Wednesday, 30 January 2013

of Peter and Richard...

The boys are back from their 1 week birding trip in Goa - trip report to follow soon. A total of 241 species seen - highlights included great views of Indian Pitta (or Peter as Mike insisted on calling it), Indian Blue Robin, Dwarf Kingfisher and White-bellied Woodpecker. Low points were losing Rob before we left and Phil and Mike missing the last couple of days with the runs. Rather strangely, we saw more Ring-necked Parakeets on the journey round the M25 this morning than we saw all week in Goa.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Herring Gull HQ

I went for a walk up Abernant and on to Bryn Pica tip. There were hundreds of Herring Gulls in the fields by the tip, also a couple of dozen Lesser Black Backed Gulls and 20 Black Headed Gulls.  In Abernant I had a male Peregrine with a kill, which looked like a Blackbird and it flew up on a pylon to pluck it. Also by the tip was a male Goshawk being mobbed by a flock of Carrion Crows and on the way down I had a female Sparrowhawk being mobbed by Magpies and Jays. One Jay got a little bit to close and nearly ended up as lunch. I got home to find 3 Mistle Thrush in garden. God I hope it's a bit warmer in Goa.

Out of Hibernation

Decided to shake myself into some sort of activity and burn some calories off, so I went for a walk in the snow. I set out up the valley from Mountain Ash heading for " Pease Park " to the check the lake and river. I found the lake 80% frozen with the remaining water holding 7 Moorhen.
I then decided to carry on to the Phurnacite lake where I found 2 Drake Goosanders, 5 Cormorants, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Lesser Black Backed Gull, 2 Moorhen and 5 Coot.
On returning to Pease Park I came across a mixed feeding flock comprising of mostly Great Tits and Chaffinch, a few Coal Tits, 1 Nuthatch and the bird of the day for me, a Willow Tit.
The lake now held 18 Moorhen and on the river was a pair of Goosanders.
On arriving back in Mountain Ash I strolled down the river and came across 10 Canada Geese including Martins previously mentioned white capped one amongst the dozens of Mallard.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Dare Valley Country Park

Early morning walk up the Country Park to check out the lakes for birds and see if frozen. On getting there I found all lakes free of ice and two lakes full of birds. There were 5 Little Grebes / 5 Tufted Ducks /2  Female Goosanders /40 Mallard / 37 Canada Geese with the white head one in the group. Also moorhen and coot present.  Highlights being two new birds for my valley list. These were 1 Lapwing and 1 Black Headed Gull. Also at the Graig a male Peregrine, which flew up in to the mist and went into a stoop and chased a Fieldfare across the sky and over the hill. The Peregrine clipped the Fieldfare but just missed it and it got away. I got back home to find a new bird in the garden which was a Mistle Thrush feeding on apples. I also  had a Fieldfare low over the garden. The main highlight today was at 1.30 pm when I had a flock of about 60 lapwing flying east down the valley. This is the most lapwings I have seen in the valley.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Late news

I've had 2 phone calls from Llwyn-onn Rangers since Monday and dipped both times; Monday 4 Scoter at Pentwyn reservoir, had left by the time I got there. Today 'diver species' on Beacons reservoir, apparently it was distant and dived before they could confirm id (probable Gt Northern). Although they hung around for some time they never saw it resurface.  I checked all 3 reservoirs but no sign but did get my first (probably the last) Merlin for the year along slope east of A470.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


I went to the lake after work, to check out a report of two bittern which were seen over the christmas holidays.I found no sign of the birds at the lake but they could still be in the area.Only birds at the lake were,2  drake goosanders ,4 coot ,2 little grebe , 2 greylag , 1 water rail heard.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Rush hour at Rhaslas

After failing to relocate Phil and Mike's Lesser Whitethroat I zipped up to Rhaslas to view the Short-eared Owls. On arrival, just after 1:30 there were three cars on site with several birders spread round the pond. Up to 4 SEO's showed between 2 and 2:30, 1 distantly but three different birds showed quite close. By the time I left around 3:15 (no more sightings) there were about a dozen cars armed with bin's and camera's. It wasn't that busy when the Black-necked Grebes were around last May!

Run aground gull

Ogmore river: Phil and I visited on the afternoon of Friday 11/01/13 hoping to get some nice flight shots, The toggers however had fed it so much bread it had not only become incapable of flight it had run aground on a sandbar and was waiting for the incoming tide.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Brecon in the cold and wet

Martin Bevan and myself decided late to have a few hours out in Brecon.
First call was around the Mountain Centre looking for the Great Grey Shrike which unfortunately did not show. Other notable birds here was a small flock of Golden Plover, 3 Red Kites, a very pale Buzzard and a flock of about 70 birds consisting of Siskin and Redpoll
From here we decided to go to Llangasty to look for the Great White Egret. On arriving we found the lake overflowing into some of the neighbouring fields. The lake itself was also full of birds including 4 Scaup, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Canada Geese, Great Black Backed Gull but no sign of the Egret. We walked over to the hide where we found large flocks of winter thrushs in the fields.
Next stop was Llwyn Onn reservoir where we found a single Pochard. From there we went over the top to Cwm Cadlan which was very quiet just some Fieldfare in the farm fields.
We then went over the mountain to Hirwaun Industrial Estate hoping to find some raptor activity on the Voyle nothing happening on that front but located 3 Green Woodpeckers in the field at the bottom of the mountain.
Last stop was Sub-Station pond where there was 3 Widgeon.
Nothing really exicting but a few year ticks between us.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Early or is it late birds

I had arranged to take Mike to Cardiff to pick up his anti-malaria tablets ( 11 days to go ) and agreed to meet him by the Navigation pub in Abercynon at 11am.
I was a little early and had noticed a small bird perched on top of a fir tree opposite behind the church and was looking through binoculars as Mike turned up. He had a quick look but we decided a scope would be needed.
The bird had a grey head and nape, reddish brown back, white throat and a thin dark eye stripe which got wider behind the eye and very thin bill all pointing to Lesser Whitethroat which was a bit of a shock at this time of year. Mike went to get the camera and as is nearly always the case the bird flew off up the valley.
After picking up the tablets in Superdrug in Roath we went down to Ogmore for the Bonaparte's Gull ( a lifer for Mike ) which was located very easily and give us superb views swimming back and fro along the river.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Rhaslas pond: hunting for mobile phone this am flushed a female shelduck from south east corner and just about managed a record shot. 1st record for Rhaslas but I've had a pair on passage at the Upper Neuadd in April 2012.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

first butterfly of the year

Small Tortoiseshell butterfly flying around Cwmbach Today. On the Bird front Very quiet Today.

Not tonight Josephine

With a change in the weather i.e. not raining i decided to pop down to Ogmore to try and catch up with the recently found Bonaparte's Gull, from the carpark i could see a few birders so headed down to see if they were on the bird.I was told that the bird had been seen but had flown off towards the sewage works so decided to scan the river to see what was about,there were a few Little Grebes,Goldeneye(20+),two Goosanders(m+f),Redshank,Teal,Shelduck,a few Meadow Pipits and a single Med Gull,i then saw Mr.Hinton and Paul Roberts in the distance and  could see they were on the bird. It was in flight with about 30 or so b.h.gulls but did eventually settle on the water long enough to give decent views but after five minutes or so it again took flight and headed towards the estuary,nice to bump into John Wilson who is up and about again after his accident while "bungee jumping" without a rope!,on the way back to the car picked up a Kestrel, Sparrowhawk,Raven and a male Stonechat,on the way home popped into the Watermill but the only birds there were two Herons and about twenty Teal.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Surf's up

The delayed New Years Day bash took us to Pembrokeshire. First stop was Marloes Mere where the resident Glossy Ibis soon put an appearance in, followed not long after by the drake Ring-necked Duck and the four Pink-footed Geese and a fly over Merlin. Mr Bevan picked up a Peregrine which no one else got on to, while Mr Bell was the only one who saw a lone Chough which showed briefly. Last up was a second year, male, Hen Harrier which put up some 60 snipe.

The Gann was next up and after the obligatory break for coffee, Mr Gaze found the Long-billed Dowitcher, in the opposite direction the rest of us were looking! Decent fillers for the site included Grey Plover, Red-breasted Merg',Goldeneye, GN Diver, Med Gull, and Shag.

While at the Gann we got word that the female type Surf Scoter was off the beach at Broad Haven, so a short ride later Mr Gaze got us all on to the bird.

We decided to finish the day making a short detour on the way home to look for Whopper Swans and Tree Sparrows at Cilsan Bridge and Dryslwyn in Carmarthenshire. Unfortunately neither species put an appearance in. A Dunlin in the Lapwing flock at Dryslwyn was a surprise however.

A decent day out with 82 species in total recorded by at least one of us.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

This is the canada goose with white on it,s head. This is at  Dare Valley Country.
Any ideas what this is a Frog or Toad.

Walk Before Work

Quick walk before work. Yesterday, I walked around Abercwmboi  lake, which was pretty good. I had 5 gooosander and 26 canada geese, one goose has got bits of white on top of its head and I have seen this bird in the Dare Valley Country Park and Aberdare park in the past - keep your eyes out for this bird. Also at the lake was 4 coots trying to kill each other, 1 grey heron and 1 cormorant. Today, I went to lower Tir Founder fields. I was looking for jack snipe, no luck. I did have 35 mallard, 9 teal, and 4 water rail calling. I also got 3 common snipe and I had a willow tit singing by Cwmbach train station; this seemed early to me. Last of all, in work, I had a cracking male peregrine flying over Abercwmboi calling.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Waxwing Sighting 2012

I recorded a year list for the Cynon Valley in 2012, reaching 110 species, this was one of the highlights. Found in Phil's garden in Mountain Ash. 
River Cynon at Mountain Ash.

A ten minute walk on the way home from posting some books off was my first bit of birding after having " Man Flu " over the holidays.
Highlights being 2 Dippers, 4 Goosander ( 2m & 2F ) and a cracking little Goldcrest done to 8 feet.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Llwyn-onn: early am, just singles of moorhen, little grebe and pochard with pied wagtail[2] on inner dam.
Rhaslas: a few minutes after work, 1600 hrs, before the low cloud descended; goosander[7], widgeon[10] and  a single tufted duck. Otherwise very quiet with gull flock probably already at Pontsticill reservoir due to visibility.

The heart attack bird.

Strange name for a bird i know but after witnessing Phil trying to get on it the name stuck.

And not forgetting Mr.Bell

One of the many highlights of our Gambia trip,Martin getting his arse kicked by a crab he decided to pick up and have a closer look at, oh how we laughed!!!

Just for Mike

White Rock

With most of the lads back in work and Mike having an appointment at the GUM clinic (the rash he picked up in Gambia refuses to clear up) i popped up to the woods above White Rock hoping to connect with the lesser pecker that was seen by Phil last year.At the entrance to the woods i picked up a Mistle Thrush in full song and a mixed flock of Siskins and Greenfinch were feeding at the tops of the trees,further along i picked up Goldcrest,Nuthatch,Treecreeper and a Jay but the highlight was a pair of Brambling, no woodpeckers were seen or heard and with the drizzle getting heavier i decided to call it a day.Only 23 species in total but after being stuck in with this sickness bug i was just glad to get out for an hour.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

 Here's one of them chickiny things, god I need a holiday.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

All quiet on the Northern Front

With most of the boys either down with the lurgy, or engaged in a Raven roost survey, the annual New Years day birding bash was cancelled. This provided the opportunity to undertake my core count in the BTO Winter Thrush's survey. Unfortunately, no Redwing or Fieldfare were recorded, however two small flocks (7 and 5) of Song Thrush were almost certainly continental birds over for their winter hol's. Best bird(s) during the survey were 2, poss 3, Water Rail calling in the reeds at Nelson Bog. 3 Willow Tits also showed well at the usual site.
A stroll round Coed Cefn-fforest, later produced very little except a Woodcock (my first for this site).