Monday, January 28, 2008

Napoleon Blownapart?

On the dreary afternoon of Tuesday 22nd Jan, I popped down to Ogmore in the forlorn hope that the rare gull named after a Military leader might still be present ( Eisenhower Gull?). The Watermill was DULL. Portobello was a little better, with an adult Med Gull on the island, and a few Goldeneye. A Black Headed Gull had a pink tinge to its front, and needed checking. Ogmore Beach and rivermouth produced lots of Common Gulls amongst the common gulls, and another adult Med Gull. No Purple Sands (tide was very low). Walking back to the car, I found these feathers on the path: An ex-rarity? More likely a common gull or even a Common Gull. We will probably never know. Off to Kenfig for an hour in the hide. About 10 Fieldfares were in the trees behind the hide. That, however proved to be the highlight, and I nearly fell asleep in one of the dullest hours birding I've ever had. So I went home....

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report 2006

Excellent new Bird Report I think. Good photographs well reproduced and fantastic drawings by Paul Parsons, Colin Richards and Bob Mitchell. Jake's list of Principal Documents and Dates in the History of Glamorgan Avifauna was very interesting.

The Report itself could do with a few more initials though e.g. for 'scarce birds' like Firecrest, Black Redstart, Lesser Pecker, Hawfinch, Willow and Marsh Tit etc - it might encourage people to go out looking for new sites for these species? Also earliest and latest migrants and any birder who goes to the effort to do monthly counts.

I was glad to see in the Report that two members of Birders in Boxers now jointly hold the highest count for Velvet Scoter in the recording area! 7 at Ogmore-by-Sea. Good man Tim for finding them and putting me on to them!

One thing I didn't expect was that the WRP accepted the American Wigeon found at Cardiff Bay in the summer of 2006. It was so poo-pooed at the time as a 'plastic duck' that I didn't bother counting it in my Glamorgan/East Glamorgan year lists. But, that's all changed now! So wait for it. I hope you're sitting down. Here are my new totals for 2006:

Glamorgan: 187 East Glamorgan: 178

Both personal year list bests for the two recording areas, but both definitely Vauxhall Conference standard compared to the Premier League totals set by other birders in Glamorgan!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tabloid Twitchmeister

Read all about it! Read all about it!
The Twitchmeister in today's
Western Mail

Yes, a photo of the Boy Birder appeared in today's "National Paper of Wales" (LOL). No he hasn't breached his ASBO again (that's ASBO as in Anti-Social Birding Order which I issued him with after his constant habit of gripping people off). No, there's a photo of him holding a Long-tailed Tit - not a real one I hasten to add, but a furry toy one - after an officer from the RSPB called at his school yesterday to promote The Big Garden Birdwatch.

Sadly, there were no lifers for the Little Lister on the school bird table.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

No Bittern for Boy Birder

Took the JJ jnr to Kenfig today in the hope of seeing one of the four Bitterns that have been seen there this winter - not a sausage today though (and before anybody adds a comment, there were no Bitterns either).

The Pool itself was very quiet too. Mallards, Tufties, Teal, Shoveller, Pochard, G C Grebes, Coot a fly over Common Snipe etc , but a Turnstone on the East Pool shore was a surprise. After about hour in the Arthur Morgan Hide a large crowd of birders came in on an RSPB Gloucester field trip. Judging by the look of them, their average age and the array of expensive optics on show they looked like a completely separate species from our local Cardiff RSPB group.

On their arrival Geth and I left the hide for a walk down to the beach. The only birds we saw on the way down were Stonechats and amongst the usual Oycs on the beach there was a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit.

Geth was itching to go back to the hide - he was convinced a Bittern would have showed itself in his absence. Back we went and after an hour and a half Geth, who was so desperate to see a Bittern, started hallucinating. Twice he was convinced he'd seen one in the reeds. But, sadly he was mistaken.

We left at about 1.30pm - me with a 'scope on my shoulder, Geth with a big chip on his. He was thoroughly miffed and wants me to take him back there tomorrow with a packed lunch and a flask so we can stay there all day. "I want to come here tomorrow and I'm not leaving until I've seen one!" he said.

You've got to hand it to the Twitchmeister - even as a nine year old he's got the persistence to become a top lister!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Twitchmeister's 2007

I was very lucky in 2007. I got the following 18 lifers:

Glossy Ibis, Whinchat and Marbled Duck at Frampton; Slavonian Grebe, Eider, Brent Goose, Hen Harrier, Jack Snipe, Woodcock, Red-breasted Merganser, Knot and Grey Plover at Whiteford; Osprey and Wood Warbler at Porthmadog; Spotted Sandpiper, Roller, Ring-necked Duck and Pacific Diver. Even if the Pacific Diver wasn't one I'll still get a tick 'cos I haven't seen a Black-throated Diver! It was a really exciting day out with Wayne and Dad anyway. I did better than Dad and only dipped on the Common Rosefinch.

In 2008 I would like to see a Barn Owl, Cattle Egret, Kentish Plover (I'd like to see one of them too!! - Dad), Merlin, Hobby and Storm Petrel.

I think it's really mean that you're not taking me on the Scottish Trip. But, I will come with you when I'm in Year 6!!

Hope to see plenty of you in 2008

The Twitchmeister

Thursday, January 10, 2008

2007 - Not the Best

Birding in 2007 was on the whole very disappointing. Not because I dipped on many good birds (for a change), it was the fact that I must have spent only 5% of the time out in the field in 2007 as I'd done in 2006. Still, here's what sticks out from those few occasions that I did manage to grab the 'bins and get out and about.

The dash up with Wayne and Geth to see the Llys-y-Fran 'Pacific Diver' was about as mad as it got in 2007. With the winter sun setting at around 4.30pm Wayne and I didn't decide to go for this bird 'til about 1.30pm! I hope this birds get the nod (I've heard that it probably won't) and if it does, that it is immediately split from B-t Diver!

Only 3/4 lifers during the year: the Frampton Glossy Ibis and I admit that I have already ticked the Marbled Duck which was nearby - looked like a good 'un to me. Also, the Gower Roller and the Spotted Sandpiper at Lisvane Res.

Glamorgan lifers obviously include the Roller and Spot Sand, but also Kenfig's White-rumped Sandpiper and the Bearded Tits down at the Cardiff Bay Wetland Reserve early on in the year.

The family day trip to Whiteford at the end of December was also a highlight - all the usual stuff with Woodcock, Jack Snipe and a male Hen Harrier the icing on the cake.

Somebody will probably correct me but I can only recall one major dip - the Common Rosefinch at Mewslade. I bet you the bugger's still there. And don't ask me what my year list was - but I did manage to get Spotted Flycathcer, Whinchat and Wheatear though ;-)

2007 - was that it?!

Roll on the Scottish Trip.

Monday, January 07, 2008

End of Year Review, 2007

A quiet year compared to the previous couple. Nine lifers this time around, including the awesome crab-eating white-billed diver in Hayle, 17 glossy ibises at Frampton and the Kenfig white-rumped sandpipier. I'm hoping the Pembrokeshire Pacific diver gets approved too!

Other highlights were nightingales aplenty at CWP, a short-eared owl hunting at Holme and a male golden pheasant while nearly getting rear-ended in Geri's jeep as we joined the B1440 at Wolferton. A day in the West Country collecting hoopoe, laughing gull; green-winged teal; lesser scaup, glaucous gull, Iceland gull and great northern diver was pretty good too.

Lowlights were dipping aquatic warbler at Uskmouth and dusky warbler and American wigeon while in Cornwall, and the absent, long-staying lesser yellowlegs at Thornham.

Some glaring omissions from the year's paltry 182 total were whinchat (again); spotted flycatcher; wheatear (honest) and plenty of other 'easy' species too.

It shouldn't be too much trouble to do a little better in 2008!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Perthcelyn Shrike Hunters

After dipping on Thurs 3.Jan 2008 with Phil Hardwick 3 0f the 4 "Boxers" made a visit to Perthcelyn near Llanwonno in search of the elusive returning Great Grey Shrike which was revisiting it's wintering grounds for the 3rd year.
I picked up Dan,together with Gethin ("The Twitchmeister") and Gwenni and we made our way up to Perthcelyn via Ynysybwl,we had arranged to meet Wayne at the parking area but a phonecall on our way up from Wayne confirmed that he would be late through having to make a detour as the road over the mountain from the Rhondda was closed.
At this point I should mention that Tim should have been invited to join us but a certain member of "Boxers" with a hyphonated brain as well as surname forgot to send a text !!
Anyway we made our way up to the clear fell area where the bird has most often been seen hoping as we walked to have flushed a Snipe or if we were really lucky a Jack Snipe,no such luck though I'm afraid.
We climbed the gate into the clear fell area and after walking about halfway up the fell we spotted the shrike on top of a tree at the back of the area.
I "digiscoped a few photos but the bird was always some distance away so a good close up was impossible.
The shrike although showing well was very mobile and moved from treetop to treetop getting further from us all the while.
A phone call from Wayne confirmed that he had caught us up but he had taken a different route from the parking area and ended up at the top of the fell area,ever thought that you were being watched !!
We watched the bird for about 45 mins firstly as it chased a Meadow Pipit and then punching well above it's weight the little blighter even had a go at a passing crow !!
"The Twitchmeister" was pleased as this was yet another "lifer" for his ever growing list,that's about 4 already in 2008 and I'm sure the list will grow and grow as the year progresses.
Wayne joined us and we continued to watch the shrike until it finally disappeared from view,
we scanned the forestry in hope of a Goshawk but were out of luck on this occasion and so headed back to our cars.
On the return walk we bumped into our new GBC Webmaster Dan Freidman with his lovely wife Alison who were also going in search of the shrike,it was the first time any of us had met Dan and it was nice to put a face to the name.
Whilst we were chatting at the parking area a passing Sparrowhawk and a Common Buzzard added to the day list.
To wrap up the morning we called into Lisvane Reservoir to add the lingering Spotted Sandpiper to our 2008 year lists but the bird was nowhere to be seen preferring to feed at the adjacent Llanishen Reservoir well out of sight,oh well there's always next time.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year, same birds

I was unexpectedly, and at very short notice, allowed out to play on Jan 1st, having quickly rattled up over 20 species from the house, whilst looking after Rosie early morning (highlights Redwings, several Jays and a Grey Wagtail). Roath Park Lake produced the usual stuff, and so off to Castell Coch. An hour later, many common woodland species, but only two Bramblings. Dave Bush and Matt Evans were also noted in winter plumage. Lisvane Res produced Spotted Sandpiper, and Peterstone Gout at high tide produced another dozen or so species, including 50+ Pintails, Knot and Grey Plover. No owls showed at a site east of the River Rhymney, but it was lunchtime. A brisk drive to Cosmeston produced a flyover flock of Lapwings. At the human infested lakes, the Scaup present were soon found, and a hasty reteat made. The River Taff near Western Avenue still had 3 Goosander, that I'd seen a few weeks earlier, and so off to Forest Farm for the rest of the daylight. The expected Bullfinches were elusive, with only one, a female seen. Reed Buntings were numerous, but time was running out. Green Woodpecker, Water Rail, and more surprisingly, Tawny Owl were heard, and that was it....68 species seen and those last 3 heard only. Not bad for Cardiff and the surrounding area.