Friday, 25 January 2013

Joining the Footit100 club! - 25th January 2013

Wonderfully dark-headed Common Gull that momentarily gave me a fright!
Setting off before first light this morning, Matt and I decided to walk to Llanfairfechan and back as part of our Footit challenge. Matt went a couple of days ago and picked up lots of birds that I need and we couldn't allow that!
We arrived at the Spinnies/Aber Ogwen NR just outside Bangor for dawn and almost the first bird I picked up on the sea was a Smew! This is a redhead that was present over the Christmas period that Matt managed to get when he came back to Bangor after the New Year but hadn't been seen since so I was really worried I wouldn't get it on the list. I was very very happy to get this!
Golden Plover was a bird I really didn't think I would get on my Footit list as they are certainly not common on the NW.Wales Coast
The walk between The Spinnies and Abergwyngregyn, I picked up three footit ticks in the form of 10 Golden Plover, 2 Grey Plover and a candidate for the best bird of the day which I noticed calling behind us as we were scanning the Curlew flocks. It was obviously a crest, but it just didn't sound right for Goldcrest as it got 'more excited' as the call progressed. It was in fact a Firecrest! Fantastic! A great bonus for patch and Footit. Matt almost managed to 'grip back' Skylark off me as we were watching and listening for the crest.
1 of 4 Stonechat seen at Morfa Madryn NR. Another bird I didn't think I'd get, so a real bonus!
Walking from Morfa to Llanfairfechan, I picked up Stonechat for my Footit which I also believe to be a patch tick as I can't remember ever seeing one along this coast.
Seawatching off Llanfairfechan, we picked up lots of Red-throated Divers, Razorbill, Fulmar which were all ticks as well as 4 Slavonian Grebe.
After seawatching at Llanfairfechan, we walked back via the sewage works near Morfa Madryn. It's a place I've never birded before, but what a little gem! There were just 100's of birds around such as Redwing, Meadow Pipit, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Robin, Dunnock, Wren and Goldcrest all feeding on presumably invertebrates on the sewage plant. In the surrounding bushes, there was a hive of activity with lots of crest flocks. All of a sudden, I caught sight of a very angry little face and was amazed that I was looking at my 2nd Firecrest of the day! We saw the bird on and off throughout the 30 minute stay, but we were pretty sure there was a second, but with the speed that crests can move, we couldn't be sure. Possibly the highlight of the day came in the form of a warbler and this was a Chiffchaff! I spotted a fantastically green bird in the bushes that I was confident to be a 'collybita', but 5 minutes later, I spotted basically a white blob in the bushes at the back of the plant. Frantically getting my scope on it, I was very shocked that it was a Chiffchaff and a bloody cold one at that! It has an obvious supercillium, very cold breast and belly with slightly darker wings and when it flapped it's wings, I noted a lemony wash to the underside of the carpal and front auxiliaries. I was pretty confident this was a Siberian (tristis) Chiffchaff, so I fired off a few shots to at least get a record. The photos are horrible, but they at least show the coldness of the bird.

A fantastic day for the two of us and we are both now on 103 for our patch/footit list.
My 'Footit ticks': Smew, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Firecrest, Stonechat, Razorbill, Red-throated Diver, Fulmar, Chiffchaff
Matt's 'Footit ticks': Firecrest, Skylark, Razorbill, Fulmar, Chiffchaff.

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