Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Pied wagtail movement..

As promised here is the map of the distance travelled by the little Pied wagtail..

All the way from Slapton ley in Devon to Abergele and Pensarn in North wales...

Quite a distance when you think about it ...

Many thanks to Kane Brides for providing me with this map..

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Yearlist 2010 update...

Bonaparte's gull

1. Red-throated diver, 2. Great-northern diver, 3. Slavonian grebe, 4. Black-necked grebe, 5. Little grebe, 6. Great-crested grebe, 7. Red-necked grebe, 8. Fulmar, 9. Gannet, 10. Cormorant, 11. Shag, 12. Little egret, 13. Grey heron, 14. Mute swan, 15. Whooper swan, 16. White-fronted goose, 17. Pink footed goose, 18. Greylag goose, 19. Canada goose, 20. Barnacle goose, 21. Snow goose, 22. Brent goose, 23. Shelduck, 24. Mallard, 25. Gadwall, 26. Pintail, 27. Shoveler, 28. Wigeon, 29. Teal, 30. Green-winged teal, 31. Pochard, 32. Scaup, 33. Tufted duck, 34. Ring-necked duck, 35. Eider, 36. Common scoter, 37. Velvet scoter, 38. Long-tailed duck, 39. Goldeneye, 40. Smew, 41. Goosander, 42. Red-breasted merganser, 43. Red kite, 44. Black kite, 45 Buzzard, 46. Sparrowhawk, 47. Goshawk, 48. Kestrel, 49. Peregrine falcon, 50. Merlin, 51. Grey partridge, 52. Pheasant, 53. Water rail, 54. Moorhen, 55. Coot, 56. Oystercatcher, 57. Ringed plover, 58. Grey plover, 59. Golden plover, 60. Lapwing, 61. Knot, 62. Sanderling, 63. Purple sandpiper, 64. Turnstone, 65. Dunlin, 66. Common sandpiper, 67. Redshank, 68. Greenshank, 69. Black-tailed godwit, 70. Bar-tailed godwit, 71. Curlew, 72. Woodcock, 73. Snipe, 74. Jack snipe, 75. Ruff, 76. Black-headed gull, 77. Bonaparte's gull, 78. Common gull, 79. Ring-billed gull, 80. Mediterranean gull, 81. Herring gull, 82. Lesser-Black-Backed gull, 83. Greater-Black-Backed gull, 84. Kittiwake, 85. Sandwich tern, 86. Forster's tern, 87. Black guillemot, 88. Guillemot, 89. Feral-pigeon, 90. Stock dove, 91. Woodpigeon, 92. Collard dove, 93. Tawny owl, 94. Short-eared owl, 95. Kingfisher, 96. Great-spotted woodpecker, 97. Green woodpecker, 98. Skylark, 99. Woodlark, 100. Shorelark, 101. Rock pipit, 102. Meadow pipit, 103. Pied wagtail, 104. Grey wagtail, 105. Wren, 106. Dipper, 107. Dunnock, 108. Robin, 109. Black redstart, 110. Stonechat, 111. Song thrush, 112. Mistle thrush, 113. Redwing, 114. Fieldfare, 115. Blackbird, 116. Black-throated thrush, 117. Goldcrest, 118. Blue tit, 119. Great tit, 120. Coal tit, 121. Marsh tit, 122. Long-tailed tit, 123. Bearded tit, 124. Nuthatch, 125. Treecreeper, 126. Magpie, 127. Jay, 128. Jackdaw, 129. Chough, 130. Rook, 131. Carrion crow, 132. Hooded crow, 133. Raven, 134. Starling, 135. Rose-coloured starling, 136. House sparrow, 137. Chaffinch, 138. Linnet, 139. Twite, 140. Lesser redpoll, 141. Goldfinch, 142. Greenfinch, 143. Siskin, 144. Bullfinch, 145. Hawfinch, 146. Reed bunting, 147. Snow bunting ...

Ring-necked duck

As you can see, the first 2 months of 2010 I have got off to a flying start, however, February is still not finished... I intend to finish on 170 by the end of February.. Next..ready and waiting for the spring migrants to arrive...

Also, just to let you know I shall be back up North on 26th February until 8th March.. So... I wonder I what I will be doing in that time..? Any guesses??

Monday, 22 February 2010

Nice Red-necked grebe but still surfless...

Another mad dash today from univeristy, resulted in my second Red-necked grebe of 2010. Having just finished lunch, a mate of mine; Rob hughes kindly sent me a text reading: ''Red-necked grebe off old Colwyn by Rainbow bridge and feeding fairly close in'' Ooo....

Off I went with the 1:07 train from Bangor and I was at Colwyn bay at 1:30pm - The trains around North wales come in pretty handy when it comes to birding.. Rob met me at the station and we headed for Rainbow bridge, a short walk revealed a choppy sea and lots of birdies....

Rob hadn't got long, but a quick scan revealed a probable bird, sat amongst a flock of 30 Great-crested grebes.. Rob had to go as he had football so he left me to it.. Soon after, another bird appeared infront of this flock and this bird stuck out like a sore thumb.. The bird we were watching turned about to be a normal Great-crest, whereas this bird was entirely different.. My second Red-necked grebe this year and about my 7th ever in Britain... Nice bird although albeit distant..

Not much else around.. Several Red-throated divers, Great crested grebes totaling a count of 100 or more!! R.B.Mergs, 5,000+ Common scoter and just one Velvet scoter in with them.. Were the surfs there, I will never know.. Today was the 5th time looking for the Surf scoters -will my sheer determination ever result in a view of these stunning birds??

Back in Bangor land for the warmth...

Maybe next time I will get a record shot of them to show you???

Surf scoter depression...

Being in univeristy all week, lectures most days from 9am -5pm.. The weekend is something I look forward to; as of course, it means only one thing - birding!!

Seeing as though I hadn't seen the Surf scoters yet, I decided to give it one last go and ventured out, back to Abergele and Pensarn for one last look.. At 9:30am, I met up with Jason stannage, John aitchison and Bones adderley from back home.. They had driven up from Liverpool in search of the scoters, however I did warn them that seeing them needed a miracle....

As usual, got the train from Bangor to Abergele and Pensarn and arrived around 9:30am.. Met up with Rob sandham - a cracking birder by the way and thanks to him, I managed to see Brown shrike and Eastern-crowned warbler! Then found the lads.. A scan out to sea revealed several Velvet scoters, with some in flocks of more than 10.. Great views were had with a few birds in flight and several could be picked out on the sea, showing big orange bills and even the white around the eye could be seen but only when the sun was in the correct position.. A drake Long-tailed duck was a nice surprise mixed in with the scoters.. Overall, 20+ Velvets were seen..

I'm sure this isn't my scope!! Boredom kicked in after 2 hours of scoterville!! Leica???

A passage of Red-throated divers was quite unexpected with 20+ birds flying in a line heading west towards Anglesey.. A couple of R.B.Mergs floated by and yet again no sign of the surfs.. A coffee and breakfast was in order and after gorging ourselves, we moved off in search of the Hawfinches at Llanbedr-y-cennin in the Conwy valley.. On arrival, there had been a significant
fall of snow overnight, with at least an inch of snow lying on the ground - which then had turned into ice.. A roundabout near Llandudno junction saw us driving round this several times and by the second drive round, Jason and I were in stitches as we couldn't stop laughing due to the turn-off we needed couldn't be found.... Bones kindly assisted with map-reading and in no time at all, we were in the Conwy valley - somewhere??

The roads were extremely icy, so we ended up getting lost..again and so I asked for directions to Llanbedr-y-cennin.. We eventually found the correct road, to find it covered in snow and lots of icy patches, the car's wheels skidded once or twice on the hills, but, when we reached the top.. well.... Our hearts were in our mouths as we hit the corner of the road, but thankfully, very little damage done.. Very slowly, we skidded on down reaching our destination..
A quick look in the small church at Llanbedr revealed no Hawfinches.. I left the lads and went for a walk, a few minutes later, found 3 birders looking at 3 Hawfinches, a quick phonecall to John saw us all watching these lovely, bulky finches.. They soon dispersed and we left them to it..
Next stop was Kinmel bay for the Snow buntings and a short walk along the beach towards the River Clywd mouth... Jason spotted them in flight and within minutes we were watching these much sought after classic, winter birds.... As you can see from the main picture of the blog, a cracking male was amongst them.. 3 Females too.. 4 Snow buntings seen in all...
It was then time to head back to land of Bangor.. John kindly dropped me off at the train station at Rhyl and managed to get back into Bangor at a respectable time of 6pm.. A good days birding, several yearticks for the lads, but just one for me and no surfs once again..

Many thanks to John for ferrying me around, Bones for the breakfast and Jason for his amusing trips and stumbles during the day, which provided me with several outbursts of laughter..

Yearlist 148!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Colour-ringed Pied wagtail success...

As most of you will have read, a few days ago, I mentioned about a colour-ringed Pied wagtail that I read at Abergele and Pensarn in North wales.. I also said that I would let you know if I found out where it was ringed - well I did..
I went back to Abergele and Pensarn yesterday in search of the Surf scoters but as usual still not seen them, yet!! Although 2 drake Long-tailed ducks and 18 Velvet scoters were nice!!

Anyway, I relocated the colour-ringed Pied wagtail as soon as arrived and took some pictures and you will be glad to know that they are tonnes better and the area where the bird was ringed has been confirmed..

The bird was ringed as a juvenile/1st winter male - {5} in ringing terms, on 14th November 2008 at Slapton ley in Devon!!!! What a fantastic movement for such a small bird.. A distance of over 300 miles!! Tomorrow I shall attach a map showing the distance this bird has travelled.. So check back again tomorrow and all will be revealed... Cheers
Right leg:- Orange over metal BTO ring...
Left leg:- White over 2 green rings...

Many thanks to Dennis Elphick, Iain Livingstone and Kane brides for their help with this matter..

Scan spectacular!!!

SCAN SPECTACULAR?? I can see many people reading this now thinking what on earth is SCAN? Well 'SCAN' is the Wader Ringing Group in North wales and of which I am highly involved in... This weekend just gone, {13th/14th February} was the last weekend of this year's first winter catching season.. The next SCAN weekend is in the beginning of September.. Anyway, the weekend just gone, was absolutely fantastic when it came to catching waders.. We really did end it with a bang as we managed to successfully catch 869 birds in just 4 catches...

The species caught were:
- Oystercatcher,
- Ringed plover,
- Redshank,
- Dunlin,
- Knot,
- Turnstone,
- Shelduck,
- Pintail,
- Wigeon,
I managed to ring just under 100 birds on the weekend bringing my total of birds ringed with Steve, to just under 400 now... Getting there slowly. . .

Friday night:
- Mist-netting at a place called wigg..
- Got back to bed at 2am!!

- Cannon-netting at Bangor harbour..
- 403 Dunlin caught..

Saturday night:
- Mist-netting at Llanfairfechan sewage works..
- Finished at 12pm and in bed at 1am!

- Shelduck/Male, {Pintail/Male - Ringing tick for Rachel}, {Wigeon/Male and Female - Ringing tick for myself - I ringed the female but lovely birds all the same.....

- Sunday: Cannon-netting at Beamauris..
- 150 or so caught,
- Consisting of Ringed plover and Turnstone,
Both birds were caught at 11pm that night so we were some what knackered by then..

Overall, a massive 869 birds were caught over the weekend and several people getting ringing ticks, e.g. myself and Rachel..

All that's left now are to show the pictures.. go on..gorge yourselves....

Conwy RSPB...

On Monday 15th Februay after a 2 hour long practical at uni.. I met up with Alex Jones and Stephen Menzie at RSPB Conwy near Llandudno Junction in North wales to discuss our trip to Spain at the end of March for 9 days birding - Mega!!

Having arrived at 1:30pm via train, I had a bit of time to spare before they arrived so did a bit of birding, but just with the bins this time and no scope..

Birds seen include: Lesser redpoll, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Blue, Great and Coal tit as well as a few Long-tailed tits.. Wren, Dunnock and Robin... Interestingly; a ringed Blackbird which was a juvenile and a ringed Robin.... Seeing as though no ringing takes place at the reserve, the closest ringer in North wales is Steve - my trainer... It would have been nice to read their rings but as you very well know, this could only be achieved by putting up a mist-net in the hope of catching them, no chance!! Still....where had they come from and where were they ringed??

A Water rail called and several Goldeneyes were out on the lagoon but very little else was about - extremely quite to be honest!!

Alex and Stephen arrived and we set off to one of the hides to discuss Spain..

- Flight times and dates,
- Accommodation,
- Travel,
- Birds expected to be seen - most important...

And a few other things were discussed....

Cheers for now..

Black Kite - Gigrin Farm!

I presume many of you know that there has been a juvenile Black Kite at Gigrin Farm in Powys for over 2 months now. This bird was once thought to be a juvenile Black-Eared Kite, but it was later confirmed to be a Black kite.

Anyway, as I needed Black Kite for my British list and it would make a great yeartick, I decided I would have an adventure and twitch the bird by train and taxi. Unbelievable I know, but if you ask me why I twitch birds or travel for 6 hours on a train just to see one bird in particular - I have no answer for you.

Bird in the top left hand corner is the Black Kite.

On the evening of Tuesday 9th January, I set about planning my route to Gigrin Farm. Train times etc and walking distances. After an hour or so, my plan for tomorrow was complete.

I was up at 5am and made sure I had some food inside me. I then went on to catch the 6:02am train from Bangor and got off at Shrewsbury at 8:09am. I then caught another train at 9:05am and got off at Llandrindod Wells in Powys at 10:33am. I bet your thinking I am mad aren't you? Having arrived at the closest location possible to the kite. I sat down in the train station and thought now what?! As it was only 10:30am and the bird shows at 2:00pm in the afternoon, what the hell am I going to do for 3 hours.
Having spoken to the chaps in the ticket office, they told me the direction in which I should walk towards Gigrin Farm. It was 11 miles and up hill quite alot. I was at first going to walk it but then thought otherwise. I ended up getting a taxi to Gigrin Farm arriving there at about 11:45am. On arrival it was absolutely f****** freezing and that I can tell you for definete! Proceeded up the hill to the farm and met this little old woman hanging out her washing - it turns out I had to pay her £4 to get in and view the kites. Well worth it if you ask me. The time now was 12:20 and I decided to have a walk around the woodland trail that they had set up for the visiting public. I have to be honest, it is nothing special and the only birds I saw on the walk were: Buzzard, Raven, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Rook, Treecreeper and not a single bluddy Red Kite! I had to say to myself, am I in the right place here? No Red kites?!

The time flew by and next thing I knew it was 1:30pm so I headed back on down the trail to be met by a car-park full of birders and photographers and a few screaming little kids. It then started to snow! Great! Will I get home again?

These folk that have set up this Red Kite feeding station put locally produced meat in a field where excellent viewing can be had. I set about getting myself set up on top of the hill in the fresh air and nothing to protect me from the biting wind or freezing weather. 6 layers on, a microfleece, vest, hoodie as thick as a sheep's wool, a coat, hat and gloves and then the overtrousers went on and I was toastie and warm, oh and the buff too. Tractor came down the track from behind me and entered the field below. Flung out the meat and within seconds, he had gone and the Kites had just started to swoop down and grab the meat with their talons and not one kite landed on the ground!

A total of 30 Buzzards, 6 Ravens, 50+ each of Carrion Crow and Rook with the odd Jackdaw and a flock of Pied Wagtails frequented the meat, unusual I know!! Anyway, back to the kites... There must have been at least 200+ Red Kites spread around this field and every where you looked there was a kite. I then had another scan through my bins at the feeding frenzie that was unfolding beneath me and a bird flew through my field of view and it wasn't right. I quickly found it again and low and behold, it was the BLACK KITE! Whoooooo! Mega! I watched this bird for about 20 mintues as it flew with the Red Kites and several times, coming down to feed but unfortunately the bird dissapeared and wasn't seen again for another hour and a half! Where the heck did it go? The chap who fed the kites with his tractor came over to me and said: ''Did you see the kite'' Oh yes was the reply. I was the only person sat on these chairs exposed to the elements and so I asked him: ''Do you have to pay to get in the hides?'' and he said no! I had sat out in the cold weather for over 2 hours now, freezing my arse off when I could have been sat in a nice warm hide, bluddy typical!

As you can guess, I vacated quite quickly to the hide and warmed up, but not by much as the hide was quite cold! The views from inside the hide were fantastic! Next minute I hear: ''Kites back''! and in it flew and stayed for another 25 minutes enabling me to get some extremely poor record shots! You can laugh at them later.
Having had crippling views of the Red Kites and Black Kite. I called it a day and tried to scrounge a lift off someone to very kindly give me a lift back to Llandrindod Wells. No joy and infact, I said to someone: ''I have a 11 mile walk ahead of me'' He said: ''Oh well, what a shame, it will warm you up'' I tell you, I felt like sending the guy to meet the floorboards beneath him but unfortunately this never happened. I just said thanks alot pal and walked out!

Anyway, I phoned a taxi and got back to Llandrindod Wells at about 5:00pm to find the next train back to Shrewsbury to be at 8:40pm! Argh! I could have sworn there was a train at 6pm something! Found a pub, chatted to the locals, had a few pints of guiness, scampi and chips and caught the train from Llandrindod Wells, arriving at Shrewsbury at 10:08pm. Then a train from Shrewsbury at 23:01pm and arrived at Crewe at 23:40pm! Left Crewe at 23:59pm and arrived in Bangor at exactly 2am! Short walk up 3 hills saw me zonked out on my bed at 2:30am and all I could see was kites flying round and didn't get to sleep til about 3am and was up at 6am to do my washing before my 9am lecture! Absolutely crazy I know!

Anyhow, it was an absolutely fantastic day and I would recommend visiting Gigrin Farm to anyone as it is a magical place, especially when the kites decide to show themselves, and boy did they! You can now have your laughs at the Black Kite pictures too. There are decent pictures of other birds, honest.

The feeding station at the farm held: Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blue, Great and Coal Tit as well as a pair of Nuthatch.

A leucistic Red Kite was also seen, very unusual to see. 2 Stock Dove also put in an appearance, putting my yearlist for 2010 on 147 and that is what it stands at now!

A cracking day out at Leighton Moss!

At the end of December 2009, I came to the decision that 2010 was going to be my last year of yearlisting and from then on, I would concentrate on building up my British list.

So on Tuesday 9th February it was my dad's birthday and seeing as though I wouldn't be able to see him on that day, I decided to get the train home on Friday 5th and spend the weekend with him instead. As usual, I had some great birding in store for him as well as a great day out. It was also a chance to bag up on some wanted birds at Leighton Moss.

Having promptly told my dad that we were going to Leighton Moss up near Silverdale near Morecame Bay on the Saturday, myself, dad and grandad left early on Saturday morning at 8:30am and headed north towards Leighton. Seeing as though I could potentially get more than half a dozen yearticks, this trip was going to be mega and it sure was too! Driving north, the temperature overnight had dropped to 1 degree or something ridiculous and throughout the journey, we ventured in and out of fog patches. Not nice driving conditions for my grandad though.

As it was my dad's birthday and he hadn't seen Hawfinch for several years now, we decided to call in at Sizergh by the cafe there and see if we could pin some down. On arriving in the car-park, not a single person to be seen. It was good in a way because the birds wouldn't have been disturbed! As soon as we all got out of the car, a familiar noise: ''tick, tick, tick''. We could hear this sound. A male Hawfinch then appeared behind us and sat on top of a tree for about 2 minutes. I was too late to get any close up shots but the bird did stick around for a good while and I managed to get a decent shot of one close by. We saw at least 4 birds in the space of half an hour. Mega birding. 1 down and 6 to go!

Snow Geese next and a quick stop on the top road near Warton Crag and walk along a small path revealed a view stretching right across to the Eric Morecambe hides. A quick scan with the bins revealed 4 white blobs in with the Greylags - Bingo! We enjoyed distant views but at least that was them on the yearlist! As my friend Ciaran Hatsell later informed me that night, that he had a Bean Goose and a White-fronted Goose in with them some 2 weeks back, I just hope my need for the Snow Geese didn't draw my attention away from missing the other 2 species of geese?! I will never know now, but I am sure to pick them up soon, especially Bean Goose as there are 2 down on Plex Moss back home, so I will hopefully get them as I am going home next Friday for a week as I have time off at university. A Marsh Tit was seen for a few minutes too. 3 down and 4 to go!!

It was then onto the grit trays down by the causeway for Bearded Tits. Would we see these stunning birds? I had promised my dad and grandad them today and they were not dissapointed! Although the views weren't the greatest, they both managed to catch sight of at least 2 Bearded Tits. As I had seen good views before them, I walked further along the causeway and one popped out on top of the reeds and so they got great views! 3 targets in the bag and 4 left! A Green Woodpecker called twice too and then a very brief flight view. 5 down and 2 to go!

As the stomachs began to rumble, we headed for the Eric Morecambe pools and nothing much to report there except a few Redshank, Little Egret and 2 Greenshanks, lots of waders at the far end of the pools but too distant to check. The fog rolled in again which didn't help matters! Lunch was a warm welcome and this was enjoyed as we had seen 4 out of my 7 targets for the day: Hawfinch, Snow Goose, Green Woodpecker and Bearded Tit!

Back to the main reserve and a quick stop in Lilian's hide where the Bittern had been showing well for the last few days. Did we see it you say? Oh yes, but unfortunately the chap to out right in the section where it sticks out (if you know where I mean) mumbled: ''Oh, there is a Bittern flying across there'' and that was it?! This guy expected someone to get onto this bird with those awful directions! Unfortunately my dad nor grandad saw it but I managed to turn promptly to my right and immediatey clocked eyes on this Bittern as it flew across and landed in the reeds to our right. The scope was already set up and I was straight on the bird in the reeds, although, it proved difficult to see, because as soon as it landed, it put it's head straight up in the air alongside the reeds and when it put it's head down; well then that was it. Not a chance of seeing it now. The bird wasn't seen again. Taking into account the fog had rolled in at Lilian's hide and I was looking through fog. 6 down and 1 to go!

Some of you will know that there was a Juvenile Rose-Coloured Starling up in Kendal. This wasn't too far from Leighton but my dad and grandad didn't want to go. However, when 2 chaps walked in and sat down in the hide and said: ''We have just been watching the Rose-Coloured Starling up in Kendal and it was showing really well'! Ooooo, how that made me mad! By this point my dad was off his seat and talking to the chaps to get directions to the bird! Unbelievable! I was going to get my dad to twitch something? Wow! He never twitches anymore. On further inspection, the voice was rather familiar to me and it was good friend Mike Malpass. We obtained directions and off we went in search of the Starling.

Grandad wasn't going to drive, so my dad drove. After reaching Kendal, we were soon lost! As my dad had only ever seen one in Cornwall years ago and my granadad had never seen one, I was determined to get us to the bird! We got lost a second time and my dad turned round and said: ''Right, I have had enough now and were going home''.. Wo son wo... no were f***** not! I told him to pull into this car sales garage and I went and asked the chap inside where ''Rusland Park'' was. He very kindly showed me on google maps on his computer and then drew me a map and it turns out we were a half a mile from the bird. Huge thanks to the car sales chap and we were back on the road! An easy drawn map saw us watching the bird within 15 minutes of departure. The bird was sat in a tall willow tree down this drive amongst Starlings. Mega! At last, wooooo! The bird then flew down and proceeded to feed on the apple that it was coming down to feed on every day. The bird then sat in a bush in the garden and this is the point where the best pictures appeared. Half an hour with the bird was enough and we headed for home. All 7 bagged!

With all 7 target birds in the bag and the yearlist upto 145, a fantastic days birding, we headed for home. Again, in the fog!

A ringed Black-Headed Gull outside Lilian's hide on the post was impossible to read - it would have been nice to get some numbers.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Scoters and Wagtails!

Just a picture to show you what a Velvet Scoter looks like - This was taken by myself at Barrow Lower Lodges near Clitheroe on January 1st (1st-winter male).

Evening all, tonight, my blog will be updated completely.

Anyhow, scoters and wagtails. What a trip that was. I don't how many people know, but I presume there are a few people out there that knew about the 3 Drake Surf Scoters that were off Abergele and Pensarn in North Wales a week or so ago. These birds were seen just offshore from Abergele and Pensarn and were best viewed between the Promenade and the cafe. Some days they were seen briefly and some days they were seen for hours at a time.

Seeing as though I had never seen a Surf Scoter before, I decided to twitch them via train as it was only a short journey from Bangor. But as usual, the only day that I was free was the day they decided not to show and I ended up dipping! Urgh - not happy! I spent the whole afternoon looking for them with several others, but no joy!

As I had missed the Drake Surf Scoter at Meresands Wood Nature Reserve a few years ago; I was in Austria at the time skiing! Oh well.

They were then reported again a few days later and the next thing I knew was that I had a text off Mike Stocker from back home, to say that he had just been watching the 2 Surf Scoters just offshore from the cafe! That was it, bag packed and on the train; only to find when I got there, the birds could not be pinned down by myself or Mike; who kindly nipped in again to try and find them for me. I was not best pleased as I had dipped these birds twice now and both times I had to wait for the 6:02pm train back to Bangor as the last one before that was 4:30 and I was not going to get on that train, just incase I got a text to say the birds were showing.

However, I did see 16 Velvet Scoters when the whole scoter flock lifted, which was pretty damn impressive. I had spent a whole day looking for one off Llandulas in December 09 and dipped and now I had just seen 16 together, it just shows doesn't it!

Having got bored of scouring the flock of scoter, my attention was drawn to a Pied wagtail call nearby. I lifted my eyes off the scope and looked to my left to see a Pied Wagtail with a shiny metal ring on its right leg. ''It's ringed, hmmmm, I wonder where from''. A look through the bins had me in total shock as it was colour-ringed! I had never seen a colour-ringed wagtail before.
I searched around for the bird and eventually found it feeding along the sea wall. Now, a quick text to Kane revealed the only Pied wagtail colour-ringing projects in Britain that we knew of were to be: East Kilbride/Glasgow, Abbotsbury/Weymouth and Slapton/Devon. Wherever this bird had come from, it had travelled one heck of a distance.

As the weather had taken a turn for the worse, I tried my best to follow the bird and get some shots but they were not decent enough to completely confirm where the bird was ringed. At the moment it is thought to be ringed from East Kilbride in Lanarkshire near Glasgow.

I intend to go back to Abergele and Pensarn sometime during this week and try and photograph the wagtail in better conditions so the place where the bird was ringed can be positively confirmed.

(See poor pictures below)

Many thanks to Kane Brides, Ian Livingstone, Charlie Howe and Dennis Elphick for their help with this colour-ringed Pied Wagtail. I shall be in touch sometime this week with them and will let you all know where the bird was ringed.

Galway, Gulls and Guiness!

Hello all, I must first apologise to all of you for keeping you waiting on the trip report to Ireland. It has been a few weeks since I have had some time off. Having lectures all week and then either ringing, twitching or birding at the weekends, I just haven't had time update it. Anyway, enough of that.

Having always wanted to experience the Irish culture of County Galway, as well as County Dublin; myself and dear friend Kane Brides made the decision to venture out and see what all the fuss was about and boy, were we in a for a surprise.

Finishing lectures on Thursday morning and ending the day with a field trip to Aber valley. Back at university the excitement was starting to kick in. Late on Thursday evening, Kane arrived at Bangor train station, where we went onto catch the 00:15 train to Holyhead in the pouring rain. We were somewhat entertained on the train, with half a dozen or so drunken students making complete fools out of themselves! Shortly after, we arrived at Holyhead and it was absolutely tanking it down with rain at this point. 02:40am on Friday morning saw us sound asleep on the ferry. However, no sooner had we dozed off, a couple of kids came hurtling round the corner, shouting and screaming and woke us up - not best pleased to put it nicely!

Arrived in Dublin at 6am we found somewhere to have breakfast which turned out to be MacDonald's, crashed there for an hour or so and got the 'Citylink bus from Dublin Burgh Quay to Galway', arriving at 10:30am. Having had a few hours kip on the bus, we were feeling a lot less tired and so the birding began!! Thanks to Kane's quick and precise directions, we were stood on Nimmo's pier within the hour.

The area around Nimmo's pier was alive with gulls; Black-Headed, Common, Herring and a few each of Lesser and Greater-Black Backed gulls were seen. A closer look revealed 2 Ring-billed Gulls and at least 20 Hooded Crows scattered around the pier. A couple of Rock Pipits flew over and a flock of Turnstone fed among the rocky shoreline. Time was ticking to see this Forster's Tern and an even harder scan of the rocks revealed no terns at all. We then came to the decision to have a break, as the wind had picked up considerably and the weather had made a turn for the worse. However, I was soon stopped in my tracks when I saw a birder (the first one). A quick introduction revealed a cracking chap - Michael Davis, a local birder. We had a long conversation about ringing and birds etc: Michael was reading Black Headed Gull rings at the time and we later found out from his notebook that he kindly showed us, that he had read rings off Black Headed Gulls from {Finland, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom and Iceland} What an amazing bloke he was; (See more on Kane's blog).

Adult Ring-Billed Gull

Michael later went onto tell us where, when and what time was best to see the Forster's Tern and as soon as I knew that, I didn't hang around. Kane shortly followed. A brief scan along the shore revealed the tern to be in close vicinity of 6 Sandwich Terns and a Ring-Billed Gull!! Mega birding!


Now, I have just realised that this trip report is extremely long, so I will finish it off with a grand finale.

Best birds seen were:

2 Great-Northern Diver,
1 Red-Necked Grebe,
Pale-Bellied Brent Geese,
1 Common Sandpiper,
3 Ring-Billed Gull,
6 Sandwich Tern,
1 Forster's Tern,
Black Guillemot,
Hooded Crow,


In the evenings, we went out about 6pm and enjoyed ourselves very much. We spent most of our time walking around Galway and Dublin listening for Irish music and when we heard some; we were in there like a shot. 6 or so pints each/both nights. The first evening {Friday - Galway} we managed to find ourselves dancing til 2am in an irish pub and the second night {Saturday - Dublin} found ourselves being taken advantage of by 2 women around the age of 50! They had got it into their heads that we were polish? Anyway, I can truthfully say that, that night, myself and Kane were in stitches laughing at them as they made complete fools of themselves. Oh good times, good times eh kane.

To finish off, on Sunday morning when we left the Travel lodge in Dublin, we had a mooch around Phoenix Park and managed to find and read a Black-Headed Gull darvic. Fantastic!

Ringed on 02/06/09 in County Mayo at Lough Mask as a pullus. Darvic ring - Yellow 228G! A distance of 130km! Mega!

Anyway, I would just like to say that this trip was extremely well worth the money and we sure did have a fantastic time! Highly recommended if anyone wants to go over for a weekend. Very easy to do!

Thanks ever so much Kane.. When are we going over again? Cheers.

Oh! I almost forgot; Back at Holyhead ferry terminal myself and Kane were stopped by police as they wanted to check our passports, well mainly mine. Once recieving our passports back, I asked them why they stopped me and he said: ''You looked suspicios'' ? Probably down to the fact that someone had probably noticed me in Dublin ferry terminal, as I had my scope set up seawatching. Woops. I can see now, why people must have thought me to be suspicious.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

January Birding Highlights!

Generally, most folk who read this blog, will have some interest in birds in some way or another.. ''I hope''. Now, I expect a lot of you are keen birdwatchers like myself and know that at the beginning of each year; January is the starting point for all yearlisters. For any of you that don't know - 'yearlisters' consist of birders trying to see as many species of bird in Britain as they can, in a single year.

As you can see from the blog, I have only been yearlisting since 2008 and even that year was fantastic!! However, 2009 saw me beating my target by only 4 species.

2008:- 238 species
2009:- 242 species

Both fantastic years.

Right, enough of that. I thought this year I would do a monthly post on my birding highlights. In January I got off to a flying start seeing 137 species alone. Taking into account that I ''do not'' drive and all the birds have either been seen via: Bus/Train/Ferry or by someone else driving.

Below are the birding highlights for January 2010.

January 1st - Saw me out with good friends Mike Stocker, June (Mike's girlfriend), and Simon Jackson, for the new year's day spectacular. Places visited included:- Fleetwood Marine Lakes on the Fylde for the Drake Ring-Necked Duck, then onto Barrow Lower Lodges on the outskirts of Clitheroe for the very obliging Velvet Scoter. Next was Rishton Reservoir in Blackburn for the Adult winter Black-Necked Grebe. So, after seeing these 3 great birds and one of them being a lifer for me, we headed on home. Tally for the day was 70 species - great stuff!

January 3rd - I was out again with more great birding friends, this time with Jason Stannage and Bones Adderly. We had decided to bird an area of Merseyside today and boy, was I on form. First stop was Crosby Marine Lakes where I went on to find the Black-Necked Grebe. (This bird went on to show for a week or so, with many birders enjoying this lovely winter bird) It was the 10th record for Crosby and Seaforth - nice!! On the lake I also found 2 Drake Scaup and the 2 obliging Shags. Next stop was Birkdale where we found 130+ Twite and 4 Jack Snipe.. Marshside next where we saw a total of 9 Short-Eared Owls and a couple of Peregrines and Merlins. Tally for the day was 77 species.

Black-Necked Grebe

January 14th - Back in Bangor University now, however, when a flock of 16 Woodlarks turned up in Stubble fields on Glanwyddan Lane near Penrhyn Bay, it didn't take me long to sort a lift out to go and see these birds. Many thanks to Alan Davies for giving me a lift to the site as well as finding a Woodcock.

January 17th - The evening before (16th) saw me on the phone to Jason seeing if I wanted a lift to the Adult female Black-Throated Thrush up in North Yorkshire!! I was home by 10pm on the 16th and watching this truely amazing bird the following morning by 11am! Fantastic! That day we also caught up with a Drake Smew and yet another Ring-Necked Duck at Pugneys Country Park near Leeds.

Ring-Necked Duck

Black-Throated Thrush (Photographed by Jason Stannage)

January 21st, 22nd and 23rd - These 3 days I went birding mad and mopped up all the winter birds and I mean all of them. On the 21st I got the train to Prestatyn and walked the 4 or so miles up to Presthaven Sands where I went onto find the Shorelark; not only for myself but for 3 other birders. I walked upto these 3 guys and asked them if they had seen the Shorelark, but no sign. They then u-turned back to the car and if they had just walked 100 yards further, they would have found the bird themselves. Funnily enough, I only walked 100 yards further up and the bird popped out of the tide line, so a 200 metre jog back to these folk saw them watching the bird.. As if to repay me, they gave me a lift back to Colwyn Bay saving me the 4 mile walk back to Prestatyn - nice one! That day I also had 2 Dark-Bellied Brent Geese {Scarce in North Wales}, a drake Velvet scoter, Goshawk, Purple Sandpiper and Black Redstart.

January 22nd - Birding Anglesey today. I got the train to Holyhead and walked to Soldier's Point where I had Chough and Water Rail. A couple of Black Guillemots in the harbour itself. Then onto the Inland Sea where I had 3 Mediterranean Gulls, Long-tailed Duck and Pale-bellied Brent Geese. A text from Alan Davies again saw me back at Holyhead and on the train to Valley as the Drake Green-winged Teal was showing again, after turning up there, scope set up, the bird was right in the centre of my scope! Great stuff! A Lesser Redpoll was outside my window back at university which was mega!

January 23rd - Last days birding saw me blitzing Anglesey yet again. I was back on the Inland Sea for 10am and met up with John Roberts and his son who were looking for the Long-Tailed Duck which I had the day before, but there was no sign. 6 Scaup were nice as I had missed them yesterday. I carried on to walk all the way to the main bridge seperating the Inland Sea from the actual sea. Arrived at Beddmanarch Bay in the rain, only to find John and his son in the car-park scanning the bay. Another chat with them revealed the Long-Tailed Duck to be in the bay, having done a short hop over the wall, as well as Slavonian Grebe and more Brent Geese.

There had been an Adult Bonaparte's gull at Traeth Lligwy on Anglesey for the past week and a bit. I twitched this bird twice and still did not see it! The bird then came on the pager! John and his son then decided to go and have a look at it and I was very quickly offered a lift to the bird and as you can imagine; I was straight in the car! A short and speedy trip around the top of Anglesey saw us on the beach at Traeth Lligwy! On arrival, not a birder in sight! I thought I can't dip this bird 3 times in a row. John's son then said: ''There is a small gull sat on the sea over there'' Ey up. Where?? A quick look through his scope revealed it to be the bird. Great! We watched the bird for over an hour as it sat on the sea and occasionally had a fly round in the bay. Fantastic! Many thanks to John and his son for the lift!

Bonaparte's Gull

January 28th-31st - Myself and Kane Brides in County Galway and County Dublin saw us watching 3 Ring-Billed Gulls, Forster's Tern, Red-Necked Grebe, 2 Great-Northern Diver, Common Sandpiper, Sandwich Tern, Hooded Crow and Black Guillemots! Fantastic! More to follow on the next post!

Forster's tern

Overall, January has been extremely successfull for me. 137 species seen via Trains, Buses, Ferries and walking many miles. Mega birding if you ask me!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Ringing with Kane Brides!

Pair of Bullfinch

Here is just another bit of ringing I did over the Christmas holidays, albeit a bit late.

On December 31st, myself and Kane decided to go ringing for the 2nd day in a row. The day before we were at Lake Windermere in the Lake District catching Geese, Swans, Ducks and Gulls with Ciaran Hatsell and Craig Brookes. However, today we decided to venture out into the cold weather and see if we could reach the target of ringing 2,000 birds in a year - this being Kane.

Having slept at Kane's house the night before and seeing the Fox in his garden that had been eating all his Woodpigeons, we were up at the crack of dawn and all set at one of his feeding stations near to where he lives. Throughout the morning we knew when we only caught a few birds at these sites that we would not reach the 2,000 birds target.. At the end of the day I think we ringed about 30 or so new birds and finished 2009's total on 1,930 + birds ringed by Kane. I have to say that it is an extremely impressive total! We caught some pretty nice birds that morning including several Bullfinch and a Yellowhammer which was a ringing tick for me.

Adult female Yellowhammer

Kane Brides managed to ring just over 1,930 birds on his own in one year, now I think he deserves a huge pat on the back for that, don't you?

Thanks once again Kane! Cheers.

Ringing whilst training under Steve Dodd!


The time has finally arrived when I have found some time to update the blog. I have been very busy over the last few weeks, mainly university related but also various birding and ringing related trips..

Priority is to let you all know about the trip to Ireland and what myself and Kane got up to, however, I thought I would let you all know what I have been upto whilst ringing with Steve first. For those of you that don't already know, Steve is my trainer..

Adult Common gull - Lovely bird!!

I first moved to Bangor on September 19th to start my 3 year Degree course, however, I never knew I would meet such fantastic and kind ringers along the way. Since moving to Bangor, Steve and his wife have been so kind and helpful and have given me an insight into ringing to a whole different level.. This is in the form of Cannon-netting. I have been inolved in cannon-netting for about 6 months now and I can truthfully say I am fully confident in completing the jobs assigned to me. E.g. pegging the back line and running out the cables etc:- I have been involved in just over 2 dozen cannon-netting sessions now and have ringed some fantastic species along the way.

One weekend in each month sees me out and about cannon-netting - it is always great to get out because you never know what catching opportunities await you. I have ringed just under 300 birds with Steve, consisting of 17 species.

Below is a list of species ringed with Steve:-

Blue Tit
Reed Warbler
Great Tit
Black-Headed Gull
Common Gull

Many thanks to Steve and Rachel for a fantastic few months of ringing and I am sure there will be a lot more to come in the following months!