by Kathy James

Still enjoying January :-)

It’s been a little while since I wrote… I can only apologise for having too much fun!

Since my last update I spent a few more days in Derbyshire, had a short trip to Sheffield and returned home to Anglesey mid-week. I’ve decided that there’s so much I’d like to share that I’m going to split in to three separate entries.

Sunday 8th was spent in Derbyshire with my darling sister, nephew and brother-in-law (without the law part). As I have mentioned in previous entries, my nephew Jack is only a wee nipper at just over one year old so our little outings with him are perfectly suited to stopping and taking in our surroundings. We had headed out to Cromford (a place one would hope to bump into a Hawfinch) and did the obligatory scout round the churchyard and surrounding area for this most elusive of finches. We didn’t see a Hawfinch but there were Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrest and Jackdaws galore! Plus, Cromford is a designated world hertitage site and well worth a visit. With Jack’s dinner time upon us it was also the perfect excuse to try out the café there – it comes highly recommended and has a huge choice for vegetarians.

After dinner we took a stroll along the disused canal and had numerous encounters with Little Grebes. When I’m on Anglesey I usually see Little Grebes from quite some distance perhaps on a lake and I need to look through a scope to fully identify them. On Cromford canal I had a wonderful opportunity to really study the birds. It appeared that these little fellows were paired up ready for spring and gave us stunning views of them diving down to the bottom of the shallow canal rummaging around in the weeds below.

The following day we took a trip to see Jack’s Grandparents. We met them in the lovely ‘winter gardens’ in Sheffield for a coffee and I’m pretty sure I spied a Peregrine out of the corner of my eye zooming past the cathedral. Meanwhile, inside Jack was captivated by a Feral Pigeon hoovering up around the table.

Tuesday 10th saw my mother and I travelling back to North Wales together in the glorious sunshine. We passed Jack’s daddy, Edd, building a dry stone wall somewhere near Hartington and then made our way westwards.

The following morning Ken, Mum and I took a trip to the beach at Rhosneigr, seeing a few snipe at Llyn Maelog as we arrived. The waves were crashing on to the beach as Pied Wagtails danced on the shingle above and there were Common Gulls, Herring Gulls and Black-headed Gulls to point out to my Mum, now a gull expert 😉 I often feel sad leaving my family behind in Derbyshire and I think that this day Anglesey knew that and welcomed back all my senses. What struck me the most about being down on that beach on Rhosneigr was the smell, the intoxicating smell of the sea. It certainly affected my Mum too and we stood admiring the dramatic views of Holy Island over to our right and the picturesque beach sprawling away to our left. The Islands just out to sea here are home to Tern colonies in summer under protection by the RSPB. Mum’s train back was at two so we spent a few hours out in the open air, had a Stilton and Broccoli Soup at a café in Four Mile Bridge and then Ken and I waved Mum on her way.

Wednesday evening was another visit to Bangor and a talk at Bangor Bird Group ( Don’t let the name put you off if birds are not the be all and end all for you – there are also talks in conjunction with the North Wales Wildlife Trust from all manner of guests). This date was billed as the talk ‘not-to-be-missed’ and, as it turned out, quite rightly! Martin Garner is something of an oracle when it comes to bird ID. So for someone like myself who is challenged to identify species of bird it was amazing to hear how Martin can also pick up on their origins, for example Russian Herring Gulls at a glance. Martin was an inspirational speaker. Whether you applied his mantras to birding or to any other aspect of life it still worked. His basic message to us was that of passion. He is obviously a man in love with his line of work and wanted to share his knowledge and passion with anyone willing to listen. Although some of the information accompanying various slides of birds may have been a bit technical, the talk also appealed to the most novice of wildlife enthusiasts. The underlying message being get to know your common birds, plants, or whatever it is you have a penchant for and the rarities will soon become apparent to you. I cannot agree more.

First and foremost I am a wildlife lover and for most of my life have been seemingly oblivious to the winged creatures in the sky. It is only in the past couple of years that my love affair with birds has blossomed and only in the last 14 months that I had truly paid attention to detail. In that short space of time I have learnt so much about birds that I can now feel confident in my identifications. That’s not to say I always know what just zoomed by, but I have had enough encounters with quite a variety of birds that I have developed a sort of sense for what is it front of me. I have gained an appreciation for size, shape, colour, habitat, sound and movement of birds which means I am now able to make educated decisions about what I have just seen. Twelve months ago I would look in a bird guide and I would have no idea on the differences between many birds, especially if I then saw them in the field. I wouldn’t have believed that I could confidently go outdoors and identify most of the birds I see. Then when there is a bird that doesn’t fit my recognition system in terms of size, colour, shape etc then the ‘spider senses’ start tingling and I think perhaps this is something different. This is the same phenomena that birders like Martin Garner, or indeed Ken feels… I am just somewhere way down the scale of complexity! So, Martin’s recognition of minute details on some far away gull isn’t inconceivable to me, I just need to keep on looking!

More to come this week!

Kathy x

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2 responses

  1. Nat

    Sounds like you’ve been up to loads love, hope to be able to come see you some point this year as the car is running again and I have some talks in the Cardigan area during the summer. You can give me the patch tour.

    Love from the Islands. N

    January 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    • Oh yes please 🙂 Can’t help you on the Cardigan patch though :s Let me know when you are coming this way. Are you still going to be able to take part in the birdrace my dear? It’s fast approaching!

      January 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm

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