Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Weekend catch-up

A bit of a slow down on the Great orme this weekend, with cold easterlies taking over. I've been away so I've had to rely on other birders sightings for news. (read about my Ceredigion easter weekend here - Highlight were 2 Red kites over the churchyard area on Saturday. A couple of Ring Ouzels remained until Sunday, while Grasshopper warblers were seen Saturday and Monday. A Merlin has been frequenting the headland, wile Yellow Wagilas peaked at four on Friday morning, with singles seen every day from Thurs until Monday. Small numbers of Tree Pipits have been continuing to pass overhead - with totals Thurs to Wed reading 4,3,8,5, 2,0 and 4. One Whinchat on the Gun site on Friday, while Wheatears peaked at 60+ on Friday with smaller numbers on other days. Good numbers of Whitethroats continue to arrive and Siskins and Redpolls move overhead. Offshore good numbers of Common Scoter have been passing east, while Sandwhich Tern numbers peaked at 24 on Wednesday. Early Purple Orchids are now in flower on the limestone pavements adding a splash of colour.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Gull puzzle ????

A flock of large gulls are congregating in the fields at Penrhyn Bay at the moment with up to 400 birds roosting over high tide in the fields opposite the golf course. Yestreday two birds had me puzzled as they stood out from the usual 'argenteus' Herrings and Lesser black backed.

Both showed features associated with Caspian, but also showed features that aren't. Any opinions would be appreciated.

More Dotterels - best year ever?

Dawn saw another flock of Dotterel at the cairn on the limestone pavements. This time four birds popped their heads over the ridge before flying down the slope towards the gunsite. I'm pretty sure they settled in this area as they certainly didn't fly off high. This flock added to others seen this year, totals fourteen birds - surely the best year ever for this species here. Other migrants this morning included a female Common Redstart, the poorly marked Ring Ouzel in it's usual hawthorn, 2 White Wagtails, a Yellow Wagtail, 12 Tree Pipits amd 50+ Wheatears.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Migrant rush continues - April 20th

The flood of migrants continues on the Great Orme with a good number of species seen again early morning. A 1st year female Ring Ouzel along the wall (photo above - surely the most poorly marked bird ever!), a Short eared Owl in off the sea (Alan Davies), Grasshopper Warbler, Whinchat, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Whitethraot, Redpolls and Siskins, 40+ Wheatear, 7 Willow Warblers, Blackcap and highlight of the morning -4 House Sparrows, a limestone pavement mega! An Osprey was over the Little Orme at 10.10am before heading east.
Some birds are settling down to breed, with Stonechat, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Linnet (photo above) and Wheatear all on territory. It's difficult to know how many are migrants and how many are breeders at this time of year as all the above species are also still passing through.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Woodlark wonder morning!

Top left - male Whinchat, first of the year. Top right - nominate male Wheatear, compare with yesterday's 'Greenland' type bird. Bottom left- a sonogram image of a recording of this morning's Woodlark using remembird device (notice the yodeling series of notes on 5 seconds and 13 senconds). Bottom right - a strange Woodpigeon movement going on - 30 birds flying high west.

What a great morning, one of those you just don't want to end. Star bird was a super Woodlark that flew low along the northern edge and out eas over the churchyard, uttering it's call constantly as it disappeared into the distance. Loads of migrants were on the headland, including a flyover Dotterel (A Davies) and another 3 probables (Pete Alderson), 2 Whinchats, one near the gully and one near the Churchyard (PA), a male Ring ouzel (P and J Kennerley) and a female (AD), 3 Yellow Wagtails, 25+ Tree Pipits, singing male Redstart above ski Slope, Lesser Whitethroat (PA), Sedge Warbler, Grasshopper warbler, one at the Old Cafe and one at the north end gorse (P + JK), 80+ Wheatears (including 50+ that arrived mid morning), 50+ Woodpigeon, 50+ Lesser Redpoll, Reed Bunting and 20+ Willow Wabler dotted around. The first Whimbrel for the Orme this year also whistled away as it flew north. I wish every day was like this!

* Evening update - A female Osprey flew over Llandudno late afternoon and headed off north over the Great Orme (AD) while two Ring Ouzels wee still present above the gun-site.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Dotterel Delight!

There were some superb Geenland Wheatears on show this mornng - real peachy breasted beasts and browny feathering in the mantle - they almost look a different species to our nominate form.

Peregrine attack and superb sunrise from this morning.

The brisk South easterly winds did not disappoint this morning. You know ou are in for a good morning when the first birds you hear are a group of Tree Pipits overhead at dawn. Not long after the spectacular sunrise came the highlight when a calling Golden Plover unsettled a group of 8 Dotterel which were resting on the limetones. They called several times, lifted, circled the headland and continued on after the Goldie heading north. It was over all too soon. Other migrant totals were Yellow Wagtail, 15+ Tree pipits (including a displaying pair behind the cemetery), whiethroat, Brambling, 100+ Lesser Redpolls, 20+ Goldfinhc, 20+ Swallow and a lone Sand Martin. 40+ Wheatear were made up mostly of Greenland birds, including some real beats. 10+ Woodpigeon and 4 Collared Dove flew through too.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Weekend update

Lesser Redpolls are still moving through in reasonable numbers as are Greenland type Wheatears. A bit of a catch up as I've been away for a few days. Thursday - 10+ Tree Pipits over, 30+ Wheatears on the limestones and a small passage of Redpolls. Friday - male Ring Ouzel above Anglesey road, 4 Tree Pipits and 30+ Wheatears. Saturday - 34 Wheatears and 2 Common Whitethroats. Sunday - 20+ Wheatears, good passage of Meadow Pipits, 1 Tree Pipit and small numbers of Redpolls.

Monday, 11 April 2011

'Northwestern Redpoll? ...and today's news

This bird stood out a mile yesterday - it was dark, streaky and big! Thanks to Rob Dowley who forwarded the 2nd two images of the possible Greenland Redpoll. From this you can see the large, bull necked appearance of the bird and the structure was more like a Chaffinches than a Redpoll.

There has never been a record of 'rostrata' in Wales, so it would be good to get opinions form people as to whether this bird has the right credentials. Initial feedbak from birders who live and bird in the Outer Hebs, or have seen them on Shetland has been good.
As for today's news, very few migrants, although the Dotterel was still present and an Osprey flew along Craigside and over the Little Orme at 7.20am.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

White under tail coverts?

I now think that there were two pale Redpolls photographed this morning which confused matters. The first one's pictures are shownbelow - a nice pale Mealy. However, the above bird is different and is more confusing. At the time all present commenetd on the seemingly pure white under tail coverts, a feature one of the above photos seems to confirm. It also looks a lot cuter, with a punched in bill. Unfortunately the pictures aren't the best. Any comments on any of today's Redpolls would be much appreciated. Even more pictures here -

More Great Orme Redpoll pics

Here are a few more pictures of this morning's extremely pale Redpoll taken by Rob Sandham.

A few birders have got back to me regarding the large darker bird seen this morning - looking good that it's a North western Redpoll - 'rostrata'.

Red Rumped Swallow still

Red Eumped Swallow reported flying south over limestones at 2.58pm. Dipped again! This morning's sunrise was phenomenal on the Orme, a goospimple moment - pic by Rob Sandham

Best spring day ever on the Orme?

Was this morning the best early spring birding session ever on the orme? If not, it's not far off. Dotterel, Short eared Owl, 2 summer plumaged Lapland Buntings, 2 Yellow wagtails, 2 Tree Pipits, 2 Ring Ouzel, Common redstart, Whitethroat, Grasshopper warbler, Garden Warbler, 6 Blackcap, 50+ Wheatear, 9 Golden Plover, Brambling, 2 Crossbill, 15+ Willow warbler, 10+ Chiff chaff. Wow!

Chris Bridge and Zac Hinchcliffe got a Red Rumped Swallow flying over the limestones too!

Throw into the mix the 3-400 Redpolls that flew over. Many birds landed too which contained some interesting birds - four or five as 'classic' as you can get Mealies were seen, as well as this extremely pale bird. Arctic was mooted as it had a white rump, very white tram lines and white under tail coverts. However, is it butch enough? Is the bill as punched in as it should be (looks ok in some pics but not in others)? Are there too many streaks and buff on the breast flanks?

The second bird was hudge - a monster of a bird (top bird here) . Big and dark with an extensive black face mask - could this be 'rostrata'? One bird from a group of Redpolls containing this bird, uttered a deeper sounding ''. I'm pretty sure it was the above bird.

Very interested in people's opinions.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Dotterel still present

The Dotterel is still present this evening and showing very well around the limestone pavements. Thanks to Mike Nesbitt for the photo above. See Rob Sandham's pictures here -

As Rob and Mike have testified the bird will walk towards you if you keep your distance. No need to chase it aound to get a few feet closer like some 'big lens' photographers have apparently been doing!

More like May!

There was a Dotterel by the cairn on the limestone pavements this morning. The bird was flighty early a.m., but soon settled on the short grass near the cairn and was extremely confiding and even ran towards me to a distance of 10 yards at one stage. The bird was still present at 9.40am at least. Other highlights included a Mealy Redpoll which alighted briefly on the wall with 7 Lesser Redpoll. Redpoll passage was excellent with 300+ birds flying west and some groups of up to 70! Another highlight was a stonking full summer plumaged 'northern' Golden Plover. Three male Ring Ouzels showed well at the norh end and over 50 Wheatears were present including several Greenland birds. Two flavissima Yellow Wagtails joined the constant westward movement of Meadow pipits, as did three Tree Pipits. The churchyard held 2 Crossbill, 5 Blackcap and over 20 Willow Warbler were on the headland. Sounds a bit more like May doesn't it?!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Twite brighten up a misty morning

My first ever Great Orme Twite cetainly made the early morning worth while. My heart sunk when I saw the mist shrouded headland at first light, but luckily the northern edge remained mist free. A constant stream of birds passed below the Old Cafe area between 6.45 and 8.30am. Highlight was certainly the 12 Twite than flew below me at close range - buzzing, chirping and wheezing away and showing their lovely rosy rumps and they flew west. Although not an Orme first, they were a long overdue Orme tick for me. 3 Crossbill, 12+ Redpoll, 10+ Siskin, 3 Tree Pipits, 150+ Meadow Pipits and 7 Swallows also joined the westward passage. Grounded birds included 3 Blackcap, 2 willow warblers, 2 Chiff-chaff and 3 Wheatears. On the sea there were a feeding flock of 30+ Gannets just offshore.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Migrants roll in.

Wheatear on Gun site by Rob Hughes. News from Rob Hughes - sounds like a cracking morning! Loads of migrants on/over the gunsite this morning. In 2 hours I had a Fem Ring Ouzel on the hill, Lapland Bunting over the North end, Fem Merlin in off the sea, seen twice, 3 Tree Pipits over with c210 Meadows, 3 Wheatear, Male Stonechat (poss continental with its white rump), 32 Swallow, 2 Redpoll sp, c40 Goldfinch, c40 Greenfinch, 12 Siskin, 9 Linnet, 5 Chiffchaff, 4 Willow Warbler, Blackcap, 'alba' Wagtail and 20 Wood Pigeon. Out to sea 7 Sandwich Tern, 23 Common Scoter, 6 Gannet and 18 Kittiwake.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Spring movement continues.

It was quality rather than quantity today on the Great orme. Early morning revealed that the vast majority of Wheatears had moved on this morning with only 20 or so individuals remaining. However, patience was rewarded and over the next three hours good birds kept popping up. At least two female Ring Ouzels were present, one early morning in the gorse at the north end, and later two females together feeding in the grass near the rest and be thankful cafe before flying onto the cliffs above the lighthouse. Two cracking Crossbills fed in the churchyard before fling off west, as did the three Bramblings in the Hawthorns here. Two of the Bramblings were superb summer males. Best of the rest included a Stock Dove, Golden Plover, 4 White Wagtails, just two Chiff-chaff, small numbers of all three hirundine species, Coal Tit, Redpolls and Siskins. A large movement of Meadow Pipits must have exceeded 500 birds as they seemed to be on the move all morning.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

First fall of the Spring

70+ Northern Wheatears littered the Great Orme today, with the total number probably being many more. A few obvious Greenland race birds were also amongst them. Pride of place went to a cracking male Redstart seen at mid-day along the hawthorns and still there around 3.30pm. At least five House Martins moved through along with many Swallows and a few Sand Martins. The first Tree Pipit of the year 'buzzed' overhead but could not be seen, while Meadow pipit numbers were well into the 100's. Five Willow Warblers and a few Chiff-chaff were also present. 2 Sandwhich Terns fed offshore.