Finally its the summer and I can't believe I've the holidays are here. Soon we are going to France for 2 weeks so hopefully I can see more brilliant birds on my travels. As well we'll be stopping off at RSPB Arne and Salisbury plain to see the Great Bustards, which live there despite living on MoD land. However I can probably squeeze some extra birding if the weather becomes sunny or a least not raining. Have good birding and a good summer,
Another day like this one please! New Brighton Beach
The day started off a bit drizzly, and dark and grey. However as soon as we crossed the border it perked up a bit and it stopped (for now!). We arrived at the car park and after a toilet break, we set off towards the dunes.
We reached the path and immediately spotted Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Linnet and Natterjack toadlets (baby toads) which are rare and nocturnal, but the babies were out in force. Unfortunately lots of them had been stepped on which was sad, but it was a busy path with dog walkers, hikers, birders and lots more. We spotted a Heron in the reeds, and, first lifer, a Sedge Warbler singing its heart out. As we continued our journey towards the dunes we spotted loads more sedge warblers, reed warbler, more linnets, Starlings, Oystercatcher, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot, Little Egret, Stonechat, Black headed gulls and a brief glimpse of the Little Tern Colony!
A dodgy shot of a Little Tern in flight at the Colony with the beautiful white forehead.
We walked up to the colony and the first thing I felt was the sound of the terns, because it was really noisy, but the terns were absolutely beautiful and the white forehead, orange bill with black tip and size makes them really obvious to identify beside the Common or Arctic Tern. We watched them through scopes, even on the nest. Little Terns nest on the shingle stones that have washed up, but this makes them very vulnerable to threats. Foxes, Kestrels, walkers, the incoming spring tides, dogs and egg collectors (*shudder*) are all a problem for the terns and the wardens who can't watch over them all day and night. It was only recently that the Little Tern colony was destroyed, the birds fleeing the nest and the eggs gone. On the other side of the fence they found trainer foot prints and dog paw prints. Hopefully this will neither happen at Gronant.
A Bee Orchid at Burton Mere
After that we went to Burton Mere scoring Mediterranean Gull, Spotted Redshank and even the breeding Cattle Egret!!!!!!! It was a long, but brilliant, day filled with lifers and more. I hope to go again soon.
On another note I saw a garden warbler today at Whixall Moss, while bird ringing and this trip was on last Sunday.
Sorry for not posting in such a long time. What with my year 7 exams (managed to get good-ish marks on all), practising for the school orchestra and other things, the only birding I've managed to fit in is at home. The Blue tit, Great tit, Jackdaw, Sparrow etc. have had the young fledge successfully. I have seen 5 blue tit chicks from the same family and 4 for the great tits, which is great, plus a lot more! However, they are extremely loud when they are calling outside your window at 5am in the morning.
As well, at school, I have managed to discover we have Swallow, House Martin and Swift! Swifts are the most graceful and makes the most boring lesson a bit more interesting. They often are near the Swallows and House Martin and you can really tell the size difference between them.
Keep reading my other posts, I will have some more soon!
Get out birding
And I hope you enjoyed Springwatch (last episode on Thursday but you can catch up on iplayer) if you watched it!!!
A beautiful Wheatear: throwback from Bardsey Island
I am writing after a 2 hour car journey and quick detour to see the Ospreys at Glaslyn Osprey project and from the live screen we could watch the chicks despite the rain.
We stayed near Llanbedrog, only 5 minutes walk from the beach but longer as all the ways to the village were many hills. Unfortunately the beach life was distinctly boring with only the odd garden bird and gull flying over, and the beach only coming up with a singular Oystercatcher. However the beach was set in a beautiful bay, and we saw little fish and crabs and even a Jellyfish. Anyway on Thursday we went to the headland and saw a Stonechat, Linnets and Meadow Pipit and the odd crow (etc.) but the sea was a nice change to the lakes and rivers of Shropshire. Despite the disappointing lack of birds there (in the forest we heard Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler in the forest with a Jay) we were going to Bardsey Island off the Lleyn Peninsula!
Bardsey Island is meant to be the burial place of 20,000 saints but more importantly home to 20,000 (approx.) pairs of Manx Shearwaters! Of course, we didn't actually see them on the island but out at sea on the journey in we saw 1, not to know of the suprises in store!
On the journey out we didn't see much till we reached the cliffs, and everything came in a flush of excitement! Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins and the odd Gannet, along with Kittiwakes and gulls were calling and flying and the Guillemots were flying in and bouncing on the water. Some were actively feeding while others simply lounged on the cliffs. There was a hubbub of joy when a Manx Shearwater was seen soaring over the waves (lifer, No.1, check)!
The island and lighthouse
After arriving on the island we set off on a walk, and went to check the sea. Unfortunately we got dive-bombed by an nesting oystercatcher and we were careful not to let it happen again! They were nesting all over the island and you could hear their alarm calls as an unsuspecting rambler strolled by. The grass was covered in pink Thrift and a Chough (lifer, No.2, check) was picking at it. Soon after we had our lunch while watching sea birds, a grey seal - not at the main seal colony - was fishing in one of the coves and a pair of choughs. We saw a Wheatear and it's chick, adorable, and lots of Linnets. A sea mist covered the island as we departed and we even saw 30 Manx Shearwaters!
We spotted a Lesser Redpoll at the osprey centre. Sorry for such a long post!!
Last weekend we went to a trip deep in mid-wales, to the Elan Valley with the Shropshire Ornithological Society, where the reservoirs there keep Birmingham (and the local area) with water. With the specialities of Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and Redstart and more classic spring woodland species.
We set off and saw a few House Martin nests and twisting Swallows in the sky. We had already seen a Red Kite on the way there, but for everyone else it was a first for the day. As the least experienced in the group, I learned an awful lot about warbler song and now know that to make a great birder you need to recognise song. Now I can tell you Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Wood Warbler, Pigeons and doves, and a few odd garden birds so I guess its a start. Anyway we walked into the wood and first thing we see is a Willow warbler in full song, and quiet near as well. Next we saw a Pied Flycatcher entering the nestbox and 3 separate Spotted Flycatchers and they were busy, diving round in the wooded area. A few Goldcrests later and we heard a Blackcap and Redstart as well (neither are lifers but just 1 timers) and finally saw a gorgeous male Blackcap singing lovingly. Next the Wood Warbler came and what cracking views we got, right up close. No pictures but I can still remember it now a week on. We went down a slope and saw a Redstart which was cool as the last time I saw one was when I was 9, at RSPB Minsmere. After a Jay and Song thrush and a few garden birds we headed back down the river and back.
After lunch, and a close encounter with a dog after my sausage roll, we set off round the estate by car and Stonechat and Wheatear were added to my list.
A Pied Flycatcher: not one of my best photographs
Sorry for the lots of writing but a little update:
1) The blue tits and great tits chicks have fledged
2) We literally just saw a Bullfinch through are kitchen window eating dandelion seeds, when we only ever see them in the top paddock.
3) And the Swallows haven't come back and unfortunately we have concluded that they have passed away or chosen another nest site.
Our Blue Tits have started nesting and bringing anything from flies, peanuts, mealworms and more! hopefully little baby blue tits will be emerging soon. Spring is definitely on its way except our swallows. I don't know if anyone else has experienced this but are Swallows are still not back! I am quite worried but hope they'll be alright!
Today we went to Woodlane nature reserve, nr Ellesmere, and although it wasn't a very nice day we had high-ish hopes to see the Sand Martins, and maybe a Grey plover. Unfortunately the Grey Plover had gone but we still saw 2 Little ringed plovers, and lots of goslings and ducklings which were adorable! The gulls were kicking off and building nests and a few fights broke out. Sticks were flying while in a small corner an Oystercatcher was on a nest as well. There were lots of fisherman but not many birders. We did see Jim Almond, who has a Shropshire birder blog (definitely worth a visit), and visited some of the other hides. You have to have a permit to go into the hides but apart from that it is well worth to go see and great waders and warblers sometimes and in spring definitely. It was a great day overall. The best birds were Little ringed plovers, ducklings and goslings.