Monday, March 28, 2016

North Wales - 6

Fairbourne a few miles up the road from our accommodation with long beaches and a great view along the estuary to Barmouth Bridge.  And the sun came out too.





North Wales - 5

....and then a walk around the Rhaeadr Nantcol Waterfalls.





North Wales - 4

The Precipice Walk just to the north of Dolgellau is a relatively easy hike that would offer great views in favourable weather.  Beating off the hail made it slightly challenging, but the vista was still impressive along this trail.

A male Northern Wheatear was present in fields close to the start of the walk.  Two Raven flew over the ridge.




Sunday, March 27, 2016

North Wales - 3

We returned to Ynys-Hir again for the morning - the weather starting off fine before the showers set in once again.

Along with 15+ Sand Martin, three Swallow were new in.  A Green Sandpiper called as it flicked low over the marsh.  In the woodland, Nuthatch, Chiffchaff, and Goldcrest moved around restlessly, with Stonechat enduring the rain out on the heath.







...and then there's Portmeirion.








Saturday, March 26, 2016

North Wales - 2

And so the rain came in.  And it rained lots, but we were determined to make a day of it.

We headed first to the Dyfi Osprey Project Centre where the day before, the first Osprey had arrived.  This was however 'Blue 24' a female from the Rutland Water project but related to birds that have bred at the centre.

This was great news for the team of volunteers as it was their first Osprey sighting of the year, but had predictably moved on presumably to its Rutland breeding site.  The Lottery Funded visitor centre is an impressive structure towering high over the landscape and out towards the nesting site.  The wardens there are working hard to continually improve the habitat for other breeding species such as waders and reed-dwellers.  It's a fabulous place and a great project.

In the absence of any Osprey, we headed a few miles down the road to the Ynys-Hir RSPB reserve, an area of mature woodland and salt-marsh.  Another utterly impressive reserve with helpful volunteers and great wildlife, which I'm sure will come to life with birdsong over the next few weeks.

It was a rewarding morning despite the gloom.  A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker called high from the woodland canopy where on the scrape, my first Sand Martin of the year were hawking insects with at least twenty there.

The real surprise was a drake Garganey that emerged from the far shoreline associating with Teal as it drifted along the flood.



Along the estuary, a distant Sandwich Tern paused briefly before continuing further inland.

The weather had turned wild, but we headed north in the afternoon to Caernarfon Castle to take in this impressive 13th Century fortress.





The beach at Dinas Dinlle is my father's resting place so I wandered along the beach to pay him a visit.

Along the beachside is what seems to be a new area of wetland now managed by the RSPB that was bursting with around 500 Golden Plover some in smart summer plumage.  The area looks great for moorland species.



Friday, March 25, 2016

North Wales - 1

This was our third consecutive Easter in North Wales - it's hard not to return to the place of many childhood holidays, of engaging scenery, and dogged nostalgia.

Good Friday was the best day weatherwise, so we took on a modest hill-walk near to the wooden toll bridge at Paenmaenpool.

The walk was most agreeable, with a few BuzzardYellowhammerSiskin, and Fieldfare over the barren hillside.

En-route to our B&B, a Goshawk was seen from the car pursuing its unfortunate prey across the flooded fields at Arthog.






Sunday, March 20, 2016

Stockers Lake

Back 'home'.  It was a really pleasant day - the sun was out and Stockers looked primed for Spring.


The first sound, a Chiffchaff called from the eastern end as did a couple of showy Goldcrest from the woodland.

On the water, a total of 12 Red-Crested Pochard, mostly drakes were displaying to a couple of unresponsive females - not an unfamiliar turn of events.  Three Goldeneye were seen on the water, two of them drakes still lingering but not long till they begin their journey north.


On Stockers farm, 57 Wigeon remained, with two Oystercatcher present there.  The field was flooded and looked great for an imminent LRP.



A small flock of Siskin were present in the alders with two Treecreeper and a singing Nuthatch.

A Common Buzzard appeared from over the fields at the back of the reserve.




Saturday, March 19, 2016

Rainham Marshes

With Wildlife Explorers completed for another month, I took the opportunity to wander round the Marshes in the hope for early migrants.  It was cold and it didn't feel like an afternoon for a keen northern wanderer to fly through - it felt very much like winter.

A Jack Snipe was a nice surprise on the Purfleet Scrape that showed well albeit distantly on one of the small islands.  There were ten Golden Plover present there as were eight Pintail.

The Barn Owl was showing again from it's favoured home along the woodland treeline.  Around the reserve, six Common Snipe were seen flying around, and two Water Pipit flew into the scrape seen from the Butts hide.


A female Stonechat flew into scrub near to the Ken Barrett hide, and a single Fieldfare disappeared into cover.

On Aveley Bay, a lone Avocet was present along with three Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover, and four Dunlin.

A Short-eared Owl was seen briefly before disappearing toward the landfill.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Rainham Marshes

A quick morning trip to the Marshes in the hope of maybe an Owl or a rare raptor.  It wasn't to be but an Avocet was feeding in Aveley Bay with a Black-tailed Godwit also present.

A couple of Marsh Harrier were sizing up the day over Wennington and Skylark were abundant, relatively speaking.





Saturday, March 12, 2016

Rainham Marshes

It felt a lot like Spring today.  As soon as I stepped out of the car, a singing Skylark fluttered over spreading the good news across the riverside.

Lapwing were particularly engaged in pursuing potential mates, amorous pairs wheeling together over what will hopefully be a fertile breeding ground.

This Short-eared Owl remained perched on a fence-post at the back of Aveley Pools.  The Owl looked ghostly through the light mist under a weakened sun.


There was no problem catching up with the Dartford Warbler today, as it.. darted from bush to bush, and was then seen singing from the tops.  A male Kestrel was seen nearby devouring an unfortunate rodent, and there were plenty of Cetti's Warbler calling from the reedbeds.



The air was still and during the height of the afternoon, it felt positively balmy, the views across the pools appeared mystical.  A few drake Pintail were in close company with the Wigeon, Teal, and Shoveler, a quartet of just stunning looking birds.


Among the waders were at least 5 Curlew, with a group of 50 Black-tailed Godwit that flew onto Wennington.  A group of Dunlin were busy feeding on the Purfleet Scrape and plenty of Redshank were present on the pools.


In the fading light of late afternoon, a short vigil on Serin mound produced a distant Buzzard on the far bank, and 3-4 Marsh Harrier quartering the open fields.