I think by now I’ve taken things far beyond the realm of suspense..! Apologies for my two week absence, despite even finding time to blog during a recent holiday, I have just been far too busy these past two weeks!
As I stumble through life I find myself thinking “I must mention that on naturebites”. One such incident was a recent twich to see three stunning Dotterel that had landed on Anglesey. I’ve had the blog title “Dot.Dot.Dotterel” in my head ever since. With almost two weeks having passed since then I thought it was just a little out of date. Those round, colourful birds are still getting a mention though. I was particularly impressed to find that these striking specimens were female, showyness mostly associated with the males of a species. Following on from this, it may interest you to know that this reversal in aesthetics is a sign of their reversal in habits also, with the males left to rear the young.
There was an initial delay in updating the blog because I was awaiting the results of the ‘Together for Trees’ Rainforest Reporter competition. The result came in on the Tuesday following the final and I was told not to broadcast the news until it had been made public by the Together for Trees team… I am pleased to report that they found a worthy winner by the name of Gareth Jones. Of course it was very disappointing not to win, but it was also very pleasing to know that a great person would be going in my place (Welsh readers are probably also pleased to read that a characteristically Welsh name will be flying the flag!).
The same Tuesday that I found out the results of the competition, I also visited the RSPB Glaslyn Osprey project and Harlech castle in the afternoon. The weather was pretty miserable as we pulled into the RSPB carpark and as we looked through the telescopes to view the nest, the rain was driving straight through the holes in the hide. Moving indoors, we saw on the live cameras the three chicks that were now hatched (one just the day before) and their mother stood proudly at their side.
Last week a mega rarity made it to our shores, the Cream-coloured Courser in Herefordshire. I want to share with you the texts I received from Ken concerning this bird. To me, it seems that Ken has seen every bird one could possibly hope to see in Britain and yet it was heart-warming to hear that he is still as wrapped up in our winged-friends as he ever was. Text message number one 21/05/12 10:14am: “Kathy, I know the timing is awful but is it possible you could leave work, Sam (my visiting friend), everyting NOW! and join me on the twitch of a lifetime? A Cream-coloured Courser(!!) has been found in Hereford. I’m leaving in the next few minutes, what do you say? X”. The timing wasn’t great so I sent Ken off without me. Later that day I spoke to a giddy child on the phone who was absolutely over the moon about the bird he had just seen. It was a pleasure to listen to 🙂 Afterwards, text message number two 21/05/12 16:12pm: “Wow! a ‘Stunner’ I’m speechless a dream bird I’m all of a flutter won’t sleep tonight X”. (.,., – here are some punctuation marks for you to insert into Ken’s excited text!). And the following morning, after I enquired if he had managed to sleep…text message three 22/05/12 08:42am: “Very little. I’m still on cloud nine and fearing it was all a dream and I’m guna wake up soon X”. I hope these messages and his love and enthusiasm made you smile as much as I did when I read them.
Another week and another day of work saw me take to the hills as my desire to laze on the beach book in hand was scuppered by a sudden onset of mist over Anglesey. I was right to abandon ship as Ken and I had a marvellous (and sunny) trip out to see Pied Flycatcher and Redstarts in the woods. We started the day revisiting the Nant Ffrancon Pass where we searched for Twite, to no avail, and had a glimpse of a Ring Ouzel along with Redpoll and Mistlethrush. By now it was lunch time, or so said my tummy, and we took our lunch in the spot where we had stopped to scan for Tree Pipits. From the road below we almost instantly saw and heard a Tree Pipit displaying up above us. In the bush in which in landed we were thrilled to see a pair of Whinchat emerge – bonus birds. We sat in the sunshine admiring the view and the birds. Perfect.
On from here we travelled alongside Llyn Gwynant, where there were fields of intense purpley-blue bluebells. These are well worth a look at if you have chance soon as the concentration of flowers was breath-taking!
I first visited the woods at the beginning of the Watkin trail up to the summit of Snowdon with Ken almost exactly a year ago. During that trip, I soon realised that I would never be able to rush in a business-like pace through a woodland again. The wood was alive and the slower I went, the more I would see. This visit took similar form and we dawdled our way around, seeing Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts as well as me catching up with the elusive Wood Warbler that had evaded me this time last year. Such a distinctive and loud call and yet incredibly hard for me to pinpoint. Gotcha this time! Both Ken and I had achy necks after this prolonged session of staring upward – ouch!
Who says social media and the internet discourages real interactions? This week I was I was lucky enough to meet my twitter friends, and winners of ‘best bird’ in the naturebites birdrace this February, @SecretBirder and @chrisdowns77… otherwise known as Josie and Chris the keepers of the blog ‘Not your average birders’ http://notyouraveragebirders.com/. Having met these guys via twitter in was lovely to see them making their way along the ridge towards me at Cemlyn this Sunday (although, I have to say I did stutter as I started to say hello as I realised it may not be them and that some really embarrassing explaination would have to follow). It was them, thankfully, and it was a pleasure to hear about their challenge…Josie (acknowledged birder) is going head to head with Chris (acknowledged novice) to see who can see more bird species in the year than the other. They also have a top ten birds list each which they are aiming to see. On Chris’s list in particular is the magnificent creature that is an Osprey. Unluckily for Chris he had missed an Osprey just a matter of hours earlier at Cemlyn!
Ken knocked on my door to say he’d caught up with a beautiful male redstart that had made an appearance earlier in the day. I was collecting my things to go and have a look as the phone rang, it was David (fellow tern warden) saying “there’s an Osprey above the lagoon!”. I promptly hung up, alerted Ken and gawped as a gigantic Osprey soared towards us from across the lagoon. Wow. I have seen an Osprey previously at Glaslyn where the RSPB have a hide set up to watch the nest. The view I was getting now though was second to none as this pioneering Osprey searched for fish below. Although the terns reacted at first I was surprised at how calm they were in it’s presence. Perhaps they were content to let the gulls see it off? As the gulls mobbed it, the Osprey seemed barely to notice. I wonder if they spend their whole lives wondering at the attention they receive from other birds? After all they are only out fishing.
Bird-wise that topped off an amazing Sunday with loads of birds knocking around at Cemlyn including a hooded crow, whinchat and water pipit!
Although the weather took a nosedive, Monday saw me see my first Swift of the year (finally!). I added to my Swift collection just a couple of hours ago as, sat on the train London bound, I decided to start a ‘train-list’. After this decision, I looked up to see four swifts zooming around above the track near to Llanfairfechan.
Terns are back at Cemlyn in good numbers now and we have sandwich terns incubating. It has been a pleasure to watch their courtship rituals and interactions on the islands. Aside from the glorious terns, a hilarious behavioural moment to watch was a black-tailed godwit (who has spent a few days in the lagoon now) looking from side to side and his seeming alarm when two red-breasted mergansers popped up either side of him. I could almost see him blush!
There’s been a bit of a delay but here are some pictures from my recent holiday to South Wales:
My train journey is almost over now and I am looking forward to tomorrow’s excitement… the final of the ‘togther for trees’ rainforest reporter competition! I am likening it to the apprentice as there will be a board room appearance, hired or fired and a “treat” afterwards (I’ve even brought my wheely suitcase to complete the look!). I’m looking forward to the whole of tomorrow, but am also hoping that I can win the competition as it’s me through and through…I will let you know…Fingers crossed for me!