Thursday, 24 February 2011

Black Throated Diver at Willington GP's

With the success of the Oriental Turtle Dove, I was keen to twitch a Black throated Diver on the way back up to North Wales. It would be a British lifer for myself and one to complete the Diver hatrick for the yearlist.

After taking a few wrong turns, we found ourselves walking through cattle fields alongside the River heading towards the location. When we got there, we scanned the lake, but the Diver was proving rather elusive. You'd think how on earth can you miss it on a relatively small lake? After slipping and nearly falling flat on my face and watching the enjoyment in Chris adding Great Crested Grebe and Oystercatcher to his year list, we finally tracked down the Diver, how we'd mananged to walk straight passed it, I don't know, but it did spend remarkably long periods of time underneath the water when we did 'attempt' to keep an eye on it.


Black Throated Diver (Taken by Chris Bridge)
The bird showed pretty well in the time we were there and looked to be taking more of its fair share of fish. Following that we caught up with 16 Bewick's Swans 5 miles away and then decided to call it a day!

Chris Bridge's blog

Back in North Wales, I caught up with a superb adult Med Gull again today at Bangor Harbour and there was also a sighting of a Glaucous Gull that flew pass the Menai Bridge around Lunchtime.

Now is the time to find those gulls and there's a fair few about at the moment, so I will be making the effort in the coming days to see what North Wales can offer!

Oriental Turtle Dove

With a second for Britain situated 185 miles from home, I decided on Monday night that I had suffered enough and decided to and see this Eastern delight the next morning.

The Oriental Turtle Dove has been putting on quite a display showing well in a small back garden in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. The bird seemed to be quite settled and appeared to have a set pattern showing well early morning in the back garden and later on moving to the back of some Ash trees not too far away.

Getting up and out at 5am is never an easy task and with the added bonus of driving 3 hours to a site where a bird is never guarenteed, is always a risk. Chris bridge came along with me and of course, had it already 'ticked' - provides the enthusiasm if nothing else! We approached the street and it had looked like our worst nightmares had come true... thick fog giving very little visibility down to a few metres.

Oh dear... so anyway we gave it half an hour scoping into grey space in the hope we'd do the impossible. Chris tried his best to turn the local collard doves into the bird, but with no success...

We soon gave up and walked towards the house where the bird was best viewed from in the morning, no sooner than a few minutes past, Steve, the house owner came out and provided the excellent news that it was feeding down on the lawn in his back garden. 

Taken by Roger Wyatt, here's a fantastic image to UK400ClubRareBirdAlert for an image of the Oriental Turtle Dove.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--FnMhrx-AnY/TVrPUsEXHnI/AAAAAAAAKUQ/gwpd5EMveMQ/s1600/OrientalTurtleDove9.jpg

Steve was extremely kind and let us into his house to see the star bird. The bird seemed a little cautious at first but later showed very well to the 30+ birders all desperate to see it. The Oriental turtle dove has a much darker, more rufous-brown colour to its centres and a darker brown-pinkish breast than its more familiar cousin. It also appeared clearly bigger and heavier built.

It was a fantastic bird to see and one well worth getting up and setting off at 5am for, but if it hadn't have been for Steve kindly letting us in to his home, we would never have seen it. Many Thanks!

This shows a link to the daily telegraph and highlights the story behind the bird:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8326275/500-birdwatchers-gather-to-spot-rare-Oriental-Turtle-Dove.html

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Clocaenog Forest

It was a nice morning so I decided to get out the house and instead acquiring eye-ache by watching the sea for 4 hours off Llandulas for the hope of finding a Surf Scoter, I decided to head in the direction of Clocaenog.


Clocaenog is a big pine forest and good for crossbills, but many come for the wintering Great Grey Shrike that has been returning over the last few years there. Its amazing the difference in the wind speed when you add 100ft or so to your height. I reached the area where the shrike is usually viewed for about 45 minutes without any luck. I met a couple of local birdwatchers up there to which they kindly told me about another area (that forks off a little further down the track) that is usually also good for the star bird. So we took a walk down, let and behold, we had arrived just in time to see the bird perched on a pine tree.

Great Grey Shrike
The bird seemed really mobile flying to tree to tree and then soon dropped down the other side out of view. It was great to see and well worth the visit.

Whilst on the way up and back down, there was a good presence of Crossbills (possibly saw 20+ overall). Here's just a couple of images:

Male Crossbill


Female Crossbill


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

An interesting Eider and a moment of magic!

It's been a relatively quiet few weeks with a lack of birds to see in the area. Finally caught up with two Purple Sandpipers at Rhos Point and one Twite mixed in with a flock of 30+ Linnets in Llandudno.

With the high winds during the weekend, a few Little Gulls were spotted, with a 2-3 birds at Criccieth and one reported on the Menai Straits in Bangor.

Along with that another very interesting bird turned up just off the sea at Rhos. A possible 'borealis' Northern Eider. Pictures are available here on the North Wales Birding forum, as you can see the bird has a rather strong colour to its bill but unfortuantely there was no sign of any sails towards the back of the bird. An interesting bird nevertheless.

A quick stop off at Bangor harbour produced a little moment of magic yesterday as I caught up with a superb adult Mediterranean Gull. The gull seemed agitated in flight for some unknown reason but came close enough into the harbour to give some lovely views. I still here the bird is still present today.

This is an image of a Med Gull taken last year as I was caught without my camera yesterday!

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