Sunday, 10 December 2017

North coast birding

A Great Northern Diver was the highlight in Fishguard Harbour this morning and 4/5 Red-throated Divers have been seen in Fishguard Bay during the week, best viewed from the old Fort.
Good birds for the Teifi included one Great Crested Grebe in the bay today with 2 present yesterday. A lone Knot is with the c50 Dunlin and the Water Pipit is still off the Railings by the Boat Builders.

Hook WeBS & St Bride's Bay Scoters

Highlights of my WeBS this morning (not a breath of wind!) was a Jack Snipe & 9 Pintail.

Yesterday on my way back from St David's, I stopped at Newgale, Druidston & Broad Haven to scan the flat calm sea for scoters.  Birds were scattered in flocks ranging from 3 to 80 all the way from Penycwm in the north to Little Haven in the south.  Many were beyond the range of confident identification, but all the ones that were proved to be Common Scoters.  Only divers I saw were from Broad Haven - a single Great Northern and at least 4 Red-throats.  Persistence in the bay over the winter may uncover something more interesting, but the birds need to come closer!  A good telescope is a must.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

WEBS at The Gann

Done today on account of tomorrow's weather - have you seen the forecast?? (Note from Sunday: The forecast was wrong - it all went through over night!) Saturday was calm and cold - ideal really - and all the usuals put in an appearance apart from Shelduck and only one miserly Brent Goose. There must have been a hatch of fry in the pools as there were 8 Cormorants and 16 Little Grebes all gathered for the feast. The Slavonian Grebe was still there and still in the same place!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Marloes Mere & Martin’s Haven

Good numbers of duck visible on the Mere this morning. Highlight was 15+ Gadwall, mainly males, and a female Tufted Duck. 50+ Teal easily visible from the Britton Hide, and 30+ Wigeon.

A Water Rail in the sallows in Martin’s Haven, several dozen drop-in Chaffinches, and a pair of Buzzards sitting on the Deer Park wall. Up to 7 Chough seen at once, but more often pairs, including two that dropped in to roost near Renny Slip in the evening.


male Firecrest in the pines behind the Ocean lab earlier, and 5 GC Grebes in the harbour.

Dartfod Warbler

A male still at St Davids today despite the cold snap. It would be good to know what happens to our breeding birds through the winter.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Grey Phalarope?

A very good description of what sounds like a Grey Phalarope at Freshwater West at low tide today, on a small pool about halfway along the beach from the outflow (Paul Varallo)

Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone

Monday, 4 December 2017

Castlemartin Corse cont.

Chris Oliver and I walked the arable fields in the southern and eastern parts of the farm, away from the wetland, to see what use was being made of those. The fields of root crops and weeds had a good range of species but numbers low - 3 more snipe to add to that spectacular total! Reed bunting 13, meadow pipit 50, dunnock 11, stonechat 5, 4 thrush species, that sort of thing. Lots of starlings on wires - we thought around 400. Interesting in two fields that had been grazed off leaving lots of cow pats was that most of the  cow pats had wader footprints all over them, we thought lapwing judging by the size. Two great spotted woodpeckers - male and female - hung around the farm buildings, pecking at fenceposts.

Castlemartin Corse wetland this morning; Bosherston Lakes E. Arm late this afternoon

A visit was made to Gupton this morning by various observers (including Chris Oliver from the NT, Clive Hurford, Holly Harries, Mike Young-Powell, Paul Culyer of NRW, Richard Ellis and two NT placement students based at Stackpole) to undertake a winter birds survey for the NT. Myself, Paul Culyer and a Lithuanian student looked at the rushy pasture fields along the margins of the Corse reed-bed.

Interesting birds seen by us all included c. 500 or more lapwings. They were regularly in the air over the valley (few seemed to land though as far as I could tell from our valley-bottom location). Very small numbers of golden plover flew over and perhaps 20 or more curlew probably landed on the grassy slopes closest to the coast.

However, snipe was the most notable species in the rushy pasture/wetland zone. At least 438 snipe were flushed as we walked through the fields, with flocks of up to 70 or more in the air over the reed-bed on occasions. Only 3 jack snipe were positively identified but others were most likely present.  Calling water rails, at least one singing Cetti's warbler and several reed buntings were in the reed-bed zone but water levels on the margins were probably too low for duck species. Disappointingly, we didn't see a harrier species and also failed to find a short-eared owl - sometimes they are found roosting in the marshy pasture zone.

I'm not sure what the other members of the team recorded on the farmland. Within our particular patch the variety of species was reasonably good although, apart from snipe, numbers of other birds were low.

Much later on, a pre-dusk visit to Bosherston Lakes E. Arm was not particularly productive. There seemed to be only 3 goosanders on the lower E. arm of the lake. A flock of 75 woodpigeons came in to roost in the lake-side woodland as c. 700 or more jackdaws were in the air preparing to roost. Two firecrests went to roost in an ivy-draped sycamore below the 8 Arch bridge just as it got dark.


Sunday, 3 December 2017

Ringo is back!

A last minute decision to do Llys-y-fran, Paul Mahiques had the same idea as I did so 2 pairs of eyes scanning the gull roost. A really good size roost, lots of Lesser Black-backs but also really good numbers of Black-headed Gulls (perhaps 500+).  Before the light went managed to pick up an adult Ring-billed Gull, almost certainly the returning bird from recent winters.  Also an adult Mediterranean Gull, a Greylag amongst a flock of around 200 Canada Geese, and 7 Wigeon.  A cracking pink sky before the drizzle came, in just as we scurried back to our cars.

Stackpole and Holyland/Kingsbridge this afternoon

A very brief visit to Stackpole at lunch-time provided quite good views of a pretty normal-looking  chiffchaff as it fed along a hedgerow between the Walled Garden and the Upper Eastern Arm of Bosherston Lake.

A late-afternoon visit to Holyland Wood produced 2 firecrests feeding near the boardwalk during the gloom of late afternoon. They were in more or less in the same location where 3 were seen a few days ago.

There was no sign of a chiffchaff  here today, although not far away from the firecrests a skulking female blackcap briefly came up into the tree canopy. Perhaps she is a regular visitor to the nearby Kingsbridge gardens? A poor record photo was only just about possible at very high ISO - the light was terrible. 

Lapland buntings - Trehill Farm, Marloes

At least 2 Lapland buntings calling in the stubble field just west of Trehill Farm around 3pm. 850 Lapwing, 50 Golden plover, 3 Ruff and 2 Dunlin in the field next to it. Male Kestrel and a Merlin. The 4 Scaup and the drake Pintail were still on Marloes Mere, a Merlin spooking 50+ Snipe. Quick look at The Gann, nice to see Bee and Eddie (and Derek, of course). No sign of the Whooper, but the Slav grebe was still on the pools and one of the Mergansers flew up river before heading out into the bay. c10 Redshank, 6 Bar-tailed godwit, 5 Grey plover, 3 Dunlin and a Greenshank. Great Northern diver and c20 Med gulls out in the bay.

Gulls at Newport

Several thousand gulls between the bridge & the tennis courts yesterday & today. Mostly Black Headed & Herring plus a fair number of Common. On neither day did I find a single Darvic ringed bird, & only 2 (different) Meds, 1 on each day.
Quite disappointing.

The Gann, New Arrivals - & departures

A single Whooper Swan was the overnight addition
3 RB Mergansers flew in for a few minutes then left heading North.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

The Gann - Early morning/ late afternoon

Slav Grebe still there, Little Grebes back up to 11, no sign ot the Tufted Duck.  New arrivals 3 Grey Plover, 23 Med Gulls flying up from the shoreline in two's & three's heading to the inland fields with BHG's, wasn't aware of them at first so there may well have been more, interestingly all adults. 2 Dunlin,c10 RP's, 3 Turnstone, 15-20 Wigeon, similar numbers of Teal.

Teifi wanderers...

A couple of interesting species on the Teifi today, both of which were on the Ceredigion side of the water. The Water Pipit may stay faithful to Ceredigion but these Fulvous Whistling-Ducks didn't. They had a good fly this afternoon and who knows where they may appear next !
See Water Pipit and Whistling-Ducks posted on  Ceredigion Birds for further details and more Teifi sightings.