Monday, 19 May 2014
As I've been quite quiet so far this spring, I thought I'd give a quick update on what I've been getting up to! I've been spending the vast majority of my time in the Nant Ffrancon valley doing my Twite fieldwork for my Research Masters. This year is slightly different to last being that I am not wandering aimlessly around the whole of Snowdonia like last year. My project is in relation to the land management of the Nant Ffrancon valley that supposedly benefits the Twite, so I am surveying the valley floor and the managed fields/compartmental areas as much as I can to monitor what the Twite are getting up to.
I have seen a decent number so far. With a flock of 90 birds wintering together at Connah's Quay, we thought there might be a bumper year in 2014, but just before dispersal, the flock split into two and one flock, that had a decent number caught and ringed have had several birds observed in the valley this spring so far. I have seen at least 20 birds in the valley so far, but with a variety of unringed birds, it's hard to tell exactly how many I've seen so far.
I will keep you updated if anything awesome happens and will explain more once I've submitted my thesis (You never know who's reading this! =P)
Thursday, 15 May 2014
In terms of butterflies, May has almost been somewhat of a blip in my life as I am almost always too busy to get out and look for the early specialists. This means that despite being a Lancashire boy, I have never seen Duke of Burgundy. I have also never seen Dingy Skipper, so knowing they're a slightly southern species, I was eager to see if there were any around North Wales.
Information on lepidoptera around North Wales is very much thin on the ground on the internet. I did however happen to see a note saying someone had seen one at Newborough. Knowing this, I looked at a map of Newborough and looked at an area that I thought was quite a likely spot and took a gamble.
After about 2 hours, I scanned a field and saw a couple of small brown lepidoptera that looked to be flying like Skippers, so I got mildly excited and ran over to the area. In the process, I flushed a further three, but they just wouldn't settle. Eventually one did land and revealed itself as the species that had up until now eluded me. Dingy Skipper! Brilliant!
A lovely afternoon in lovely weather.
Thursday, 8 May 2014
I set off from Bangor to Spurn with Conor John on Thursday lunch with the intention on stopping off in Preston to do the Whimbrel roost at Brockholes. That went really well with 187 Whimbrel into roost as well my first Hobby and Swift of the year.
Arriving at Westmere Farm on Friday afternoon, we set up our tent (or should that be, 'Conor set up the tent whilst I wasn't helpful and slowed things down when I tried') and when Daryl Watson, Jonnie Fisk, Scott Reid and Harry Martin arrived, I picked up a Short-eared Owl over by Church Field, which flew right past the tents. Superb start!
Wader migration was evident and you couldn't look into a field with a puddle in it without seeing a small flock of waders, whether that be Bar-tailed Godwits, Whimbrel or even the occasional Golden Plover.
This is a poor record shot/videograb of Golden Plover, but taken in strong wind and poor light at about 300m, I'm pretty pleased.
In amongst the many Brown-tailed Moth cats, we found two Yellow-tailed Moth caterpillars which are gorgeous things!Rhinga campesteris.
And finally Eupeodes sp (probably Eupeodes luniger)
I would like to thank Oliver Simms for aranging the weekend as well as Nathan and Spurn Bird Obs for being so hospitable and adding to the enjoyment. Finally, thanks to Westmere Farm for putting some of us up for the weekend. I'll certainly be going to the next meet up!
All bar the Common Whitethroat were patch ticks, which is superb.
I thought I'd chance it with some ringing and managed to catch a male Grasshopper Warbler and a Common Whitethroat over the course of 3 hours. Both of which were 'ringing ticks' for my C permit and both species I love to see up close.
University Birdwatching Challenge is going very well indeed and Bangor's current species total is 100 species since late December. If I were tracking back further, I'd be able to include Firecrest, Whooper Swan, Lapland Bunting, Arctic Tern, Common Tern, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Knot, Swift, Ring Ouzel, Gannet, Osprey and Red Kite...here's hoping there's time for some more to be added.