Monday, 31 October 2011

Early morning Swift causes panic!

A Swift located by Pete Alderson soon after 8am understandibly caused his heart rate to quicken. The bird was flying above the cemetery and against the grey sky was difficult to make out as anything other than a silhouette. Other birders were quickly on the scene and Alan Davies duly picked the bird up flying over the fields to the east of the old cafe. The bird was at eye level and made some very close fly byes. Most factors, including weather and date pointed to the bird being a Pallid, but unfortunately however hard the observers tried, the Swift showed all the plumage characteristics of Common Swift. This must be the latest record of Common Swift for the headland and certainly shows that any 'late' Swift doesn't necessarily have to be a Pallid. Oh well, perhaps next time!
Only other birds of note today were a few Crossbills overhead.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Water Rail - 3rd Great Orme record!

The strange sonogram of the Great Orme Water Rail call. Recorded with Remembird and sonogram created with Raven Lite 1.0
A total of six hours spent on the headland today taking advantage of the extra hour of light inthe morning. It was good to welcome mid-Wales birder Paul Leafe up there today and he didn't let me down, calling a Lapland Buning as it flew in with a few Meadow Pipits along the eastern edge of the headland. The bird called several times and showed overhead before continuing south. No sightings of the Snow Buntings today, hwoever at least one bird was heard calling over the sheep fields so could still be around. A female / imm Merlin showed well on a couple of occasions, once near the 5 barred gate and the other by Pink Farm.
At least seven Crossbills were logged along with two early morning Bramblings. Four Bullfich, 7 Mistle Thrushes, 5 Redwing, 3 Coal Tot, 2 Chiff-Chaffs, 6 Goldcrest and a flock of 11 Long tailed Tits meant that there was always something to look at. A nice flock of 5 Lesser Redpoll and several small groups of Siskin were intermingled with the Chaffinches and Greenfinch passing over.
Highlight was the third known Great Orme record of Water Rail (only the second alive bird) that was calling from the old reservoir. It called twice this morning and was at it again this afternoon, making a right racket.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

More Snow Bunts - up in twos!

Another two Snow Buntings joined the four present yesterday. They are showing well in the same area as the pair have for the past week or so - by the cairn on the limestone pavements. Other migrants today included 2 Brambling, 2 Fieldfare, 3 Goldrests and a few Redwing, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes. Rather blustery and wet up there today.
The pictures above were taken by Pete Latham.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Snow Bunts save the day

Four Snow Buntings are showing well by the cairn this morning. A quiet coupkle of days really, with only Treecreeper, 4 Bullfinch, Brambling, 10 Crossbill and a female / imm Merlin being of note.
Thrushes have been plentiful with 10+ Mistle Thrushes and and plenty of Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds on the headland.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Another good morning - October 26th

Another good morning on the Great Orme. A total of seven birders were on the headland at dawn and this was reflected in the number of birds seen. The Richard's pipit was still present in the sheep fields, while two Black Redstarts were new in. One was near the limestone carpark (PA) and another in the cemetery (AD). The two Snow Buntings continued to show very well near the cairn. A nice selection of buntings produced at least one Yellowhammer along the wall, a good bird here as well as at least 6 Reed Buntings. Seven Bramblings were noted amongst the small passage of finches, while 10 Crossbills passed over head. Four Wheatears were dotted around the pavements, while a Golden Plover and two Snipe represented the waders. A female Merlin hunted a Goldfinch along the cliffs (PA).

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Dick pipit still but the Orme mega gets away

Gutted! A Marsh / Willow Tit - an Orme first popped out of a gorsebush in front of me thsi morning and flew high to he east with 3 Coal Tits and 6 Blue Tits. I would have thought it was probably a Marsh Tit,but with no call and a 0.5 second view I couldn't be certain. Not to worry, other birds included the Richard's pipit over the cemetery at first light (AD), 2 Snow Buntings at the cairn, a Yellowhammer over, 25 Crossbills including 2 at Llys Helg Drive in the pines, 6 Bullfinch 9including a fine male in the north end gorse bush and 5 hardy Wheatears. 10 + Goldcrests , a few Redwing and 250+ Starlings also on the move.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Weekend Roundup

Birds recorded on or over the headland during the past week have included the following:-

Ring Ouzel - one on the gunsite on 22/10 (JW)

Snow Bunting - 2 on 22/10 and a single seen several times during the preceeding week.

Merlin - one fem / imm on 22/10

Crossbills - many over - max 59 on 20/10 with beween 9 and 25 seen evey other day.

Brambling max 20 on 22/10

Good numbers of finches with 1000+ Chaffinches and 200+ Greeninches on both 21/10 and 22/10.

Little Orme records

Black Redsart near the summit on 21/10 (PA)

Snow Bunting - one above Angel Bay on 23/10 (PA)

Pomerine Skua and 2 Arctic Skua on 19/10

juv Common Tern between the two Ormes on 23/10

Richard's pipit, Woodlark and Snow Bunts

Above Sound analysis of Richard's Pipit calls. Call can be heard here -

Quality sure made up for quantity on the Great Orme this morning. As I arrived a single Reed Bunting dropped into the gorse at the north end - a promising start. Soon after that, two Tree Sparrows, my first of the autumn, flew over head amongst a small but steady passage of finches. The odd Brambling, Redpoll and Siskin amongst them too. Two Snow Buntings and four Wheatears were at the cairn, a nice mix of summer and winter meeting. A familiar yet unusual call had me straining my ears and as it got closer my suspiscions that a Woodlark was around was confirmed, its beautiful yodelling call echoing across the limestone pavements. I picked the bird up flying in from the north and making its way south towards the summit. Its stubby short tail and broad wings giving it a unique appearance as it continued its journey. A single Snipe and a couple of Goldcrest were grounded as were a small number of Redwing and a single Mistle Thrush. As I was returning to the car and chatting to Pete Alderson, a Richard's Pipit gave away its presence by call and flying past us with four Meadow pipits, landing by the small hill to the east of the car part. A quick walk in that direction and the bird was seen at close quarters before flying off back to the sheep fields crying out its loud 'sschreeep' call. All in all not a bad morning.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Bluetail - 40 miles to the east, Pallas's warbler - 40 miles to the west - oh well you can't win them, all!
A great feel on the Orme this monring with many birds grounded around the cemetery at first lght. 50+ Blackbird, 20+ Song Thrush, 20+ Redwing and 2 Fieldfare was the first significant arrival of thrushes. Finches were everywhere including 10 Lesser Redpoll, 6 Bullfinch and 20+ Siskin amongst the hundreds of Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinches. At least 50 Crossbill were counted this morning, including some 15 in the pines in the cemetery. A 'grey' Chiff-chaff near the Old Cafe was certainly one of the eastern forms, probably 'abientinus' but might just have been a 'tristis', unfortunately it did not call and quickly moved into dense cover. Along towards Powell's well a fine male Firecrest was present early morning (also seen midday), while the limestones held at least 5 Snow Buntings. A fine imm / fem Merlin showed well , while 7 Chough and great views of hunting Peregrine were to be had. This morning certainly had a good feel about it and even though we didn't score with the megas to the left and right of us, there was plenty to keep birders entertained.

The near miss! Hilbre was visible all morning and I'd just talked to Steve Williams on the phone talking about which one of us was going to nail the mega. Well done to Steve and the Hilbre lads - well deserved.

The goats were just too pretty not to take a photo of - they still stunk though!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Birds at last - autmun finally kicks off

What a great morning on the Great Orme - perfectly still, bright sunshine and birds on the move.

A Richard's Pipit showed well by the car park at 8.45am, coming in off the sea and landing by the enclosure, before being driven off by Meadow Pipits. It was last seen flying down towards the Marine Drive. At least one Lapland Bunting was hanging around and was even seen on the ground by the small quarry. Two Snow Buntings flew over early morning, and one of these or a different bird showed well at the cairn late morning. Two White fronted Geese flew in off the sea (Pete A), while a Short eared Owl was also seen mid morning. Finches were constantly on the move, with Chaffinch, Greenfinch, siskin and Goldfinch on the move and a few Reed bunting wisth them too. Two Brambling and an impressive 60+ Crossbills were also amongst them.

This week has seen a trickle of birds through the Orme with a single Snow Bunting on wednesday afternoon and a Firecrest on Tuesday. The decent passage of Crossbill has continued with up to 26 seen each day. A fine flock of 25 Chough was present yesterday and are presumed part of the 'super' flock that has been seen on Conwy Mountain this past week.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Seabirds make up for lack of passerine migration

Passerines have been almost non-existent this week with only a small but regular passage of Crossbills evident. Between 2 and 27 have been seen each day this week with 16 in the pines in the cemetery yesterday. The odd Chiff-chaff, Gioldcrest and Blackcap have been the only grounded birds while the Dotterel was last seen at lunchtime on Friday.
Seabirds on the other hand have been good with Friday being the best day. Records from the Little Orme and slightly further west at Rhos Point (which means the birds pass the Little Orme a couple of mnutes later) were as follows:-
2 Sabine's gulls
2 Long tailed Skuas (juv
3 Pomerine Skuas
15+ Leach's Petrels
Slavonian Grebe
Grey Phalarope
8 Bonxie
5 Arctic Skua
30+ Pale bellied Brent Geese
6 Bottle nosed Dolphins.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Dotterel adds interest to a quiet week

The fantastic weather did little to hot up the bird action on the Orme this week. Fortunately the Dotterel enjoyed the sunshine as is still present this weekend having given great views since Tuesday morning. 2 Spotted Flycatchers have been the highlight of the week, while Crossbill on Thursday and 2 today were also noteworthy. Visible Migration has been visrtualy non exsistent apart from a few finches, however things were a little better today - 3 Reed Bunting, Snipe, 3 Coal Tit and 20+ Siskin joined he small groups of Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinches. 20+ Goldcrests werepresent today along with 2 Blackcap, 2 Chiff-chaff and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.