North Wales Birding

We've just got back from a family holiday in Colwyn Bay. The weather was a bit rubbish but we had a really good time anyway. I managed to get in quite a bit of birding, mainly by getting up and going out early. My main aim for the week was to see a male redstart - I've only ever seen a female on Billinge Hill last year and have looked before in Wales but failed.

The first place I went to was the Nant Y Coed nature reserve which is a small but beautiful nature reserve near to Llanfairfechan. I could hear redstart on the higher pathway near to the Dinas but couldn't see them for the life of me. A pair of pied flycatchers in the same area, and a lovely dipper on the way back made it a worthwhile trip though...




 
 
The next day I thought I'd try for the Hawfinch at Caerhun. As I watched the churchyard for hawfinch, I realised that a bird singing above me was very familiar (I've listened to lots of recordings!) but I couldn't place it for some reason. It eventually dawned on me that it was another redstart - I hadn't expected one here! As I moved to try and see it, it flew off to a distant tree but continued singing, it eventually came back again to the original tree and I got my first views and photos...no hawfinch though...
 
 
 
 
On the way home from Caerhun, I had a look up the Sychnant Pass where I've seen chough and cuckoo before but neither were present unfortunately this year.
 
I had another stop off at Rhos on Sea for a quick bit of seawatching. A pair of sandwich tern were chasing each other about. As I looked out to sea, a fin surfaced out of the water quickly followed by two more! I thought it must be a harbour porpoise as I knew they have been present there recently but when I checked my photos later, it turned out that I had seen three bottlenose dolphin.
 
 
 
That afternoon we had a walk to Aber Falls where we could hear cuckoo and saw a dipper nesting halfway up the falls. I thought I was hearing things as another redstart was singing near to the bottom of the falls - my second ever male...
 
 

 

The following morning I thought I'd have a look up the Little Orme - razorbill, kittiwake, fulmar, great black backed gull, peregrine, shag, raven, rock pipit, gannet, and a grey seal were all present.

 
Other notable birds of the week were lesser whitethroat at RSPB Conwy...
 
 
 

 

 

A wood warbler, another pied flycatcher, and another male redstart at Coed Hafod Wood...no hawfinch again though...
 
I promise this is a wood warbler!
And last but not least, some bar tailed godwits on the Menai Straits.
 
I also probably saw a black guillemot while waiting for punch and judy at Llandudno - I didn't have my camera for once though.
 
Being back in St Helens seems a bit boring now, last night I was watching badgers from the patio windows of our holiday house...
 
 
Next year, I'm after hawfinch and goshawk - may as well set my sights a bit higher!
 
 
Damian P


Montagu's Harrier

I've just spent a few days working in Essex and managed to get in a bit of birding. On the way down I saw a Hobby and a Red Kite over the A14 near Kettering, whilst "on site" in Essex I saw a Turtle Dove and a Cuckoo. Yesterday evening I went to King's Fleet near Felixtowe and saw a 1st summer Montagu's Harrier, a male Marsh Harrier and a Channel Wagtail. More photos on my blog.



Montagu's Harrier.


Channel Wagtail.

Bank holiday monday Billinge hill

A parcel of Linnets singing in the gorse next to the hill, literally just above my head with three or four perched conveniently on gorse flowers so I could take shots. Unfortunately my memory reader has failed and ive sent it back to the retailer for a replacement. So I wont have any pics till I receive a new one. What I need to know is do the females have any red on their breasts or is it just the males?
  Also, at the side of the hill were two very tolerant Wheatear and I think I got some good close ups of them on the paths and at the stone circle. I also photographed a small copper butterfly directly in sunlight, a cinnabar moth , large white and saw common blues mating a hare and baby rabbits fleetingly. No wonder this place is great for stoats and weasels!

Red Barn Road Billinge Monday 26th May

Spent almost an hour waiting between 8.45pm -9.45pm to see if the Little Owls often in the area would turn up but no such luck. I was compensated however by watching a Barn Owl for several minutes quartering the fields 250 metres south of Red Barn Road public footpath were it goes behind the farm buildings. http://binged.it/1gw03iv The Barn Owl was flying on the 75m contour mark in an easterly direction towards Billinge.

Eccleston Mere

There wasn't really much around at the Mere this afternoon...

Kingfisher 1
Kestrel 1
Buzzard 1
Willow warbler 1
Whitethroat 3
GS Woodpecker 1 heard
Bullfinch 1 heard
Tufted Duck 2 (m+f)

Orange Tip Butterfly 1
Cinnabar Moth 1

Damian P

Cinnabar Moth


Moth trapping at home

A bit better last night. The Pale Prominent was only the 2nd one I've ever trapped at home.
 
Common Swift 1
Tinea trinotella 2
Argyrethia trifasciata 20
White-shouldered House-moth 1
Mompha subbistrigella 18
Light Brown Apple Moth 20
Bee Moth 1
Flame Carpet 2
Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet 2
Garden Carpet 1
Small Phoenix 2
Common Marbled Carpet 2
Sandy Carpet 1
Common Pug 3
Brindled Pug 2
Double-striped Pug 1
Seraphim 1
Pale Prominent 1
Shuttle Shaped Dart 6
Flame Shoulder 1
Lychnis 1
Clouded-bordered Brindle 2
 
RayB

Mountains Farm area

I had a walk around Mountain's farm this evening after work. For the past few years it's been a good area for yellow wagtail but the crops have all changed this year so I wasn't sure whether they'd still be about. I thought I heard one call once on the dung pile near to Mountain's farm but wasn't sure. I eventually found one in the ploughed field to the west of Heaton House ( http://binged.it/1jJOAXo
). I was nearly giving up as I'd already scanned the field about 10 times...

Yellow wagtail 1m
Grey Partridge 1
Lapwing 1
Tree Sparrow 10+
Yellowhammer 2
Whitethroat 3
Willow warbler 1

Damian P

Stoat on a path at the side of Billinge Hill this morning from about 20-25 yards away. Lots of whitethroats and usual stuff, may have been a sedge warbler too but it wasn't visible!

Eccleston Mere

The sedge warbler was singing away in the hedge between the boat timing hut and the water outlet - it refused to show itself though.

Sedge warbler 1
Bullfinch 2 (1m,1f)
Linnet 2 (1m,1f)
Whitethroat 5+
Chiffchaff 2
Willow warbler 3
Blackcap 2
GS Woodpecker 1f
Treecreeper 1
Kingfisher 1 in the dead wood
Tufted duck 2 (1m,1f)

Orange tip 1
Speckled wood 1

Damian P

Bold Moss

I went for a walk round Bold Moss this afternoon and recorded my first dragonflies of the year plus a few other species.
 
Four-spotted Chaser 4
Large Red Damselfly 80+
Azure Damselfly 2
Blue-tailed Damselfly 2
Small Copper 1
Common Blue 6
Orange Tip 1
Speckled Wood 2
Small Tortoiseshell 2
Large White 3
Green-veined White 3
7-spot Ladybird 20+
Common Carder-bee 3
Epiblema scutulana 1
Cydia ulicetana 1
Pyrausta aurata 2
Cinnabar 1
Little Grebe 2
Whitethroat 1
Blackcap 1
Chiffchaff 1
Willow Warbler 2
 
RayB

Moth trapping at home

Argyresthia trifasciata 20
White-shoulder House-moth 1
Bryotropha affinis 1
Mompha subbistrigella 8
Light Brown Apple Moth 27
Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet 2
Small Phoenix 1
Common Pug 2
Poplar Hawk-moth 1
Cinnabar 1
Shuttle Shaped Dart 3
Flame Shoulder 1
Small Square-spot 1
Cabbage Moth 1
Clouded-bordered Brindle 1
Rustic Shoulder-knot 1
 
RayB

Eccleston Mere

Common Scoter 4 flew over at 6am
Mandarin 2 males
Kingfisher 1
Mute Swan 1 adult
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2

The scoter circled over the mere and then flew off west.

Moth trapping at home

A few new species for the year last night, but still not great
 
Argyresthia trifasciata 30
White-shouldered House-moth 4
Bryotropha affinis 3
Mompha subbistrigella 3
Mompha epilobiella 3
Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 11
Twenty-plume Moth 1
Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet 1
Garden Carpet 1
Common Marbled Carpet 2
Common Pug 1
Poplar Hawk-moth 1
Shuttle Shaped Dart 3
Rustic Shoulder-knot 1
 
RayB

Eccleston Mere

Common Sandpiper 2
Oystercatcher 1 flew over
Mandarin 3 (2 males, 1 female)
Swift 50
Kingfisher 1
Mute Swan 1 adult

Eccleston Mere

Mandarin 2 males
Kingfisher 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2 feeding young in nest hole
Mute Swan 1
Swift 10
Swallow 10
House Martin 5

Diary Farm Road

I had a quick look down Dairy Farm Road, and part of the Old Coach Road this afternoon. The wheatear was in the first ploughed field on the left of Diary Farm Road.

Wheatear 1m
Grey Partridge 2
Whitethroat 4
Chiffchaff 1
Blackcap 2

Damian P

Sandy Lane (Bold)

Yellow Wagtail
Kestrel
Plenty of Swallows
Cheers
Howard

Sent from my iPhone

Eccleston Mere

Sedge Warbler 1 singing in hedge near yacht club
Mandarin 1 male
Gadwall 1 male
Mute Swan 1
Whitethroat 5 singing

The first Sedge Warbler I've heard at the mere this year. Not a single Swift seen this morning!

Dotterel, Pendle Hill

Today I went up to Pendle Hill with Ray in the hope of seeing Dotterel. What an experience! More photos and a full write up on my blog.


Eccleston Mere

Common Sandpiper 1
Mandarin 1 male
Swift 300
Whitethroat 5 singing
Chiffchaff 1 singing
Willow Warbler 1 singing

Eccleston Mere

Garden Warbler 1 singing in hedges around the first field on right after yacht club.
Gadwall 1 male
Swift 100
Whitethroat 5 singing males

Eccleston Mere

Swift 200
Swallow 80
House Martin 50
Sand Martin 20
Kingfisher 1

This was the first time I've seen hirundines or swifts in large numbers this year.

Paul B Owls

Hi Paul my email is Montyboy2011.com@me.com
Any info would be tremendous mate.
Cheers
Howard Arends

Sent from my iPhone

We're Proud Fathers!

At least 2 baby lapwing in the field opposite Simms Rd Pub, Garswood.

They look at least a couple weeks old too.

Paul B

Sent from my iPod

Owls in St Helens

Has anybody seen any type of Owl at Eccleston Mere this year?
I myself haven't. Best place to look etc, if there is any about or for that matter anywhere in St Helens! Not seen one of the five types at all this year so far...It's not for not trying either.
Cheers
Howard.

Sent from my iPhone

Wheatear x10

Not sure how this info was missed of my last post but there were at least 10 wheatear in a just ploughed field at Garswood yesterday too.

Paul B

Sent from my iPod

Moth trapping at home

A bit better catch but still fairly quite at the moment
 
Argyresthia trifasiata 2
Brown House Moth 1
White-shouldered House-moth 1
Esperia sulphurella 1
Mompha subbistrigella 3
Light Brown Apple Moth 3
Small Phoenix 1
Common Marbled Carpet 1
Shuttle Shaped Dart 3
Flame Shoulder 1
Cabbage Moth 1
Clouded-bordered Brindle 1
 
RayB

Billinge Hill and surrounding area

Raven 2 between Crank Road and Mountains Farm
Grey Partridge 4 (2 at the top of the hill at Promised land farm and 2 near the bottom)
Whitethroat 5+
Chiffchaff, blackcap, yellowhammer, skylark, willow warbler all present.

Brown Hare 5

Damian P

Forgot the reed warbler!

Several singing in the reeds around the pool behind the sewage works at Garswood.

Paul B

Sent from my iPod

An unexpected find

Stopped if at the sewage works nr Simms Rd, Garswood as I'd visited last year when it was fairly new I think.

Last year there were a couple of muddy sludge pools which looked like they may attract an sandpiper but I didn't visit often enough.

One of the settling beds was planted with reeds but this year they don't seem established enough to hold any warblers.

Upon visiting today I could see lots of swallows and house martins whilst reed bunting, yellowhammer and skylark could be heard - a nice start.

A scan of the adjacent fields revealed a couple of lapwing and an oystercatcher which turned out to be part of the safest nesting pairs in the county, as they are behind an 8 ft fence!

Just then a couple of duck flew over which were tempting to dismiss as mallard but turned out to be a pair of shoveler! Where had they come from? I found out later as behind these works is a large reed lined pool with dead trees and established willow scrub, looks good for flycatchers.

Here is a rough location

Eccleston Mere

Mandarin 2 males
Swift 4
Whitethroat 5 singing
Plus lots of common species singing




Cairngorms

Just got back from an excellent weekend in Speyside and the Cairngorms, which included a walk up Ben MacDui and lots of Ptarmigan and Snow Bunting. Here are a few photos. More on my blog.





Woodland Burial Site and Old Coach Road

We had a quick look at the woodland burial site this afternoon off Blindfoot Road to choose my plot!
There was a shelduck and two oystercatchers on the little pond on the way in and goldcrest, chiffchaff, and blackcaps singing in the woods.

Afterwards we walked along Mossborough Hall Lane to the Old Coach Road, it was very windy and there wasn't much about. Three more oystercatchers and three wheatear in the ploughed field next to the field with cows in were the best birds around.

Damian P

Red Barn Lane, Billinge

A couple of photos from Red Barn Lane, Billinge over the past two days .....

Also I keep forgetting to mention the non-bird species I see, how can I forget that weasel running across the path or the brown hares lolloping in the fields or the teeny baby rabbits!

Speaking of babies I saw some fledged robins and blackbirds

Anyway here are some bird photos ....
 
 
 

 
 
 


Paul B 



A few records from Billinge Hill

A few forwarded sightings from C Darbyshire

 

March 19th … first Chiffchaff of the year singing on SW corner of Billinge Hill landfill.

March 30th … Psychoides filicivora moth larvae on Hart's Tongue Fern by SW landfill path.

April 8th … pr Bullfinches in regular breeding territory by SW of landfill.

April 10th … first 2 singing Willow Warblers on Billinge Hill.

April 10th … Raven, pair with suspected fledged juv flying west over SW corner of landfill 10.25 hrs.

April 14th … 9 singing Willow Warblers + 2 Chiffchaffs on Holiday Moss, and 2 prs Teal on pools by NE corner.

April 14th … a distant large raptor seen from Kings Moss village, probably circling over Higher Lane, Rainford, at 1805 hrs, by myself and Arthur Whittle : views suggested an Osprey (definitely NOT a Buzzard), but mentioned just in case there was any Osprey seen about that time in your area.

April 17th … Brambling sat calling in canopy of mid Billinge Plants 0740 hrs, then in flight eastwards.

April 19th … 2 Ravens circling over top of Shaley Brow 0820 hrs, calling repeatedly, then drifting W or NW; first Swallow back at Beacon Farm on Billinge Hill; female Wheatear on W side of Billinge Plants; Tree Pipit flew high N calling over Billinge Hill at 0904 hrs; 6+ singing Willow Warblers around the Hill.

April 21st … Raven high SE, with rolling display, over N end Billinge Plants 11.10 hrs.

April 23rd … Endothenia marginana moth emerged from Teasel heads collected in Billinge Hill landfill on 3rd March.

April 28th … best and most prolonged views I've ever had, of stunning male Redstart below the beacon on Billinge Hill, between 0740 and 0945 hrs; spent much time foraging on the ground like a chat!!; 2 Grasshopper Warblers together, flushed at a couple of feet range in an area of rank herbage and Raspberry scrub, etc, just SW of Billinge Hill, 0840 hrs; they were right by a pathway, and flew only a couple of yards into a separate stand of Raspberry.  No song, and not seen again in over an hour; only my second record on the Hill.

April 29th … Raven(s) calling repeatedly for about 30-35 mins somewhere in mid Billinge Plants mid pm; not seen.

May 1st … Sedge Warbler in same Raspberry scrub as the groppers.  I'd been stood on the same pathway for about 10 mins, when it popped up in front of me.  A sustained bout of pishing only produced one more quick appearance in about 30 mins.  A first for me on the Hill.  Tenanted case of Coleophora luscinaeapennella moth on Sallow at SW corner of Billinge Plants.

 

Best regards,

Chris Darbyshire.


Eccleston Mere

Common sandpiper 2 on eastern bank in front of houses
Common tern 2
Oystercatcher 3 over
Swift 10-15 - my first swift of the year
Willow tit 1
Kestrel 1 looked like it was eating prey on the wing

Damian P

Swift walk down Red Barn Lane

Just saw my 1st swifts of the years as high up over Red Barn Lane, Billinge. There were 3 of them and they seem to be feeding and drifting north.

I also saw the local little owl.

Paul B

Sent from my iPod

New Flickr Group

Hi, I've set up a new Flickr group to spread the word and share photos of wildlife in and around St Helens.

Hopefully a few sightings may arise this way too a la the bittern of a couple winters ago.

The group is called "St Helens Birds & Wildlife"

Paul B

Sent from my iPod

A Hunch

Hi, I was at the back of Billinge hill again last weekend near the gorse. I had my camera taking a few shots of willow warblers/ chiffchaffs. Suddenly a pair of birds flew from the beacons direction into the gorse. It was only very fleeting and they were soon gone. Because they were silhouetted against the morning sky I couldn't get a proper id. They had thick bills and made a cackling/chuckling noise, its hard to describe it really and that's the best I can do. My immediate thought was hawfinch but its just a hunch as ive never actually seen one. Can anyone take a guess on  my limited description? Have hawfinches ever been spotted around here?