Sunday, 8 May 2011

Quality not Quantity

After yesterday's deluge of birds, this morning was much quieter. However, with patience and persistance birds appeared. Undoubted highlight was a Wood Warbler in a small gorse bush on the limestone pavements - an Orme mega. To put it in perspective, I have seen more Short-toed Larks and Woodchat Shrikes on the Orme than Wood Warbler! The last being several year's ago near the reservoir. The bird showed for a few minutes after a shower alongside a few Willow warbler, brought down by a heavy shower soon after 9am.

Other notable birds included a fine Cuckoo near Pink Farm (above), 5 White Wagtails at the north end (brought down by the same heavy shower), 2 Sedge Warblers near the Old Cafe, one Yellow Wagtail over, 5 Tree Pipits, 2 Swifts and a steady passage of Hirundines. Other birders also recorded Whinchat, Ring Ouzel and Grasshopper warbler. Not bad for a 'quiet' morning!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

May 7th - Dotterel highlight

I had to be in mid-Wales early this morning, so it was left to others to patch the Orme. Alan Davies of the 'Biggest Twitch' reports -

Up the Great Orme before 6am and it calm and mild, had rained over night so hopes were high with a southerly airflow. Parking above the cemetry I headed for the limestone pavement, following the wall.

A few Wheatears moved ahead of me and small numers of Siskin and Redpoll headed north overhead. A Garden Warbler was in the hawthorns along with a Sedge Warbler and a scatter of Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff.

Reaching the pavement I walked across to the area above the lighthouse, two Ring Ouzel shot across in front of me! Luckily they landed near the concrete road. Near the car park I met Ivan and got him on the Ouzels and we watched them a Short eared Owl floated over the gorse and rocks mobbed by Jackdaws, a lovely bird, very pale.

I headed back to the wall, fly over Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipits. Just before the valley, near hamburger rock, a female Pied Flyctacher was in the hawthorns, rare bird here. Dave Nivert and friend arrived and Ivan joined us to see the flycatcher. I continued on my way and soon heard a Dotterel calling and it swept over heading for the pavements! I legged it back and was glad that the others had picked it up.

At the cemetry Spotted Flycatcher and by the car a cracking male Whinchat, a great morning in the "back garden"!

Friday, 6 May 2011

May 5th - Work sending me Cuckoo!

First bird of the day was a superb Cuckoo in the gorse at the north end before flying over the limestones to the wall area. Cuckoo is less than annual up here so it was a great way to start the day. There was a good feel to the morning and the first couple of hours of light produced a Garden Warbler in the Hawthorns, a gorse bush Lesser Whitethroat that got the pulse racing, 5+ Yellow Wagtails, 7+ Tree Pipits, 5 Willow Warbler, Chiff Chaff and 20+ Wheatear. Hirundines were constantly on the move with several hundred on the move.Amongst them were at least ten Swifts. A Robin in the furthest gorse bush was unusual and must have been a bird on the move. Unfortunately work called and I had to leave a promising Orme soon after 8am.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Cormorant Spectacular!

Each year, both Ormes are lucky to have many breeding Cormorants and Shags. The spectacle on the Little Orme can be quite something as they leave and arrive at their cliff roost sites each evening and morning. At this time of year there is another impressive spectacle - the gathering of nesting material from the roadside fields. A big thank you to Mr Gareth Pritchard who lives overlooking the spectacular Little Orme cliffs and captured the event on camra. One Cormorant even mis-judged its landing and ended up in the road outside Gareth's house! He reports that up to a hundred Cormorants circle above the fields and they swoop down in groups of about a dozen at a time to collect he nesting material. The wonders of bird behaviour....! Diolch Gareth.

Black Red sex?

Less birds on the Orme today despite the torrential downpour late afternoon. This morning produced great views of 3 Yellow Wagtails, all males, while 6 Tree Pipits buzzed overhead too. 25+ Wheatears were still present while a single Sedge Warbler was in the churchyard this evening. The Black Redstart was very obliging and showed well along the wall. Although put out as a female Black Redstart initially, could it be a very dull 1st summer male? Do females show such an obvious pale panel on the tertials. I'd be inetersted to hear your thoughts - any ringers out there got a spring trap handy?
Hirundines were on the move all day, with many moving through after the 4pm heavy shower. Mostly Swallows but several of both Martin species amongst them.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Less birds but still variety - May 4th

The female Black Redstart was still present along the wall and showed well as it fed by dropping down from the wall onto the path to feed on some big fat juicy grubs. Ather birds included 5 Whinchats, 6 Tree Pipits, Yellow Wagtail, 2 Sedge Warblers in the gorse, Grasshopper Warbler in the further gorse bush at the north end, 25+ Wheatear, 15+ Willow Warbler, Chiff-chaff, Blackcap and Whitethroat. With the wind turning SE overnight and some rain over the next few days, it could be exciting!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Migrants continue to arrive on the east wind - May 3rd

Another good morning on the Orme - these eastelies are certainly starting to kick in. I only managed to do the limestone pavements as today was back to work day. Totals prior to 8.15am included - female Black Redstart, 7 Whinchats (6 males!), 5 Yellow Wagtails (including 3 on the ground), 3 Tree pipits, singing Lesser Whitethroat, 30+ Willow Warblers, 50+ Wheatears with many arriving as I left. 7 summer plumaged Dunlin were also unusual. Let's hope it continues!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Late news May 2nd

Late news - additional to the birds below were two Spotted flycatchers in a small copse behind the farm east of St Tudnos Well this morning. There were also two Whinchat and a female Redstart in this area, plus a Grasshopper Warbler opposite the car park above the church. All in all... a good day! (thanks for news Jonathon)

Easterly winds finally produce a Great orme fall of migrants!

With reports of 60+ Willow Warblers ringed prior to 9am on Hilbre, 16+ Whinchats at Point of Air and Montague's Harrier at South Stack - it seems like there was a fall of migrants along the coast during he night. Despite the strong easterly wind which made birding quite tricky, a good number of birds were present on the Great Orme.

Pride of place went to the first Black Redstart of the year, which fed in the hawthorns and along the path by the wall. Three very smart male Yellow Wagtals flew east, low along teh wall at 6.30am. 3 Whincchats were dotted around the limestones, a Grasshopper warbler in the Gulley, Lesser Whitethroat at Powell's well and a supporting cast of Common Redtsart, Whitethraots, Blackcaps, 20+ Wheatear, 3 Swift and a constant trickle of House Martin, Swallow and Sand Martins. 50+ Willow Warbler was a conservative estimate, with most gorse bushes and hawthorns containing birds. In fact, I sat in one spot for 20 minutes and had 12 birds fly east along the heather, showing that they were constantly on the move.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Willow chiff Warbler chaff - mixed singer?

A phyllosc was singing along Millionnaire's Row, Great Orme this morning and although obviously a Willow Warbler it kept throwing Chiff-chaff bits in. It looked like and was a Willow warbler.
There is a recording here -

Try to ignore the noisy Blackcap. The chiff chaff bits can be heard at the end of the first and second Willow Warler phrase, while in the third Willow warbler phrase, it sings a couple of chiff-chaffs in the middle.
Here is a sonogram showing where it sings it. I've pointed the red arrow to the Chiff-chaff bits, and the blue lines generally show the Willow warbler phrase - the rest is Blackcap, Gulls, an easterly wind and me breathing noise. Is this is what is classed as a mixed singer?

Click on sonogram for larger image.

Easterlies slow down migration.

It's been hard work on the Orme over the past five days with just a trickle of migrants. The cold brisk easterlies and bright sunshine have put pay to any falls of migrants. Bits and Bobs have been seen though with 2 Ring Ouzels present on Friday 29th, 2 Yellow Wagtails today, May 1st, a singing Lesser whitethroat, a Swift (30th) amongst a stead passage of all 3 hirundines, a female Merlin (28th and 30th) up to 4 Crossbills around the cemetery, around 15-20 Wheatears a day, small numbers of Tree Pipits and a trickle of phylloscs. Today (May 1st) saw an interesting arrival mid morning with a male Blackcap, Whitethroat and 3 Willow warbler in the furthest gorse bush at the north end - evidence things are still on the move and it's cetainly not ime to give up yet.

Mammal highlight was a white ferret found in a bramble bush by the churchyard. Cute but not sure what impact it will be having on the local wildlife!

Pics above - the Ferret, a Greenland Wheatear along the wall - typical view of this species, a nice male Crossbill and a morning scene at the Cemetery.