Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Autumn update 2012

Sorry for the complete lack of updates for the Autumn - a disgrace I know. I have been posting on the We Bird North Wales web-site but have decided to put the most informative Orme postigs here for reference. Last year I managed 125 species on the Orme with 4 new birds for the patch - Quail, Little Ringed Plover, Greenish Warbler and Red backed Shrike. I also mssied a few goodies with Yellow browed warbler and Woodchat Shrike turning up on days I was away. I think some 131 birds were recorded over the year.

With taking part in the Patch challenge this year I hope to keep this blog up to date. If anyone else wants to contribute with orme sightings please let me know and I can arrange for you to have access.
Keep up to date with the patch challenge here -

August 24th, 2012
This morning was quiet on the Orme with very few mogrants at all. However, a cracking juvenile Golden Plover was sholwing superbly on the limestones. The bird has been present for around eight days and you virtually have to tread on it before you see it.

The past week (per Rob Sandham and Pete Alderson) has seen 2 juv Whinchat, up to 3 Spotted Flycatchers and good numbers of Willow Warblers moving through. Notable today was an increase of Meadow Pipits with at least two flocks of 40+ present.

August 25th, 2012
Highlight on the Orme this morning was a lovely juvenile Whinchat that sat around the thistles with a Stonechat. 10+ Willow Waeblers were scattered around the headland gorse bushes with a few seen coming in off the sea. 3 Whimbrel called as they flew over and a Little egret flying along the cliffs was a bizarre sight. 2 Whitethroats were behind the cemetery (per Pete Ald).
August 26th, 2012
A strange morning on the Orme really, but a memorable one! The first hour was grim with not a passerine in sight. 2 Arctic Skua and a handful of Manx Shearwaters were the only birds of note. Rob Sandham and Kelvin Jones were ringing down in the cemetery so I went and joined them. Not five minutes later, 2 cracking sparrowhawks - a 1st year male and a 2nd year female hit the nets and the next quarter of an hour we were treated to two superb Sparrowhawks in the hand.

After that excitement, Rob pointed out a flycatcher at the back of the cemetery and as we both watched it, it dawned on us that this was no Spotted Flycatcher - it was a cracking juvenile Red-backed Shrike! The bird showed quite well for ten minutes or so before flying over the top of the cemetery and off towards the sheep fields. I managed a few dodgy pics before it disappeared:-

Funnily enough, about an hour later I picked the bird up again, some half a mile from the cemetery, sitting on fence posts in the sheep fields. The local Meadow Pipits soon put pay to that and off it continued west. Best of the rest included the first Yellow Wagtail of the autumn over, Goldcrest and a Grey Wagtail. The R B Shrike is the strangely the first record for the Great Orme, with 3 Woodchats, 3 Great Grey and an Isabelline already on the list. Lesser Grey, Brown, Long-tailed or Masked anyone?
August 28th, 2012
Got a real adrenaline rush this morning. I met up with Karl Lawson for an early morning jaunt around the limestones. 2 Wheatear, a Swift and Grey Wagtail were a good sign that a few things were on the move. As we reached the hawthorns we were greeted by the sight of Pete Alderson running up the track towards us - he had seen a bright warbler fly over his head and into a bush. We waited for ten minutes with no sight or sound of anything and began to talk about moving on. Suddenly the bright warbler darted out and disappeared low into the next hawthorn - this looked interesting. As we waited a Willow Warbler and Goldrest appeared, but perseverance paid off when the bird in question popped out to the top of the bush- a small bright warbler with a square peaked forehead revealing a cracking supercilium and best of all a nice bright wingbar! A few expletives were heard as Pete and I locked onto it at the same time. A few minutes later the bird was watched again in the base of a bush, revealing the pale above the upper mandible, making the supercilium appear as it it went all around the front of the head - quite distinctive. The bird then played cat and mouse as it crept around in the bushes making its way from bush to bush along the wall, calling just once - a characteristic ' chii-vee'. Over the next few minutes several Willow Warblers, a Chiff-chaff and Goldcrest all moved along the hedgeline, making their way towards the churchyard (birders arriving later reported some Warblers dropping in and disappearing high to the south).
Unfortunately at the time of writing the bird had not been seen again. Fingers crossed it's lurking somewhere.

September 9th, 2012

After a fairly quiet week on the Orme a few bits and pieces this morning. Highlights were an imm/ fem Black Redstart on by the limestone carpark, a Common Crossbill (see below for sonogram), 2 Snipe (+ another 2 different birds seen by Pete Alderson), 4 Blackcaps, an influx of 10+ Goldcrest, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Overhead were 5 'alba' Wagtails and 4 Grey Wagtails, while 50-60 Meadow Pipits were present. A nice flock of 10 Chough were also present with another 3 seen at the opposite end of the headland. Offshore, 45 Common Scoter flew east while 2 Grey Heron flew west.
Sonogram of a Common Crossbill over the Great Orme this morning. Referring to the Sound Approach book, this is a classic 'Glip' Crossbill due to the V shape in the graph.Click on the image for a clearer picture. There are a number of different Crossbill vocals and possibly indicate different sub-species or even species! A good introduction here -

Best bird of the morning and one of the last I saw as I arrived back at the car. A good case of keep going. After being out for over four hours and seeing very little to be honest this was a welcome find - a fine imm / female type Black Redstart. It was immediately mobbed by the Meadow Pipits and disappeared down towards the Rest and be Thankful cafe.
At least five Northern Wheatears present, looking very fresh and smart .
There is a large flock of Goldfinches near the churchyard at present with some 200 birds present. Fingers crossed it pulls in a goodie ove rthe next few months.

October 2nd, 2012

Despite the "wrong winds" the Great Orme still produced some great birds today. Pete A had a Firecrest in the garden below the cemetry early morning. Raplph M had a juv or female Red backed Shrike in the bushes at back of cemetry early afternoon. No sign of either bird later in the afternoon but a Redstart below cemetry.

October 6th, 2012

A pleasant walk around the Great Orme this morning started off quietly until a nice Lapland Bunting gave some nice flight views on the limestone pavements continually calling. As the morning wore on more birds started to appear with a sprinkling of migrants - female Redstart in the cemetery, Whinchat on the limestones, 4 Crossbill overhead (which were earlier in the pines in the cemetery), Garden Warbler at the back of the cemetery, Wheatear (J Wheldrake), Merlin and late morning the Black Redstart reappeared in the fenced off area at the north end (P.Alderson)
This female type Redstart has been in the cemetery for nearly a week now.
This fine autumn Whinchat has also been around for a week on the limestones.
Good passage of Goldcrests this week with several moving through.
Tits have been on the move with good numbers of Great, Blue, Coal and Long tailed tit during the week. This Great tit was at the north end with the Whinchat.
Lapland Bunting sonogram. Click for larger image. The 'peeuu' on 11.5sec and 16, while the trill is on 13.5.
October 14th, 2012
A productive morning on the Great orme today with some good birds, good views and a bit of a social occasion with good numbers of birders too.

A Richard's Pipit was picked up by Steve Culley and Tony White mod morning over the limestones and was later head calling along the northern edge. Five Lapland Buntings showed well at times. The three birds from yesterday were showing from dawn and another two flew in off the sea before hooking up with the original three. These were proving quite popular amongst visiting birders. A superb Short eared Owl appeared late morning during a rain shower, being mobbed by a throng of Jackdaws. A smart female Merlin darted along the Marine Drive at sunrise. Migrant numbers were as follows:-
Brambling 3, Goldcrest 20+, Long tailed Tit, 12, Coal Tit 7, Great Tit 10+, Blue Tit 15+, Black cap 1, Redwing 2, Pied Wagtail 3, House Sparrow 15+, Greenfinch 150+, Chaffinch 50+, Siskin 5, Lesser Redpoll 4, Great Spotted Woodpecker 3, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch 30+, Robin 10+, Blackbird 7, Song thrush 5, Jay 1 and Magpie 20+.

The Lapland Bunting are showing superbly with up to 5 on the limestones by mid-day. There will be much better pics than these..........

Common Migrants were on the move with good numbers of Tits. Long tailed Tits were on the limestones in the gorse and hawthorns - a sure sign that stuff is on the move.

A smart Short eared Owl appeared in a rain shower, not really knowing what to do it circled the pavements at some height before drifting west.
A pod of 30+ Bottle nosed Dolphins entertained offshore - a great spectacle.

Unidentified Bird of Prey! This got birders going big style. Alex's voice increased in pitch by at least 2 octives as he shouted the bird. Stve will have better pics. 6 primaries, broad tail band, barred underwings. Any takers?
October 12th, 2012 part 2 by Steve Culley
Me and Tony headed over to the Orme this morning as Robin had invited us over to see the rare Sibe he was going to catch at his new ringing station at the back of the cemetery. Two female Bramblings showed well in the bushes plus a few Redwings and lots of common finches.The ringing was a bit quiet but we did get fantastic views of Wren in the hand.As my Ritilin started to wear off we headed over to the Limestone pavement. The bunts were initially somewhat elusive but we did have a very vocal Richards Pipit flying over our heads around the end of the Orme but we never saw it land. After a while Robin and Kel called it a day and we all tried again for the Lap Bunts which had reappeared around the Limestone Pavement giving great views.A Short eared Owl appeared getting mobbed by the local Jackdaws.Then a dodgy propeller driven raptor appeared overhead, causing a bit of excitement and mirth for Marc and young Alex!
October 21st, 2012
A first for me this morning - Lapland, Snow and Reed Bunting in the same scope view - hatrick! A lovely morning weather wise on the Great Orme was livened up by a few good birds. A few early morning migrants were immediately evident - a Brambling and 10 Great Tits on show at the north end before sunsise. The Lapland Buntings soon gave themselves up in the usual place, with at least three birds present. While watching them with Alan Davies, a Richard's Pipit announced its presence with its loud 'shreeep' calls. Unfortunately, despite being heard a few times again, it didn't give itself up. Later in the morning a fine male Snow Bunting appeared alongside the Laplands; surely just in. Two Redwings were in the gorse, 5+ Goldcrest, 12 Great Tit, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 20+ Brambling, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 19 Skylarks and a good passage of 25+ Coal Tits during the morning. Chris had a Ring Ouzel above Llys Helyg drive too.

This fine male Snow Bunting appeared mid morning alongside the Lapland Buntings. At one point they flew into the air calling and were joined by a Reed Bunting; a nice hatrick of Great Orme buntings.

The Lapland Buntings are drawing good numbers of visitors from across the North West. With a little patience they give good views. Up to seven have been seen during the past week, with three birds staying faithful to a small area just south of the northern cairn on the limestones.

There has been an excellent movement of Coal Tits on the Orme over the past fortnight with sometimes upwards of 60 birds moving through. All I have seen so far have had lovely white cheek patches, like this one above taken this morning at the most northern gorse bush on the head land. Surely there is an outside chance of a 'hibernicus' Coal Tit from Ireland joining up with them. The Isles of Scilly have recorded birds that recall 'hibernicus' already thsi autumn. However, I'm not aware of any proven records in Wales. The bird below was on the Mullet, County Mayo and the buffy / off white cheek patches can clearly be seen. Now there's a challenge for any west coast vis-migger.

Coal Tit - coutersy of Dave Sudderby, Mullet, County Mayo, October 2012. Follow him on twitter @davesudds62

November 11th, 2012

As Julian has said - at least 45 Waxwings in and around B&Q this morning and seeminly more and more dropping in as the time went on. Superb watching the general public getting involved and enjoying the spectacle too. There's also another 10 in Conwy Road. The Invasion has started! NB 200+ recorded this afternoon!

November 18th, 2012
A small number of birds still moving over the Great Orme this morning- a single Lapland Bunting gave good flight views over the churchyard before pitching down in the sheep fields. A male Snow Bunting was in the small quarry above the lighthouse on the limestones, while a few Brambling, Reed Bunting and Siskin flew west amongst the Chaffinches. 2 Woodcock were a nice surprise, flushing from the bracken above the churchyard.
A look for Waxwings in Llandudno finally paid off early afternoon with a group of 12 near the hospital. Later, Pete Alderson had 17 by Liddell Park, Craig y Don.
Off Llysfaen, two drake Surf Scoters showed in the perfect sunlight, while 8 Velvet Scoter were also amongst the thousands of Common Scoters.
Not a bad morning all in all.