of adults and a 1st winter and with virtually no other birds on the beach  I headed back.

With little wind, a cloudy sky and high temperatures it was rather sticky going - certainly not a night to be wearing waders!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Dark Green Fritillary

One of these beauties sped past through the yard this afternoon where I had hobbled out (back still knackered) after another misty morning. They really can accelerate!

A (family?) party of five Red-billed Chough wheeled over Mynydd y Graig later on while I soaked up the sunshine, something severely lacking this year.

The young Common Buzzard continues to vocalise incessantly. It's a really pale thing - very white underparts. I really should get around to digi-scoping it if I can stand it anymore (yes, I hear you laughing - you don't follow this blog for the photos). Will try not to throw any rocks in it's direction first. Noisy bugger! Plenty of rabbits in the fields around here, surely it will learn to feed itself soon?

Friday, 17 August 2012


Crikey... how time flies! Since my last post, and despite getting out fairly often between the showers I've been been rather slack at updating this site - hope to remedy that in future, if there are any readers left!?

You'll find a few short missives if you follow my Twitter feed.

Rhiw has been cloaked in thick mist today with some heavy downpours off a strong SSW wind and I've been stuck inside most of the time with a knackered back. Maybe the yoga session the other night in the village hall was a bit extreme. I am trying to get prepared for the autumn migrant hunting extravaganza where crouching under bushes in strange positions, breathing steadily and awaiting the next avian excitement, while maintining concentration and blood pressure levels as the rarities turn up at sites all around my own patch exerts special demands on the birding body.

Already feels autumnal as the nights draw in rapidly and the grasses fade. Bird-wise it's quiet around the village with many passerines presumably moulting after the breeding season. Young Buzzards are constantly begging for food and one of the adults obliged yesterday by flying over the garden dangling a huge Rabbit between it's legs.

I see that the big shearwaters have been and gone past Cornwall and southern Eire recently. Shame we get so few up here - apparently even Pembrokeshire has only managed 15 Great Shearwaters in a day despite years of observations from the shelter at Strumble Head. I intend to reach Porth Ysgaden soon. I've had a couple of Cory's there in the past but something different would be rather nice...

Anyway, until next time - Good Birding!