Saturday, 31 March 2012

Northerly winds put pay to rush of birds.

The last two mornings have been bleak and cold with very few migrants. Star bird today (Saturday) was a dashing male Merlin over the limestones with a small trickle of Siskins, Redpolls and other finches kept the interest going. It looks as if the next week will be hard going with a cold northerly airflow looking set to stay until Easter weekend.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Willow Warbler arrives in full song.

The lovely sound of a singing Willow Warbler greeted me on arrival in the Churchyard today. A showy bird was present in the hawthorns at the back. Five Chiffchaff and two Goldfinch also present. Quiet otherwise with a small finch movement including 40+ Lesser Redpools, 5 Siskin, 20+ Chaffinch and 25+ Goldfinch. Linnets are moving through too with 15+ birds. A showy Raven, 2 Chough and a Kestrel entertained while 2 Mistle thrushes were down by the reservoir - they didn't have rings on so were different birds from last week.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Redpoll movement begins in earnest.

It always gives me a buzz seeing something slightly or subtely different. After watching many Lesser Redpolls on the Orme already this past few weeks, this morning saw a big increase in the number of Redpolls over. I managed to tempt some 50+ birds down into the hawthorns with the iPhone, with many more passing overhead. The bird above appeared with one group - paler than accompanying Lessers, nice white rump with white tramlines up the back, a white disk around the cheek, white vent and undertail coverts with a few dark streaks, much less buffiness on the whole, all just about visible in the one picture I managed to grab of it before in continued North West - surely a Mealy? Another was caught on Hilbre today - not a million miles away as the crow flies - pics of that one here -
Amazingly just 2 Siskins were involved in the movement; a huge reduction. Other birds seen this morning included a cracking male House Sparrow which accompanied a group of 6 Chaffinches. Sparrows are a good bird on the Orme away from the town border areas. Spring is certainly the best time to see them, but even then only a handful of birds are seen each year (possibly less records than Mealy Redpolls!). A Wheatear, 5 Goldcrests, 2 Chough and a Peregrine made up the best of the rest.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Going North, Arriving from South!

This morning saw a wonderful sunrise with calm sunny conditions. Isle of Man (picture above), Lake District and Liverpool were all visible with the naked eye! A female Black Redstart was by the cairn, using the wall as cover, while a male and female Ring Ouzel were extremely mobile, ranging all ove rthe pavements and were seen on and off for an hour prior to 8am. Three Redwings were the highlight for me, allowing great views as they sat on the pavements - true migrants looking shattered from their journey. From what i can see they are Scandinavian birds (good to know we've got two types to look out form know as I'm sure Icelandic birds turn up too). Goldcrest numbers had decreased with only 4-5 present, with two Chiffchaffs still in the hawthorns. Redpolls were still on the move with 40+ birds moving through with 10 or so Siskin. A few Woodpigeon and Magpies were on the move too. Shame I had to leave for work soon after 8am!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Great Orme Bird Obs opens!

Today saw the first ringing session at the Churchyard. Rob Sandham and Kelvin Jones have cleared an area of ferns and can now easily erect mistnets. This mornings going was slow but the potential was certainly there to see. By 9.30a.m. they ahd caught Goldcrest, 2 Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and a Chaffinch.
No sign of last nights Short eared Owl seen coming in off the sea by Rob Hughes (dodgy pic below). Not as many birds today although a male Ring Ouzel brightened up proceedings being seen by the dung heap and then in the hawthorns (dodgy picture below). Plenty of Redpoll were on the move with 80+ birds, many using the hawthorns to rest, a single Crossbill calling, 20+ Siskin, 5 Chiffchaff and 20+ Goldcrests. Coal Tit was also present as well as 100+ Meadow Pipit, 12 Pied Wagtails and 43 Woodpigeon through.

Rob Hughes' dodgy picture of a Short-eared Owl which came in off the sea last night - a sgreat sight.

Stonechats are busy nestbuilding on the limestones.

80+ Lesser Redpoll were seen in various sized groups. Only a matter of time before the first Mealie I hope.

A distant dodgy picture of today's Ouzel - can you spot it?

No Willow Warblers yet, but plenty of Chiffchaff about, including some singing birds.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Black Redstart steals the show.

What a superb morning on the Great Orme this morning. An influx of birders too with eight present during the morning. Pride of place went to a superb male Black Redstart that was picked up by Alan in the sheep Fields. It then flew over towards the wall and gave good views to everybody present, and was still showing at 10am at least. The male Ring Ouzel showed well early morning in the corner of the sheep field below the cairn. However, later on it became elusive and disappeared. Many birds were on the move with 5+ Wheatears dotted around, while Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs were in good numbers - 25+ Goldcrest and 7 Chiffchaff being a conservative estimate. Pied Wagtails were very much in evidence with at least 20 birds present, seven of these at first light in the northern car park. A single Golden Plover called hauntingly overhead, while other migrants included 2 Mistle Thrush, Coal Tit, 3 Blue Tit, 20+ Woodpigeon and 6 Magpies. Finches were again on bthe move with a definite increase in Redpoll numbers with at least 15 birds through, some stopping to refuel. 40+ Siskins were seen and heard with several small flocks, including a flock of 16 passing through. Hundreds of Meadow Pipits on the move too with a conservative estimate of 250 birds on the headland. A good start to spring!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Ring Ouzel arrives

Pied Wags have been a feature of the past few weeks. Hopefully a few White Wags will join them soon. This one was in the churchyard this evening.

The first Lesser Redpoll 'on the deck' of the year was in the hawthorns early morning.

These eight Choughs were presumably passage birds, flying high west late afternoon.

I always get a rush when the first Ouzel arrives back.
A lovely still morning on the Great Orme today. Highlight was undoubtedly a fine male Ring Ouzel in the gorse at the north end. I had walked passed the bush and hadn't seen the bird, but luckily as I drove past it two minutes later it popped out onto the path for a minute or two before giving me a flyby, calling loudly. Apparently there were two this afternoon! At least seven Wheatears were logged today, five on the limestones and two in the Churchyard. Two Chiffchaff were singing in the churchyard this evening. Small numbers of Goldcrests were still moving through with at least eight at the north end, while 40+ Siskins also moved through (along with 5 Redpoll (including one in the hawthorns). Other notable counts were 20+ Woodpigeon, 8 Chough moving high west (so therefore not thought to be the resident birds) and 12 Magpies.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Easterlies produce a bit of drift migration

The most notworthy event of the day was a big arrival of Goldcrests. At least 25 were dotted around the limestone pavements prior to 8.15am with the movement continuing throughout the morning. Rob Sandham and Chris Bridge were out early with a spring trap and managed to catch a fine male Wheatear as well as a male Stonechat. The Wheatear was one of two present. Siskins continued to move thropugh in good numbers with 50+ bird along with 2 Crossbills, 5 Redpoll and other finches. A female Bullfinch was the surprise of the day; a good bird over the north end of the limestones. A single Chiff chaff was in gorse while six Chough entertained in the early morning light - four resident birds and a couple of strangers. Alan Davies, Rob and Chris kept the count going through the morning , long after I'd left and came up with a couple of Golden Plover, White Wagtail, 2 Sand Martin and a Black Guillemot.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Visible Migration pics up

Following yesterday's quiet morning - 4 Wheatears and 9 Siskin, today was a bit more like it. Eight Wheatears was a maximum for the year so far, as was the 100+ Siskin that passed over head in the first hour and a half. The first two Redpoll of the year moved through with a trickle of Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Greenfinch. Fifteen 'alba' Wagtails were frustraitingly too high to pick out any whites. Four Woodpigeon, 3 Reed Buntings and 2 Goldcrests were also present along with some 50 or so Meadow Pipits.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Sunshine, Wheatears and Snow Bunting - March 18th

Five fine male Wheatears stole the show this morning on the limestone pavements. Bright sunshine and a brisk wind meant that visible migration didn't particularly get going. However, four Crossbill passed overhead along with a trickle of Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Siskin. 12 Woodpigeon flew north, while the haunting call of two northbound Curlew peirced the air. Later in the morning Alan Davies scored with a Snow Bunting while a Blacl Guillemot on the sea was well picked out amongst the hundreds in not thousands of Auks offshore. A White Wagtail was the first of the spring, feeding above the cemetery, while 20+ 'alba' Wagtails flew west overhead. Several Gannets fed offshore, while Chough, Peregrine and Sparrowhawk were all in evidence. A single Great cretsed Grebe off the Old Cafe was also noteorthy.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Crossbills, Crests, Rock Pipits and Fulmars

Rob Sandham was on the Orme early morning and was rewarded with 12 Crossbills over the cemetery. He also noted another arrival of Goldcrests with 20+ birds in the bushes behind the cemetery. There was also birds in the hawthorns later on in the day, with 15+ birds dotted around. Rock Pipits were showing well around Marine Drive, while Fulmars were making a right racket from the cliffs and giving spectacular fly-bys from above. There are at least seven Stonechat pairs at the north end, with others around the summit and down in the gun site - what a fantastic turnaround since from the last couple of year which had nearly decimated them following the severe winters. 3 Chough were good to see as well as 5 Buzzards overhead.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Heulfre Gardens - the underwatched Orme.

Two singing Chiffchaff along Heulfre Gardens tyhis afternoon as well as a pair of Long tailed Tits nest building. Lots of activity with Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker both good Orme birds for the year. This side of the Orme is very underwatched and I bet loads goes missing here in during migration.

More Wheatears and a trickle of migrants

Five male Wheatears were on the Great Orme early morning, although theyr all seemed to move on pretty quickly. A single Reed Bunting was my first up here for the year, while a strange movement of Magpies consisted of at least 25 birds passing through. Some birds stayed in ones and twos, however the groups of 9 and 7 passed straight overhead and towards Anglesey. At least 6 pairs of Stonechats are on the limestones this year, while Meadow Pipits were in full display with 50+ birds present. Small numbers of Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Siskins passed overhead while at least 5 Gannet were offshore. Kittiwakes and Auks are well and truly back on the breeding cliffs. A singled Mistle Thrush, several Blackbirds and 4 Song Thrushes were present and presumed migrants, as were the 6-7 Goldcrests dotted around. A strange record was 60+ Common Teal on the sea below the west cliffs.

Friday, 16 March 2012

First real migrants arrive today.

It's spring at last! A lovely morning on the Great Orme today saw the first arrival of Wheatears. Three cracking males and a female were on the limestones. Overhead, a Snow Bunting called and continued north while at least 35 'alba' Wagtails were on the move. A few Chaffinches and Greenfinches were present along with 10+ Siskin in two groups. Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Stonechats were all busy setting up territory along with three very noisy Chough. Hopefully a sign of things to come.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The 2012 Orme Season Starts!

An enjoyable few hours on the Great orme this morning produced a trickle of hoped for migrants. Grounded birds included 2 Fieldfare and a handful of Goldcrests. Overhead 30+ Siskin flew through with one flock of 16 low over the heather. Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and Chaffinches were also moving through in small numbers. There was also a strange movement of 20+ Magpies with one flock of containing 12 birds. Chough, Peregrine, Stonechat and Skylark all present, while seabird numbers were good with hundreds of Auks, Kittiwakes and a few Gannets offshore,