Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Warbler Rush

Autumn migration got underway today with 40-50 Willow Warblers around the headland - great to see. Most bushes held at least one bird with a concentration of 15-20 birds at the bottom of the concrete road. 2 Spotted Flycatchers were along the stone wall while a lovely summer plumaged Golden Plover was in the sheep fields.

Limestone gorse bushes held good numbers of Willow Warblers today

 2 Spotted Flycatchers were on the move
Some Willow Warblers shoed very well feeding out in the low gorse.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Going Cuckoo for a Courser!

Walking around the Orme in a state of disbelief this morning having received a text about the Hereford Cream Coloured Courser at 4am, I was brought to my senses by a singing Cuckoo. The bird showed well around the cemetery. Pete Alderson had another two birds in the limestone area, meaning there had been an influx of cuckoos overnight. 20+ Redpolls, Tree Pipit, Lesser Whitethroat and a handfull of Phylloscs were present too. Saying that, I may well have missed something as my mind was elsewhere........

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Bleak morning brightened up by Short eared Owl

This morning was pretty bleak, cold and wet and I was about to give up when a super Short eared Owl was flushed from the enclosed grassy field above the cemetery giving some nice fly-bys. This field has had some Tree Pipits in over the past few weeks so I hoped over the gate to see how many I could find. It was a nice surprise that the first bird out of the grass was this lovely Owl. It was later seen at the north end. My latest spring Shortie on the Orme by a few weeks. Lesser Whitethroat and Tree Pipit the only other birds of note. Last night Wendy Mcarthy had a singing Cuckoo behind the cemetery. Excellent stuff!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Spot Fly fall.

12+ Spotted Flycatchers on the Orme this afternoon, the first of the year and the best numbers for a few years. 4 in the cemetery area, 4 along Powell's Well walk to Pink Farm and another 4 at Maes y Facrell (per Wendy Mcarthy). 2 Garden Warbler were near Powell's Well too. Pete Alderson had a Whinchat on the limestones while Wendy Mcarthy had Redstart at Maes y Facrell. Plenty of Wheatears about with Redpoll, Siskin and a single Crossbill over too.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mealy Mêlée - Redpolls everywhere today

Excellent numbers of Redpolls over and on the Great orme this morning. I counted at least 400 birds through, which must have been a fraction of what flew over. At least two fairly standard Mealies were seen - white rumps, tramlines, cheek disks etc, while a number of birds were Redpolls that certanly weren't from around here. My guess is they are from somewhere North West of here - hebridies, Iceland? who knows. Other migrants included two lesser Whitethroats, a Tree Pipit, 40+ Siskin, 13 Collared Doves and 30+ Greenland Wheatear. A Golden Plover called from the fields (Pete Alderson had five Plover - either Golden or Dotterel fly from the fields too). Two male Peregrines gave a fantastic arial display when one wandered into the resident pairs territory.
A nice small Lesser Redpoll - a typical Welsh breeding bird
A large pale Redpoll - presumably a Mealy - it's rump and back had a lot of white.
A large Redpoll with a lot of white in the back. Warm brown tones were replaced by darker tones. Note the butch looking expression.
Two Redpolls seen very early on. For a start not many Redpoll make landfall on the actual limestone pavements but today a few did using anything as a perch. Note the butch appearance, darker tones and the white face disks. The front bird also had a lot of white in the back.
Collared Doves on the move today - 13 logged.
Lots of Greenfinches are breeding in the gorse.
I've never known such a good year for Lesser Whitethroats. They are in full song around the cemetery and one was showing on the limestone pavements today!
What a fantastic display by the Peregrines today - this male saw off another male and engaged in aerial battle - once he saw him off he sat overlooking his kingdom with pride.
Siskins were involved in the Redpoll movement today, but in much smaller numbers.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Nant y Gama

A walk on the limestone area between the two Ormes - Nant y gama this afternoon produced a nice selection of birds - Blackcaps, Common Whitethroats, Long tailed Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Buzzard and Nuthatch all holding terretory or breeding. Early Purple Orchids very much in evidence as they are on both Ormes. Two Greenland Wheatears on the tops too.

Cuckoos, Whinchats and Redstart - May 12th, 2012

Today's North Westerlies didn't bode well on arrival with a quiet, cold Orme at first light. However, with a bit of patience a few bits and pieces showed. Highlight was a couple of Cuckoos flying around. One on the southern end above Bishop's Quarry and the other above the cemetery. As ever, they were flighty and elusive but did give a couple of nice flybys. Two Whinchat showed well, a male and a female, while a single male Redstart sang near in the copper mines. Best of the rest were a Yellow wagtail, Tree Pipit, 50+ Wheatear, 4 Lesser Whitethroat (including a pair copulating!), 2 Whitethraot, 5+ Willow Warblers, Blackcap and a steady passage of hirundines and 4 Swift. A single Shelduck took advantage of a bathe in the pools created by the recent deluge of rain - a few have been flying around the limestones recently, but this is the firstI've seen on the ground for a while. Chris had 5 Crossbill over, while Pete Alderson had 2 White Wagtail.
A lone Shelduck in the fields had a bathe and a preen before flying off.
This showy male Whinchat was by the dung heap and flew on and off the wall.
Same Whinchat in a more usual pose.
This beautiful male Redstart sang its head off from deep down within the Copper Mine basin.
A Cuckoo - honest! Two birds today included a typical grey bird and one that had rusty tones to it (but not quite the hepatic form).

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Pied Flycatcher tops the migrant list

Pete Alderson had a super male Pied Flycatcher was on the headland this morning between the farm and the pavements. Four Whinchats was an increase on recent days, while 2 Redstarts were still present. Plenty of Wheatears still present and Redpolls still on the move.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Bank Holiday Migrant Day - SE winds produce.

A night of South Easterly winds meant that there were plenty of birds on the Great Orme this morning. The majority of birds seemed to favour the limestone areas and good numbers of common migrants were seeking shelter from the brisk wind. Three Redstarts were seen, 2 males and a female including a showy bird on the limestones feeding out in the open. A cracking male Whinchat below the cairn was welcome as they have been thin on the ground this year. Five Yellow wagtails, three over and two superb males present - by the churchyard and along the northern edge. 15+ Tree Pipits were present, with a few groups of birds. Five together landed close by after flying in off the sea, including this one photographed below. Six Crossbills were overhead, while Redpoll numbers were up - 250+ birds through. Unfortunately the brisk wind made the iPod usless today for bringing birds down. Pete Alderson had two Mealies in with a flock of 50+ birds that landed on the hawthorns. Three Whitethroats were along the wall along with a grounded Blackcap and a few Willow Warblers. Two Lesser Whitethroats continued to sing near Powell's Well. Siskins, Goldfinches and all three hirundines were also on the move. 70+ Wheatears were present early on, but almost all had moved on as the appraoching rain covered the headland by late morning. Two pairs of Black Guillemots were below the cliffs and were seen flying up to the cliffs - surely a sign that they are breeding here. All in all an enjoyable bank holiday morning.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

May 6th - Redpolls, Wheatears and Yellow Wags.

A beautiful morning on the headland this morning. Lots of birds about. Arriving soon after 6am the wind was cold and birds seemed thin on the ground. However, by 11am the place was full of Wheatears with over 100 scattered around the headland, with most being of the Greenland race. 3 Yellow Wagtails flew over, while 2 female Common Redstarts were grounded - one in the limestone hawthorns and another by Pink Farm. A Sedge warbler was in song by the Old cafe and a small fall of Blackcaps had occured with at least 10 males dotted around. Around 10 Willow Warblers included a bird that tried to land on me by the cairn - migration is just superb. A summer plumaged Dunlin pitched down by the cairn at 10.30am but soon moved on. Eight Tree Pipits flew over while a bird was prospecting near the Churchyard, where they have bred for the last few years. A good movement of finches included 50+ Redpolls, the vast majority being Lessers. However one bird was much paler. I would have happily called it a Mealy if it wasn't for the problems Bardsey have had with this type of bird this year. A Redpoll, but not from around here! 25+ Siskins, 20+ Goldfinch and a light passage of Swifts, Swallows and House Martins too. Over 50 Sandwhich Terns moved east offshore as well as 50+ Gannets involved in a feeding frenzy.
This Redpoll (above) was pale and slightly larger than the brown streaky looking birds we are used to seeing (like the oen below)
Swallows were moving through today and a few birds have settled to breed.
A good movement of Wheatears included some cracking Greenland birds like this amle above. Some of them posed superbly with several giving this upright stance like this female below.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Wood warbler at Heulfre Gardens

Wendy McCarthy, a renowned botanist and naturalist who lives on the Orme contacted me last night to say she had seen and heard a Wood Warbler in full song in Heulfre Gardens yesterday - excellent stuff. Only the third record I know of for the Orme. She also tipped me off to a singing Lesser Whitethroat at Powell's Well. I checked it out this morning and there were three singing in the area! Thanks Wendy and I appreciate the records.

Waking up to a Dotterel!

I arrived on the limestones at 5.30am just in time to see the sunrise and lone Swift flying east. Twenty minutes later and the call of a Dotterel well and truly woke me up. The bird landed briefly by the cairn before flying around me for a minute or two and heading off towards the summit. Certainly a case of the early birder getting the spoils! Although quite quiet this morning, the four hours spent up there produced a few bits and pieces - a Whinchat on the limestones and around 30 Greenland type Wheatears, 3 Lesser Whitethroats by Powell's Well, three Tree Pipits over and a lone Yellow Wagtail over west as I was enjoying a hard earned cup of coffe at the north end before leaving. Two Black Guillemots were also present off the gun-site. 5 Lesser redpolls, 7 Swifts, 5 Siskin, 5 'alba' Wagtails, 2 Blackcap, Whitethraot and a handful of Willow Warblers made up the best of the other migrants. Chough, Peregrine and Sparrowhawk were all good to see while the cliffs were alive with the sounds and sight of Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmar, Cormormants, Shags and Kittiwakes. The best pictures ever of Dotterel ;-/ ! And a showy female Greenalnd Wheatear waking up in the early morning sun.

Friday, 4 May 2012

May the Fourth be with you! It was to some extent - Bee-eater and the one that got away.

This morning on the Orme was a bit special. On getting out of the car a few Willow Warblers flitted around the gorse at the northern end - always a good sign. Suddenly an unusual call had me searching the misty clouds the above me - House Sparrow? Tree Sparrow? The bird then appeared out of the gloom above me - a large Pipit!! The whole time it was calling I felt uneasy - this didn't sound like Richard's Pipit but what else could it be? Tawny's call like Yellow Wags and this didn't. It flew East towards the cemetery and lost to view. I put the news out as a large Pipit sp, probably a Richard's. Upon returning work, I listened to Tawny pipit. Expecting to hear a Yellow wagtail like call, I suddenly had a sick gut feeling when I heard a call similar to a raspy harsh House Sparrow call. Oh dear! .......The one that got away. Continuing on a Grasshopper Warbler jumoed from heather clump to heather clump while 3 Sandwhich Terns appeared out of the mist over the Limestones - a strange sight. Greenland Wheatears were still evident and several Willow Warblers hopped around the hawthorns. Suddenly a bird called above, perhaps two. It got closer and closer and the familiar yet exciting sound was above me. Pete Alderson, some 400 yards away started waving madly and pointing to the sky, his animated posturing giving away his excitement. Above us somewhere in the mist as at least one, probably two Bee-eaters calling. The birds continuing south towards the summit high above us, but their calls echoing around the headland in the stillness of the morning. You could hear a pin drop up there this morning. A small group of Redpolls could be heard in the distance and quick blast of the iPod brought five birds into the Hawthorns. One nice pale bird was a good Mealy Redpoll candidate and was grilled by Pete and I - remincent of the birds seen on Bardsey recently. Not a clssic but certainly not a Welsh Lesser! A Tree Pipit and 2 Blackcpas made up the rest. Not a bad couple fo hours before work, despite being frustrating!!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

May 3rd - yesterday's leftovers

Birds left over from yestreday's fall on the limestones, and a few new individuals included - 1st summer male Common Redstart, Tree Pipits over, 20+ Greenland Wheatears, 2 Blackcaps in the northern end gorse and 5 Willow Warblers. A lot quieter today.
A 1st summer male Redstart today - in the gorse along the limestone wall.
A baby Chaffinch on the Gun Site chipping away - the call got me going for a bit!
Several cracking Greenland Wheatears still present - peachy underparts, brown in the back and the large size giving them away.