Tuesday, 24 November 2015


  In Ceredigion there are just about no opportunities to see colour-ringed geese, but we do get lots of Mediterranean Gull rings to view, so it was good to see so many colour-ringed Pale-bellied Brent Geese last Friday at Foryd Bay.
  In a group of around 100, at least 6 had colour rings but the wind made it hard to read them but we did get a couple and Graham McElwaine of the Irish Brent Goose Research Group sent me the details of those birds and remarked that they were the first colour-ringed birds reported from that site this winter and that "Records from Wales are like gold nuggets!"
  Both birds had red rings on both legs. The one with a B on the right and D on the left  had been ringed as age category 6 (hatched before previous calendar year but exact year unknown)  at a pitch and put course near Dublin 19/2/14. Subsequent sightings were 4/4/14 Dublin Bay, 16/11/14 Strangford Lough, 5/12/14 Menai off Caernarfon, 26/1/15 Dublin Bay and 4/1/15 Killough Bay, N. Ire.
  The other bird, K on right leg and X on the left, was ringed 1/3/14 near Dublin, also age 6 category and seen there to 14/4/14, then 17/10/14 and 31/10/14 Strangford Lough. 
  So far the Group have ringed 4,500 -5,000 geese. Sightings of colour-ringed birds can be sent direct to grahammcelwaine@btinternet.com
  Before we left we saw a noisy Green Sandpiper at the pool behind the hide.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Point Lynas Seabird Passage 21/11/15

A classic seawatch at Point Lynas this morning, with overnight NNW gales decreasing at dawn, large numbers of seabirds were blown close inshore from Liverpool Bay. Huge numbers of birds were passing from dawn, within 50m of the point from first light. As the first birds I saw was a flock of three Great Skuas, I knew it was looking good. I didn't have time to take my eyes from my binoculars or set my scope up for 15 minutes, as I tried to estimate the numbers, or find the scarcities! As the light increased birds moved further out and the numbers went down but it was well worth staying for three and a half hours, it was actually quite sheltered on the east side of the point!

From 7.20 to 10.45 I recorded c. 2,800 Kittiwake, c.6000 Auks (95% Razorbill), 250 Gannet, 1 'blue' Fulmar (only my second record from Lynas, for probably 25 years), 3 Fulmar, 4 Leach's Petrel, 1 Storm Petrel, 3 Pomarine Skua, 9 Great Skua, 8 Little Gull, 122 Red-throated Diver (incl. flock of 16), 3 Great Northern Diver, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 70 Common Scoter, 1 Eider, 7 Goldeneye, 10 Pintail, 2 Shelduck, 3 Black Guillemot.

A great morning after a fairly disappointing autumn for seawatching, shame these weather conditions don't happen more often!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Unusual Redwing

Dodgy Video-grab of the bird
I saw this unusual Redwing yesterday in my lunchbreak on the shores of the Menai-Straight between the two viewpoint Car-Parks near Menai Bridge. It was amongst about 200 other Redwings. Its plumage was washed out slightly with Silvery-white wings and a greyish wash to its rump and tail and looked very pale in flight. It was more of a Silverwing than a Redwing!

RSPB Conwy sightings board

Signs of colder temperatures elsewhere in Europe come with a few more pochards (seven this morning), a couple of goldeneyes and at least three pintails on the Deep Lagoon. A couple of coal tits have been regularly on the feeders, and male brambling was seen there on Sunday 8th, but not since. A great crested grebe has been on the estuary all week, along with red-breasted mergansers, but the surprise of last weekend's Wetland Bird Survey was this smart whooper swan, which stayed just for a few hours on Monday afternoon. Thanks to Alison Cocks for the photograph.

For more of this week's bird news, read the Conwy reserve blog.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Freeze Frames tonight in Bangor

Brian Anderson is an excellent, well travelled,  wildlife photographer from the North West. Tonight we are lucky enough to have him coming to talk to us at Bangor Birdgroup (Brambell building, Bangor Uni) to talk about Wildlife of the Polar Regions. It should be a great talk. Doors open @ 7pm for a 7.30 KO. Hopefully see you there, all welcome.

Monday, 16 November 2015

North-East Wales bird report (2014)

The North East bird report (2014) is available from Conwy RSPB on the 20th November and RSPB Burton Mere on the 23rd November for £5.The book covers all species recorded throughout NE Wales and BirdTrack is fast becoming one of the best ways to get your reports noted. All but a handful of species can be seen down to at least 1 km level. Those that cannot are currently the species that are on the NRW ‘Sensitive Species’ list. They can be seen at the 10 km level. 

Please keep submitting bird records, from wherever you happen to be, via BirdTrack. If you use the BirdTrack App, please have a look at the article with advice about grid references in the App that is in the 2014 report. For more information, please visit http://www.cbrg.org.uk/ An excellent and very valuable resource!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Porth Ysgaden - Caspian Gull?

Spent a cold but very enjoyable three and a half hours with Eddie aseawatching at Porth Ysgaden this morning. Highlights were  9 Great Northern, 8 Manxies, a distant skua, possibly Pom, 4 Pale bellied Brents,  sanderling , Golden plover, 11 Med Gull and lots of Auks kits and fulmar . Best bird was a large gull that passed right in front of us which immediately struck me as something odd. A large pale headed gangly gull  in second yr plumage.The  mantle and scaps were grey and the wings were stripy with an obvious band of  dark secondaries. It was oddly pale for  a Herring Gull and reminded me of those pale frosty juv Greater Black Backs, but the structure was all wrong. The head was small and tapered and pale making the dark eye and a few smudges behind it stand out.  Only when I noticed the huge long bill did the penny drop! By this stage the gull had passed us and was going out of sight the other side of the wall there. After getting my camera out of the rucksack and eventually out of its case I ran round after it into the wind and got a few poor shots as it hugged the coast heading west. It was all over in a matter of seconds.
I'm cautiously sure it is Caspian Gull but admit to not being a guller by any means. I usually identify my large gulls according to which country I'm in! Anyway I'd be interested in any comments anyone may have on these (really bad) pictures. All cropped but otherwise not mucked about with at all.