Friday, 6 May 2016

Pennington Flash and Lightshaw Flash

A quick cycle ride around Pennington Flash and then up onto the canal as far as Lightshaw Flash was productive this evening with a hobby over the western end of Peington Flash and gnnrasshopper warbler and cuckoo singing / calling at Lightshaw Flash. I watched the latter fly up from a hedge and land close by on top of a tree where it started calling again. Supporting cast included two Cetti's warblers at Pennington Flash.

Year: 213 (Cuckoo, garden warbler). This time last year I was on 211, in 2014 I was on 229.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Cemlyn Bay

The tern colony at Cemlyn Bay is a spectacular sight, with at least 350 Sandwich terns, 150 common terns and 80 Arctic terns. Also at least seven Mediterrnean gulls including 3 adults.

Year: 211 (puffin, Arctic tern)

Even more spectacular during one of their frequent "dreds".

Mediterranean gulls now breed at Cemlyn Bay.

Bull Bay

At Bull Bay this evening I found a raven nest with three chicks in one of the geos. Also two choughs, whimbrel, several wheatears and two harbour porpoise,

A few plants from Anglesey

Bladder campion.


Spring squill

I'm not really very familiar with none-native plantation pine trees, but this just caught my attention today, the flowers of Corsican pine.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Aquatic invertabrates on Anglesey

I came across some interesting aquatic invertabrates on Anglesey today. First off was a couple of golden-ringed dragonfly nymphs. I took one out of the water for a closer look, and then when I put it back it proceded to bury itself. Golden-ringed dragonfly is the largest of the UK dragonflies and its nymphs dig themselves into the mud at the bottom of streams to surprise prey.

Next I came acros a few magnificent leechs in a pond we were trapping for great creasted newts.  I think that these are the rare medicinal leech but I'm seeking expert advice on the identification and may go back for a second look tomorrow. They were around 15cm long! Medicinal leech is the only UK leech capable of breaking the skin of a human (so I'm told!).

Conwy RSPB

A brief early morning stop at Conwy RSPB as productive today, with good views of a paiir of garganey right in front of the cafe plus a flock of 10 whimbrel and lots of warblers, swifts and hirundines.

Year: 209 (Whimbrel)

You only realise how small ducks like garganey and teal are when you see them next to somethng like a moorhen!


Common sandpiper

White wagtail

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Pied Flycatcher, Taylor Park, St Helens

Bird of the day today, a fabulous pied flycatcher in Taylor Park in willows alongside the Rangers Centre. It was a decent enough view from outside, but then we were invited to view from the balcony and we had great views of the bird flycatching, at times it seemed like it was about to land on the balcony it came so close! As you can see from the photos, the light was quite harsh while we were watching the bird. You can see Chris McEntee's excellent photo here.

Amazingly this bird was in exactly the same bush as a male pied flycatcher in 2013.

This bird is consistantly being referred to on the bird information services as a male. Whilst it's true that some males can appear quite dull looking and very like females, in my opinion this is a female. although there are features which seem more appropriate to a male. For example, in this photo you can clearly see that it has some white on the rump. In the photos below you can also see that it has some white on the forehead. Both of these features are indicative of a male, but I don't think they are bright enough and perhaps some females can show male like features? I don't know. The main reason I'm calling it a female is that I don't think that there is a enough white in the wing for a male.

This photo adds a bit more confusion. Is that a second wing bar I can see? It's not particularly bright, but you can see it on several photos and this is a feature of semi-collared flycatcher, though apparenly a few collared flycatchers can also show this feature. Also, on most of the photos the bird appears to have grey tones, especially on the neck, which again is reminiscent of semi-collared. The grey tones are apparent on Chris McEntee's photograph but on his photo the second wing bar is missing. Also the tail pattern is not correct for semi-collared.

It's a pity this is out of focus, but I think it does show the extent of the white at the base of the secondaries quite well and perhaps even the tail pattern. Again, notice also the apparent grey nape on this and other photos, including Chris McEntees.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Wood warbler and Dotterel

First stop today was Ford Green nature reserve in Staffordshire to see (but sadly not hear) a wood warbler. This was almost a good phot, but not quite!

This male dotterel was near Broomhead reservoir in South Yorkshire, with about 30 summer plumage golden plover. I don't think I've seen such a pale dotterel in spring before.

One of at least six black-necked grebes we saw at Woolston Eyes today.

Woolston Eyes Number 3 bed. I first visited Woolston Eyes in 1984 and for 10 years it was the nearst thing I had to a local patch, visiting almost daily at times. Today was my first visit to the place in nearly 20 years!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Houghton Green Flash, Winwick

Dunlin 1
Common sandpiper 1
Little ringed plover 2
Yellow wagtail 2 (m&f)
Gadwall 1

Monday, 25 April 2016

Kentish plover, Audenshaw Reservoirs

There was a wonderful male Kentish plover at Audenshaw reservoirs this evening, only my fourth ever in the UK. Previous birds were at Arnold's marsh, Cley (1983), Hickling Broad (1987) and the returning wintering bird at Fleetwood / Knott  End which I saw three times between 1993 and 1996. All of the previous birds were females, so this was my first male in the UK.

It was a fair trek from where we parked the car to the far side of reservoir 3, probably a good 20 minute walk at a decent pace, and when we joined the small group of watching birders, the plover was about 100m away. However it was walking towards us in that stop/start way that ringed plovers have and eventually it walked right up to us. By this time the light was beginning to go, but it was still a great close view of a stunning little bird.

Also this evening two little ringed plover.

Year: 206 (Kentish plover + greenshank and swift in South Wales on Saturday).

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Pennington Flash

Common whitethroat 1 singing in brambles and scrub near footbridge over canal
Common tern 3

Also lots of willow warblers, chiffchaffs and blackcaps.

Year: 203 (Common whitethroat + Lesser whitethroat on Anglesey earlier in the day)

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Pennington Flash

A single common sandpiper from Ramsdales today, also a Cetti's warbler singing at the western end, the first time  I have heard one here. Also two reed warblers singing.

Year: 201 (Common sandpiper)

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Great grey shrike, Marshside

Some great birds today, great grey shrike at Marshside, drake smew at Lunt Meadows and male redstart, channel wagtail, three yellow wagtails and 20 white wagtails at Carr Lane Pools, Hale. Not a single year tick for me though, which is one of the draw backs of being on 200 in the middle of April!

Great grey shrike.

These greenfinches were not pleased to see the shrike!

Spot the redstart!

This shelduck x ruddy shelduck hybrid was on Hale shore.