Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Melanitta saves the day! - N.Wales coast - 8th March 2011

I'm guessing there will be a few readers out there that are not in the slightest bit interested in the ringing trainging that I am currently taking part in, and are maybe a little disappointed in the lack of 'birding' posting I have done of late. This post is for you!

It is a rare occurance that there are two lifers less that 30 miles away from me and especially 2 american vagrants. Bonaparte's Gull is a bogey bird of mine, of which I have never been able to find a bird that I could easily 'twitch', so when I found out that there was a returning adult wintering bird on the north coast of Anglesey, I was really up for it! I hadn't realised that it was pretty hard to get to for a student without a car. I finally gave in and decided to get the bus from Bangor Train Station and was at the lovely seaside village of Moelfre mid-morning. It was about a mile and half's walk to the beach at Lligy bay where I began scanning on the incomming tide.
There was no sign of the bird all morning and by 1pm, I decided to call it quits and start the treck back to Moelfre. It wasn't a complete waste of time however as I got several yearticks in the form of: Razorbill, Kittiwake, Red-throated Diver, Fulmar and best of all 4 summer plumaged Black Guillemot. I was rather depressed when I got back to Bangor and had planned to call it a day and go back for a warm shower, but I didn't want my first 'Twitch' for a while to be a fail, so within a couple of minutes, I had bought a train ticket to Colwyn Bay where I arrived at 3.30, ready to start scanning for Sea ducks. Within the first 10 seconds of scanning, I found a large raft of Common Scoter stretching about 1 mile across which was hard to estimate in the rising and falling sea, but I would suggest there were c4000 Common Scoter present. Every so often, a group of 25+ individuals would lift off the water and relocate. This is how I eventually managed to catch sight of 4 inidividuals with white wing panels - Velvet Scoter...superb!
The wind started picking up, and my body was telling me to give up scanning and head back home for a brew...'2 more scans' I remember telling myself and on that first scan, I suddenly caught sight of 2 white blobs on a bird. SURF SCOTER! and then a 2nd bird. This was a lifer and the 3rd day these two have been present for the 2nd year in a row. Result! This is another species that is somewhat of a bogey bird for me, mainly because whenever one is seen off the Fylde coast, I am nowhere to be seen, and I am basically just in the wrong place at the right time!
With views of over 600 meters distance, I think I prefer the views you get of birds in the hand currently, but the twitcher inside me will always be hungry for more!

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