Posts Tagged ‘Common Scoter’


Another one of our, “looked forward to” trips, was last Sunday. With Bob K at the wheel nearly a full A Team left Rochdale on a cold spring like morning at 6am heading for World`s End in North Wales. Lots of frost around greeted us in the elevated area and even at the early hour quite a few birders had assembled to witness something very special. It was a Black Grouse lek! Firstly around 5 male birds showing their absolute finery and making lots of bubbling sounds as they went toe to toe with the nearest other male. Then we moved to the main lek in which we estimated around 25 males all having some input to this great spectacle in the bird world! They were later joined by a few females who sat around the edges enjoying the show. You can never tire of watching this unusual activity. Quite a few Raven were flying around and “gronking” sounds were all around at one time. In a small larch copse we saw Crossbill, Siskin & Goldcrest and as the grouse lek ended we had a search for a Great Grey Shrike that was a regular winter visitor to these parts. We stopped along the small road as a few other birders were watching something, it was a very distant Great Grey Shrike. We moved on and found another shrike ourselves about 1/2 mile away, the bird quickly made its exit and was not seen again. We moved into the Conway valley to search for the Hawfinch at Llan Bedr y Cenin, we were not lucky on this occasion but were treated to great views of a few Red Kites that have moved into this beautiful area. With the tide being in, a trip to Morfa Madryn (The Spinnies) was next, but frankly it was a little bit of a let down as nothing new was seen, apart from one of the bringer’s of the spring a singing Chiff Chaff which was very nice. News of Surf & Velvet Scoters near Old Colwyn had us dashing up the coast to try to find them. None of us really knew were we where heading for but we must have found the right spot as there were some other birders present. We asked the question about the Surf Scoters and we got the negative (usual) reply! With a flat sea and the sun behind us we began to search through the ever-moving flock of thousands of Common Scoter. We must have a chance of picking one up of these resplendent American sea ducks. Luckily it was myself that finally found a cracking drake Surf Scoter, we really deserved to find one after many hours of searching in unfavourable conditions didn’t we? It did not end there with up to 6 male Velvet and a further 3 more Surf Scoter being found. A few Fulmar,Brent Geese, Red Throated Divers,Guillemot & Razorbills were also seen, a really excellent haul. A very, almost tame Iceland Gull had been present on the beach at Pensarn for a while now so we called in to see it and take a few pictures, guess what? it had flown off just before we got there! A few Ringed Plovers made up our day in North Wales and the usual traffic problems haunted us on the way home, but it had all been worth it as we all got around 10+ new birds for the year lists. Cracking day out.

Dave O.

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A Little Bustard was found near Bridlington,Yorkshire on New Year`s Eve. A couple of the A Team had not seen this species before, so a trip was planned for Friday the 2nd January (not our usual New Year`s Day trip due to poor weather forecast,Big Mistake) Now Steve K not really known for his “quick off the mark” theory to twitching, took his good lady out on New Year`s Day and saw the Little Bustard,well done Steve. On a bitterly cold morning the other 4 members of the A Team left Newhey at 7am reaching Fraisthorpe by 9am with myself driving. The narrow road down to the beach car park was surrounded by around 100+ birders all looking rather sad, the bird had not been seen or froze to death? After about an hour we decided to rescue what was left of the day and head for Bridlington Harbour. It’s around 25 years since most of us have been there, when we did an RSPB “Seabird Cruise”. A couple of Purple Sandpipers and lots of Turnstones were seen. A call at South Landing, Flamborough was next with Rock & Water Pipits seen, quite a few Red Throated Divers and a few Common Scoter also. A visit to the Grindale area was next but, to continue the “dipping” theme of the day, no sign of the reported Rough Legged Buzzard. On the journey over to Wakefield we would have expected to see a couple of Red Kite`s, but they were also not seen. At the Calder Wetlands near Wakefield the Blyth`s Pipit was looked for twice and the theme continued we just not connecting. A few duck species were added then a Common Snipe was seen and declared “Bird of the Day”. A day to forget really as it was very cold. A nice early return over the hill into Lancashire and we all hoped for better luck in 2015. Around 60 species were seen on the day so not a bad start.

Dave O.


Whilst one of our number was watching the Great Spotted Cuckoo in Pembrokeshire and another doing his conservation thing the 3 remaining members of the A Team (Steve B, myself and Chris B at the wheel) headed for North Wales. Our target was the Black Grouse at the well named World’s End, we left Brooks End at 6am and arrived at our destination by 7-30am. A bit of frost about but not snowbound like last year! Three aptly named Blackcocks were soon seen at the side of the track and about 30 birds in total were seen during our short visit. Its advisable to stay in your car so not scare the birds and you should have reasonable sightings. Raven, Skylark and lots of Meadow Pipits were seen but the Great Grey Shrike was not around and a couple of fly past Siskin made up the sightings. Up to 8 Surf Scoter have been seen each day from Pensarn Beach over the last week or so, must be worth a go then? The wind was fairly strong from the west as we arrived and the tide was in and the light perfect, but if you dont get all 3 at the same time your chances of seeing them are very limited. After about an hour of watching Common Scoter and a few passing Red Throated Divers, we decided to go without any success, the wind was blowing us about that much!. A nice Snow Bunting was seen on the seawall though. We headed off to Aber Ogwen / The Spinnies, were two Chiff-Chaffs were singing away, they gave this delightfull nature reserve a spring like feel. A Water Rail feeding below the bird feeders and a distant Slavonian Grebe and two Greenshank made up the species. A little detour to see some Chough`s followed and after a bit of good bird observation by Steve B two of these captivating birds were seen. Another visit to Llandulas and again Pensarn still drew a blank with the Surf Scoters, mind you they were not reported from any other birders on Sunday. A quick look in at Haughton Green Pool near Warrington did not reveal the hoped for Black necked Grebe’s but lots of people walking their dogs and low water did not help. Home by 5-30pm, with around 8 new birds for the year.

Dave O.


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!

Regards,

Dave O.


None of us have ever been to Hilbre Island, just off the Wirral, so, on Sunday we decided to go! The reason was that one of the team needed to connect with Leach’s Petrel and a sighting of Long Tailed Skua would be appreciated for both of the other lads. There had been some action on the sea during the week with high winds etc. and as the forecast was just as bad, we all donned extra waterproofing. Leaving Rochdale, nice and early we reached West Kirby at 7:40am and encountered 2 almost naked gentlemen ( totally naked waist down), who had been swimming in the marine lake, we are not alone being a little eccentric birdwatching then are we? The weather was not going to script, it was not very windy and fairly mild, though the wind did get up once we were on the island. After working out which path to take, at 8:07 we headed of along the mile plus of sand, rocks, seaweed and sticky mud( I think it was mud??) reaching Middle Hilbre and onto Hilbre itself at around 9-00am.

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A few other birders later joined us at what looked like a lifeboat slipway with a birding hide above it. We made camp and began watching the in rushing tide, a few Grey Seals were fun to watch as they did their “surfing”. It wasn’t very long when we saw our first skua of the day a distant Arctic Skua chasing one of the many Sandwich Tern’s that were around. Great Skua soon followed on, then a Pomarine Skua was on view for a while as it flew around the wind turbines and green buoys chasing more terns until they dropped there prey. Gannets, Red throated Divers, Scoters and lots of waders were also seen over the high tide period. The highlight though was a juvenile Long Tailed Skua that flew towards and almost over were we were stood! A Great Northern Diver was seen with a Red Throated Diver and a nice comparison was made. A stunning Peregrine had flushed a lot of the waders on the way out to the island. As the tide began to retreat we had a look for other birds on the island and found:-20 Linnet, 1 Robin, 1 Swallow, 4 Meadow Pipit, 1 Pied Wagtail and a brief look at a Wheatear. All in all we really enjoyed the experience of visiting a remote island. The walk back was made a little quicker with the news of a Blue Winged Teal at Southport. Off we go through the tunnel again, this time the weather was dreadful with almost storm conditions welcoming us to Marshside Reserve, Southport. Met an old birding friend of mine and he said that the duck had not been seen for over an hour, we gave it 45 minutes, but, the weather was apalling and not as they say, “good weather for ducks”. We also missed a “Great White Egret” that was possibly, just a close to the road, Little Egret,there’s me being scepticle again! By now home and some dry clothes were beckoned, we reached home by 7-00pm, another excellent day’s birding.

Regards,
Dave Ousey.


With the arrival of a Long Toed Stint (the bird had been all manner of birds until re-identified) in Sussex a “twitching team” was assembled Bob the Twitch couldn’t make it until nearer weekend (well done Bob) so an early blast off had to wait. As happens so often the bird was not seen again and the whole trip was cancelled! Whilst visiting a local supermarket a check of the birdnews revealed that a Sandhill Crane had been seen in Aberdeenshire. Must ring Bob the Twitch, he was expecting my call and said he would go and Andy and Mark from York also. We left at midnight picked up the York contingent and headed up the A1 went straight through to Edinburgh and swopped drivers. The journey along the A1 had been fraught with:- roadworks, speed cameras, convoys, ambulances etc, etc. We finally had to run the gauntlet through the early morning “rush-hour” traffic in Aberdeen. Reaching the general area, St Combs, had been placed into the “safe hands” of  Bob the Twitch, we did a few cart tracks,farm buildings etc, until in a state of utter desperation we had to get directions from a local lady (many thanks to her) who told us in a beautiful scotch accent to look for the “brown hut”. We found it at 8-30am with about 5 cars in attendance. Mark decided to change into his boots and by this time we had run up a field and saw the bird, a beautiful, large Sandhill Crane. The bird was watched for about 2 hours as it serenly strode about feeding in a stubble field and even had a little dance to see the local crows off. It flew out of view and we decided it was time to head south. 4 Lapland Buntings and a few thousand Pink Footed Geese were also seen. We called in at Black Dog,  just north of Aberdeen, as the weather began to get worse and did a 20 minutes seawatch adding:- 10+ Black Throated Divers, Slavonian Grebe, 2 Long Tailed Ducks, 3 Sandwich Tern and masses of Eider and Common Scoter, but not the hoped for Black Scoter! We reached Aberdeen at lunchtime then had a stop on route at Abingdon, reaching home at 9-30pm a mere 22 hours after leaving! Andy did well to sleep most of the way, Mark had to listen to my drivelings about past twitches (his ears must have been buzzing) and Bob the Twitch did really well to steer his Mazda into all the right places,well done to all!

Regards,

The Stig (Ozzy)


Our annual trip to the “sunny” isle will be remembered by those in attendance, not for a bird, but the site of a beautifully marked Adder not 4 feet from us as we watched the seabird colony at South Stack, Holyhead. It was on view for about 2 minutes and for the lads who remembered the Korean war it was the first time any of us had ever seen this species! After adding Puffin, Rock Pipit, Chough and distant Manx Shearwater`s we had a walk around and watched lots of Silver Studded Blue Butterflies, again a new species for most of us. A trip into Holyhead harbour revealed a couple of Black Guillemot`s. Now my favourite part of the trip Cemlyn Bay for a look at the tern colony that has been there ever since adam was a lad. Lots of Sandwich, Common and a few Arctic Terns are in the colony. They are all enjoying a good breeding year with 500 chicks having hatched already. A Roseate Tern had been seen for the last couple of days and it was eventually picked out in amongst the masses and showed really well,what a cracker! We called in at Llanfairfechan on the way home not really expecting to see any Common Scoter but a small flock of about 80 birds lingered not far from the wind farm turbines, these monstrosities are not nice but they are good for picking birds out and for giving directions onto birds though! Memorable day.