11th November – Let’s go ‘Surf’ing

Posted: November 13, 2012 in Bird Watching, Birding, Rochdale, Rossendale, Twitching
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On what could probably be our last trip of 2012, apart from any major “twitches”, it was decided to visit one of our favourite places, North Wales. Our target bird was, as the title implies, the Surf Scoter, as one of the team has yet to connect with this species. Up to three Surf Scoter’s have been present in the Llandulas area, but, along with 5/6000 (I think) Common Scoter, can proove difficult to pick out! Myself, along with Chris & Steve Brown left a dark and misty Rochdale at 6-30am and as it got lighter the mist cleared and apart from a small rain flurry a nice day was in prospect. We reached a new viewing area above the quarry in Llandulas and were soon joined by other birders looking for the Surf Scoter’s, after an hour we had drawn a blank. Time to try to catch up with another species that has thwarted us this year, Purple Sandpiper. Rhos-on -Sea point has had quite a few Purple Sandpipers in the wintertime in the past, so, as it was high tide it was time to try. Lots of Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Dunlin were sheltering on the rocks upon our arrival and Steve was already taking pictures of them, then we found a single Purple Sandpiper only 4 yards away, it was a really nice bird and it give two of us a new bird for the year!

The 80 + Waxwings in the shopping area of Llandudno was our next port of call,we saw a lot sat in the tall trees in the area but none were very photogenic. We met an “old” twitching friend of ours from Wales, Ian Evans. We all had a good chat, and then after a check of Ian’s pager we learned that the Surf Scoter had been seen again at Llandulas. Off we go again, Chris got to know the way there and as we arrived there was no-one watching anything? A few other birders assembled in the hour we tried to find the bird, but with just a Velvet Scoter for our troubles, it was not located again (Bummer). It appears that you just have to be lucky to drop onto this bird from this watchpoint. At this point I told the tale of watching one just fifty yards from the rocks many year’s ago, sorry lads. Well, at Conway RSPB, a couple of Firecrest’s had been seen in the morning, perhaps we could catch up with one of these little beauties? We firstly tried the carpark and then spent a while near the pond seeing Redpoll, Dunnock, Blue & Great Tits and Goldcrest but no Firecrest. We headed back to the car, apart from Chris, who was answering a call of nature, luckily for us he heard a “crest” then saw the Firecrest. He rounded us up and we enjoyed good views of the bird, along with a few of the RSPB staff who wondered what all the fuss was about. At this point one of the North Wales birders told us that the Surf Scoter had been seen again, (Bummer X2) we thought,”Third time lucky” and of we went again. Guess what even with a few more birders we didn’t manage to see the bird. Ah well. It lives to be seen another day. The traffic on the busy A55 had ground to a halt, just as we decided to leave, due to a vehicle crash, so, we had to join the long line of traffic that was diverted off through Abergele.We managed to reach Burton Point at the bottom of Station Road and had a nice walk back towards Shotton. We managed to see about five Short-eared Owls, one having a go at a Merlin way out on the marsh. One of the owl’s came quite close and was really stunning. The count of Little Egrets going to roost had reached about 30, when we began to recall how a single Little Egret was such a rarity 25 years ago, we much be getting old? It was time for home, but as we reached Two Mills traffic lights, not far from Burton, another crash had occured and slowed our progress. We got back home at 5:30pm and all had enjoyed a good day’s birding, well apart from the Surf Scoter!


Dave O.

  1. ateambirding says:

    .. I once had close views of a Surf Scoter too…Grafham Water. Unlucky lads.

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