Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Sun, Sea and a bloody Shortie! - Bangor, Gwynedd - 8th February 2011

With beautiful blue skies and no wind, It was hard to believe the weather we witnessed over the weekend. It was a wonderful change so I decided to meet up with Chris down at Bangor Harbour. I suppose this was just to have a quick scan in the lovely weather, but in the back of my mind, I think I wanted to try and find some of the birds we rung at the weekend. We made our way to the north side of the Harbour to a shingle beach overlooking Porth Penrhyn.
The sea was an actual mill pond, so it wasn't long before we began skimming and throwing pebbles! It really wasn't long before I picked up a flock of Oystercatchers flying around very nervously with a pale brown bird of prey amongst them. It was flying very slowly so could only be a harrier sp or an owl. Bins went up to reveal a Short-eared Owl flying down the Menai Straits! It must have been a migrant bird as it eventually banked round and landed in the dunes 100 meters away round the corner. We sprinted round, not realising how close it had landed, flushing it allowing me to get a couple of reasonable record shots of this exciting migrant 'Bangor tick'! Also from this vantage point, we found a group of 7 Pale-bellied Brent Geese that landed on the sea.

Moving round to the harbour wall, we were able to view roosting waders where we saw at least 10 ringed Redshank, which we assumed had been ringed by SCAN (maybe the juvenile we ringed on Saturday was in there?) as well as a very approachable Rock Pipit. Whilst sitting along the harbour wall, we noticed 3 large 'disks' along the tide edge. Closer inspection revealed that they were infact Barrel Jellyfish. These were huge organisms with a bell diameter of at least 40cm. This is apparently the largest true jellyfish in British Waters, and is seemingly harmless.
We soon moved round to the playing fields to the west of Bangor Harbour where we sat on a concrete wall checking for ringed gulls. We quickly spotted two ringed Black-heads that were both ringed on their left leg. Close inspection revealed that they were ringed in Holland (3.61----) and Finland (I originally thought this was 0239892, but Kane Brides has informed me that Finnish Black-heads all start with ST, which could mean that there are multiple birds). I will try and get the full numbers tomorrow.
Whilst trying to read the rings, by feeding the gulls with potentially the nicest chips I have ever had, I spotted a stonking adult Mediterranean Gull which came in close, but didn't come to chips sadly. This is an overdue tick for Bangor for me.

Finnish ringed Black-headed Gull
Dutch ringed Black Headed Gull
We ended the day at the Tesco car park in Bangor, trying to find as the Pied Wagtail roost there. We eventually found c100 birds roosting in a bush, which was next to a very public place, but I personally think they are ringable, so there could well be a ringing session there in the coming weeks with any luck.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable day, and one that just proves you don't need to spent £100 on a train to have a fantastic birding day!
[Ringed Black-headed Gulls update: 09/02/2011 saw another 'vigil' at Bangor Harbour watching the ringed Black-heads. I managed to confirm the Finnish bird as being 'ST 239.892' as well as another forgeign bird, '7T69449' which is a from Belgium. Sadly the Dutch bird wasn't seen today, but I will try again tomorrow with yet more chips!]


Lee Harrison said...

Sounds like a good day, nice pics as well... great work m8...

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