News archive

February 2010

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Starling perched on wall

Finger on the pulse !

A quick call to Bird Line Wales late Saturday night showed that the Velvet Scoter flock was now off Pen-Sarn, a few miles along the coast from Llanfairfechan, and so we made the decision to go there instead. Risky, yes, but as we've said before 'fortune favours the bold' ! And what a change it turned out to be. We found many hundreds of Common Scoter offshore and with them at least 25 Velvet Scoter - their white wing flashes showing clearly in the mid morning sun. As the tide came in the birds got closer but unfortunately the swell increased making them more difficult to see. Large numbers of Great Crested Grebe and Red Throated Divers swam or flew around - with some of the former carrying out their courtship routines. After watching the end of the Pen-Sarn 5km run (the finishing line being close to where we had set up camp) we moved back along the coast to Gronant looking for an elusive Shore Lark that had been around for a few weeks. Sadly, and despite working very hard in the worsening weather, we came away with only a few Snipe and a lovely male Stonechat. We missed the Lark by seconds - apparently accidentally flushing the bird so that it flew past a very grateful birder ! Onwards and upwards, we raced along the road down the Conwy Valley to Llanbedr-y-Cennin for the Hawfinch. After a mishap of losing a few of the group on the way there, we all managed to catch up with a pair of Hawfinch high in a tree. Absolutely superb views we gained as the birds stayed around for around 10 minutes and, on occasions, the weather even behaved a bathed them in good light for a minute or two. The head markings and bill could be easily seen and all agreed it was the best views of Hawfinch that they had had. With spirits lifted we decided to call into the Conwy RSPB reserve for a celebratory cup of tea and a quick look at the hides. Teal, Pochard and Gadwall added to the tally of ducks but the best was to come from a 'common' bird - the Starling. A huge flock arrived over the reserve - wheeling across the sky in a fantastic display of aerial acrobatics. More and more birds joined the flock until they suddenly split apart as a Peregrine swooped in for the kill. The scare over the flock returned only to be startled again but this time by a Sparrowhawk. At last the danger was over and the Starlings plunged into the reedbed to roost overnight. OK, the flock may have been only a few hundred birds - small compared to the thousands found in roosting flocks down south - but it was 'our' flock and we all went home with a little bit of our wonderful wildlife.