It was my first visit of the year to the woods near Llanfair TH today. Although the air was cool, the sun was strong and with the bright blue sky and fluffy white clouds one couldn’t help but feel that spring is approaching fast.
The birds seemed to agree with this as I had great views of the resident Nuthatches, Treecreepers and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker plus the summer visitors, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Redstart and Pied Flycatcher. The spring collection is in!
A few pics….
Female Pied Flycatcher (the male was around but refused to pose)
I love Nutchatches!
There’s a hide called “Benarth” at RSPB Conwy which overlooks the lagoons and the causeway between them. For many years now it has been my place to go for a mental detox and today I definitely needed one. I’ve said to many people that “an hour in Benarth seldom disappoints”. So many visitors pop in, look right and left and then exit thinking that there’s not much to see. How wrong they are. It just takes a little patience.
Today I was there from 9.30-11 and I never saw another soul. My own personal reserve – brilliant! It wasn’t long before the first avine performer appeared in front of me.
Magpies are another bird which we overlook because they’re common and sometimes we even despise them for their murderous habits but there’s no denying their fantastic markings and that blue on it’s back is straight out of nature’s incomparable paintbox.
Next to perform was another bird with iridescent plumage – one of this year’s visiting Lapwings. Always nice to see up close.
Evidence of migrants arriving was all around me. A Reed Warbler was “singing” incessantly in the reeds to my left while 60+ Sand Martins were feeding over the pools.
I also saw my “first of the year” Common Sandpiper as it searched the rocky water’s edge and a Reed Bunting pair, gathering nest material to set up residence next to the hide.
Other notable performances came from the ever-antagonistic Herons,
and the Shelducks which seemed to be almost too numerous at times.
Missed opportunity of the day came on the walk back to the car. The rising tide had brought a gorgeous male Merganser close to the path but I only managed 3 shots of it bathing before my battery ran out at which point the bird must have heard my whispered expletive and swam further away. I was still quite pleased with this shot though.
It was a gorgeous morning today and I’m off work for the week so I decided on a trip to the Great Orme. It’s a great place to find migrants at this time of year and I really wanted to catch up with my first Wheatears. The Orme didn’t disappoint me.
As a drove around the Marine Drive I stopped to check the cliffs. The ledges are already occupied by their summer incumbents. Auks, Gulls, Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Cormorants were all present.
Moving on to the limestone pavements it seemed at first as if Meadow Pipits were the only birds around. Hundreds of them – everywhere. However, looking towards the high point of the path I could see some birds with a different stance. Even in silhouette Wheatears are unmistakable. They love the short rabbit-grazed grass areas.
One resident Stonechat must have felt outnumbered by the visitors.
There must have been 50+ Wheatears present. The Females look lovely with their subtle pinks and greys whilst the males look resplendent with their striking markings and that “bandit” eye mask. Some looked like they had just bathed in the dew which covered the longer grass.
Add to these views sightings of my first Swallow and House Martin of the year and it was definitely mission accomplished!
I took my mum out this afternoon and we ended up at the Spinnies (Aberogwen) reserve near Bangor. There are two hides, one by the road and one by the estuary – we tried the roadside hide first.
On arrival all seemed fairly peaceful. The ducks were bathing, the Moorhens were squabbling and an assortment of Tits and Finches were doing their best to empty the feeders. It was so calm that even a frog was aimlessly swimming across the pool, seeming to be in no hurry, just happy to bathe in the warmth of the sun. I christened “him” Freddy.
If your bath doesn’t come with a shower – make your own!
I decided to wander off to the other hide – mum stayed put (she is 86, after all). Again the birds were mainly on or around the feeders. I love Nuthatches, but this one wouldn’t land a branch, just the feeders.
After a while a gentleman in the hide with me asked “is that a Red Kite?” as a large bird flew away from us over the road. A quick and distant grab shot confirmed that it was indeed a Kite, possibly carrying nesting material.
I wandered back to the car and met up with mum again. “Did you see anything?” she asked. “A Red Kite” I answered. She said “Oh, I’m glad you saw it. It swooped down right in front of the hide and plucked something from the water. It was all over in a couple of seconds.”
Having looked the photo again, all I can say at this point is “RIP Freddy! What a way to go…”