Sunday, 15 September 2013

A Woman Spurned....

As you can probably guess from my 'hilarious' title, we have just returned from the inaugural migration festival at the iconic birding location of Spurn - a first time visit for Steffi, and one that every birder should make at least once in the autumn.

A series of talks, walks and workshops had been laid on to help people get the most out of the weekend, and whilst we spent the majority of the time doing our own thing, the sheer amount of birders in the area meant that not much got through unseen and that news of sightings spread quickly, allowing folk to get onto most species picked up. However, saying that, we did manage to miss both wrynecks and common rosefinch, being about as far away from their locations as is possible when they were showing, and having to listen to that time honoured classic refrain of  'not been seen for about an hour' whenever we did get to the spot. That aside, we had a great weekend and saw plenty of birds. Waders, in particular, were very impressive in both variety and number. 19 species, including little stint, ruff, bar tailed godwit, spotted redshank, whimbrel and green sandpiper were seen alongside fantastic numbers of grey and golden plover, dunlin, redshank, greenshank and knot. Particularly impressive was seeing plenty of godwit and knot still in summer plumage.



Out at sea manx and sooty shearwaters were noted, with great and arctic skuas harassing the sandwich and common terns amongst the common scoters, gannets and red throated divers.
Yellow wagtails were abundant, a showy red backed shrike kept the punters happy and 2 passing marsh harriers entertained the crowds enjoying the unusually hot and sunny weather. Numbers of commoner migrants like whitethroat, whinchat, wheatear, willow, sedge and reed warbler showed well, whilst observing ringing demonstrations featuring linnets, tree sparrows and meadow pipits proved interesting.


A highlight for us, and a first for Steffi, was flushing a corncrake from a grassy bank at Sammys Point - we passed the news on and it later appeared in the days report so presumably others got onto it later. 3 late swifts overhead as we were packing up to leave completed the checklist for the weekend which numbered 87 species. Great fun, and a firm date in our calendar from now on.


Monday, 9 September 2013

Summer Sightings

As its been well over a month since our last post, firstly an apology for our tardiness. A busy month of receiving house guests and trips away for the odd concert combined with the countdown to leaving the cabin and moving house has resulted in our lack of postings, so heres a quick catch up of the highlights encountered in August.
As is customary this time of year, birds take a bit of a back seat and our attention is drawn to other wildlife, particularly butterflies and dragonflies. On a walk on the 9th from Tal-y-Bont to Borth we had 12 species of butterfly, including wall brown, common blue, large skipper, gatekeeper and small copper. A family of stonechat, some passing manx shearwaters and recently fledged reed bunting were the only noteworthy birds.


On the 11th we headed off to Broadwater, where the star of the show was a fishing osprey. On the lagoon around 40 goosander had gathered, and our first arctic skuas of the autumn were heading north following the few sandwich terns.


A trip back up north following a Martha Wainwright concert in mid month allowed us to retrace an old favourite walk of ours from Hornby to Wray over Roeburndale, on which redstarts featured, along with a showy kingfisher, numerous meadow pipits and a green sandpiper down by the Wenning.


Back home a good showing of odonata on the 20th at Llyn Glanmerin included an ovipositing brown hawker along with southern hawkers and lots of emerald damselfly. A couple of feeding spotted flycatchers were a welcome bonus.



Towards the end of the month reports of a showy spotted crake had us heading out to Ynys-hir, where we had excellent views of this normally shy critter, and indeed as I write it is still around and we have now seen it a couple of times. One last treat - for me anyway - came when I stepped out onto the deck one evening for some fresh air and a tawny owl flew in and landed on top of the bird feeder, turned to stare at me for 4 or 5 seconds before silently swooping off down the field.

We have also been keeping an eye on the moths attracted to our outside light and on 3/9 we discovered - much to our delight - a nationally scarce species: Cloaked Carpet. Record sent off to county recorder and was confirmed.