Saturday, 27 October 2012


Yesterday's sunshine took us to Llanrhystud on a walk along the coastline south to the lime kilns. Snow buntings had been seen there a couple of times this week so we were hoping to get a glimpse of them but unfortunately dipped out. The walk was still very enjoyable - despite a cold, harsh wind - with good views of plenty of chough, oystercatcher, redshank, rock and meadow pipit, a med gull and a flock of about 40 wigeon out at sea. Towards the end a grey seal popped its head up close in to shore.

For today we decided to walk from Dolgellau to Barmouth on the Mawddach Trail along the estuary towards the coast. Overall the walk was absolutely lovely, with stunning scenery cast into a golden light by the beautiful winter sun, although it did lack a bit in bird life. It started off well with good views of dippers on the river. As I was photographing one dipper another one landed nearby causing my bird to burst into song and to flap its wing in some sort of territorial display. On the walk we noted numerous grey heron, curlew, teal, wigeon, pintail (photo), red-breasted merganser and goosander as well as a treecreeper and a red admiral basking in the sunshine on an old tin bath. As we crossed the bridge over to Barmouth (a stunning piece of architecture providing beautiful views all around) we got ringed plover, oystercatcher, redshank and common gull. Unfortunately, we picked the wrong day for visiting the town as a dirt bike race was on so we did not get the chance the explore the sand dunes and the coastline.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

its hammer time....

Good news on the garden front this week, with two new birds for the list, and both a couple of crackers. First up, on Monday, my eye was drawn to a flash of sunflower yellow and peering out the window I was astonished and delighted to see a belting male yellowhammer under the feeders amongst the numerous chaffinch and sparrows - unfortunately Steffi was not around so a) she didnt see it and b) there was no photo of it.
Then today, tick 62 appeared in the shape of a brambling, which originally got my attention when it flew into the kitchen window, then sat composing itself in the ash tree, before dropping down to feed with the chaffinches under the seed feeders - luckily this time Steffi was around to see and photograph it, through the window (so not great quality).

Yesterday we headed off on a circuit of our patch, but things were quiet with only redwing, grey wagtail, teal and 11 snipe of any note, along with some inquisitive cows.
Just observed the local bats (pips) are still active and feeding over the garden. With a good crisp and sunny forecast for the next couple of days in store, we plan a few new walks to make the most of this good weather, so hopefully we can update the blog this weekend with tales of avian joy, and stunning scenic photos to look forward to.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Tywyn the knot

Such a fantastic warm sunny weekend had us out and about at every opportunity, our new local patch walk on Saturday yielded redwing, mistle thrush (still increasing) song thrush and blackbird gorging themselves on the hawthorns, as well as a large number of teal and 8 snipe on the flood. Back home we had a male sparrowhawk snatch a chaffinch from the bird feeders and land on the balcony for a brief spell, allowing great views of this dynamic hunter.
Other news from home included a new moth for us attracted to the kitchen window, red-line quaker (see photo), as well as two garden 'ticks', redwing and a group of 9 teal.

Sunday took us north into Gwynedd and the broadwater at Tywyn, a large tidal lagoon, fed by the river Dysynni at one end and emptying into Cardigan Bay at the other. We were there around high tide and had good numbers of curlew, lapwing, ringed plover and c400 knot (photo), which took to the skies when a peregrine passed overhead, adding to our raptor list of red kite, sparrowhawk, buzzard and kestrel. 5 skylark and an overhead chough were noted on the walk to the lake. Best of all, a male scaup was out in the middle of the lake consorting with goosander, shelduck and little grebe. A lovely walk round the scenic, wooded, shady, damp Dolgoch falls didnt add many new birds to the day, except for a very obliging treecreeper and this was followed by a brief stroll along Tal-y-llyn lake which was also quiet, with just g c grebe, little grebe and mute swan on show.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

happy monday

A brief visit to Aberystwyth on Monday to meet Steffi for lunch happily coincided with the appearance of an obliging curlew sandpiper (not as easy to see on the photo as it was through the scope) at Tanybwlch in a flooded field. Good clear views of this handsome wader made our day, at one point posing next to an equally obliging med gull.

Last night a calling tawny owl in trees next to the house kept me entertained during the televised rain washed debacle of the England/Poland non-game, much more fun than listening to the pundits describing different ways of clearing a waterlogged pitch for 2 hours.......

An early start at Ynys-hir for the high tide didnt really produce the goods, but good numbers of barnacle geese, r b mergs, goosander, pintail, little grebe, g c grebe, snipe, curlew, teal, redshank, wigeon and oystercatchers kept us busy.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

monty got a raw deal.....

Saturday dawned bright and cold so we decided to undertake a minor tour of some of Montgomery Wildlife Trust reserves to get familier with our local area. Wasnt quite the success we hoped for. First up was Pwll Penarth, down by the Severn near Newtown. Very quiet, with just a water rail and little grebe to break the monotony of the mallards. Nice little reserve though, and looks promising.

After this the day went down hill! Next up, Llandinam gravel pits - not easy to get to, a long, rough track, at the end of which was a closed sign......ho hum. Then onto Llyn Mawr, again not easy to get to and when we finally arrived the heavens opened with a downpour of biblical proportions prompting a swift retreat and a return home.

Today an early start to catch the high tide at sunrise at Ynyslas - again not very busy, but a nice bunch of grey plover amongst the 100's of oystercatchers, a few ringed plover and curlew. Highlight was a good number of close in common scoter, a bird Steffi had only seen previously very distantly. A quick pop in to Ynys-hir on the way back gave us our first redwings of the autumn, and good views of barnacle geese, red kite, wigeon and reed bunting.


Back at home two dippers were showing well on the river Dulas.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Border Crossings

A weekend in Leominster unfortunetaly did not produce the farmland birds we were hoping for. The highlight was a very tatty peregrine falcon on our Saturday walk. The lowlight was finding an injured grass snake which had been hit by a car only seconds before we got to it. Though still alive we doubt it survided. Back in the town the churchyard was full of small birds flitting about which gave some nice photo opportunities. And on our way back we stopped at Glaslyn Lake (the one in Powys near Mach) and were rewarded with a flock of about 20 golden plover flying over our heads.

Today we walked along our local patch on the Dyfi river and had goosander, kingfisher, three grey wagtail by the Dyfi bridge as well as about 20 flushed snipe and 60 teal. At the end of our walk, almost back home, a tit flock contained two goldcrest which had a bit of a quabble and showed their bright crests off nicely. We have also noticed that the number of mistle thrushes has increased markedly in the area and subsequently has made it onto the garden list.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Head of the table

With Saturday morning breaking bright, warm and sunny, we took the opportunity to head out and finish off the remaining river surveys, giving us a free afternoon to wander the beautiful and remote Cors Caron. A dragonfly bonanza was on offer, with numerous species making the most of the autumn sun. One, a common hawker, was so taken with my silver birch coloured hair, it decided to eat its beetle prey on my ear, giving me a unique sound experience of crunching and munching. According to Steffi, the german translation of common hawker is 'peat mosaic virgin' (Torf-Mozaikjungfer), just thought we'd throw that in for no good reason.


Along with the dragonflies, lots of common lizards of all sizes were on display - most of the larger ones were in the process of skin shedding.


Bird wise, reasonably quiet, with a distant hobby keeping the remaining swallows alert, and adding to our pretty good weekend raptor list of red kite, buzzard, kestrel, sparrowhawk and the local celebrity golden eagle, which came close enough for some reasonable photos (The day before, we had a hunting merlin at Ynyslas spooking the dunlin flocks). Unfortunately we could not add our target species to the list, hen harrier, which have been seen here recently.