Rhiw Natural History




Andrew Clarke


April 2007

Sunday 1st April

Sunny with blue skies again but the persistent cold NE of the last few weeks is still blowing. This morning I trod up over Mynydd Rhiw taking in the fine views over to Anglesey and Snowdonia.

On the way up to the radar station a recently cleared area of gorse held five Stonechat/Clochdar y Cerrig, two Magpie/Pioden (scarce in the village as a result of a neighbouring farmers longstanding trapping programme) and a couple of Kestrel/Cudyll Coch.

It was great to hear the mountain echoing with the sound of singing Skylarks/Ehedydd. At least 11 birds were counted on the way up to the top mast by the site of the ancient axe factory.

Nearby my first Wheatear/Tinwen y Garn of the year dashed along the stone wall four were counted in total. Two Chough/Brn Goescoch flew north and a Linnet/Llinos was heard.



Tuesday 3rd April

Today saw me visiting a local section of coast known as a good site for Peregrine/Hebog.

I was not to be disappointed because as I arrived I flushed a superb male from a crag above the sea cliffs. The bird flew down at high speed straight down at a Raven/Cigfran sat atop the cliff then flew up, banked then immediately flew back down at another target a Buzzard which I had not noticed sat further along the cliff edge.

Presumably the falcon was staking out or defending a breeding territory I have seen them use old Raven nests in years past while Buzzards also occasionally do the same so there was obviously some competition for the best site going on.


Friday 6th April

This afternoon an old birding friend was visiting for the weekend so we walked up over Mynydd Rhiw looking for migrants. With clear blue skies, a warm sun and a cool breeze conditions were perfect.

Four Stonechat/Clochdar y Cerrig were seen on the heath then a House Martin/Gwennol y Bondo headed north the first of the year for me. A Hare/Sgwarnog was disturbed from the rough grassland by the top radar station then we had fine views of a bright green Common Lizard/Madfall y Coed, which Rick saw seconds before I was about to flatten it underfoot!

We took the footpath down across the heath to Ffynnon Saint, with the usual Yellowhammer/Bras y Melyn singing away and several Peacock/Y Peunog and Small Tortoiseshell/Ir Fach Amryliw butterflies on the wing.

Reaching the well we paused for a drink then continued down the track past Tyn y Parc, recording two singing Siskin/Pila Gwerdd in the conifers and eight Chiffchaff/Siff-saff in the willow scrub, while a pair of charming Long-tailed Tits/Titw Cynffon-hir called from some Blackthorn/Draenen ddu.

At Porth Neigwl it was time for some refreshments and a scan of the bay, picking up a distant Red-throated Diver/Trochydd Gyddfgoch way offshore. Heading back up past Plas-yn-Rhiw the obligatory Green Woodpecker/Cnocell Werdd called with two Great Spotted Woodpeckers/Cnocell Fraith Fwyaf in the churchyard at St.Aelrhiws.


Saturday 7th April

Today saw Eifion - another old friend, Rick and I taking the boat across to Bardsey Island/Ynys Enlli. The weather was again perfect for walking and wildlife watching.

The first Thrift/Clustog Fair of the year was flowering in Porth Meudwy as we waited for the boat and after a comfortable 20 minute journey we reached Cafn, the small inlet that serves as a harbour. We were greeted by the wailing cries of the colony of Atlantic Grey Seals/Morlo Llwyd, hauled out on the rocks in Henllwyn. Enlli supports a significant proportion of the North Wales population and the visitor is guaranteed excellent views.

We wandered over the island, recording my first Swallow/Gwennol of the year amongst a range of other birds and wildlife. Sitting on top of Mynydd Enlli looking back towards the mainland then down at the seabirds whizzing around the cliffs is an excellent way to while away ones time and is highly recommended.


Sunday 8th April

Tony Jones reports two cetaceans (Dolphin/Dolffin or Porpoise/Llamhidydd) off Rhuol, Porth Neigwl early this morning.


Wednesday 11th April

Two more House Martins/Gwennol y Bondo were over the house.

A Little Owl/Tylluan Fach was calling above Ty Eifion this evening. The local birds have been fairly quiet in recent weeks, presumably they are busy nesting.


Friday 13th April

A group of four Lesser Redpoll/Llinos Bengoch flew over the house this morning.



Saturday 14th April

Today dawned warm with the sun breaking through some high cloud. The first Swallow/Gwennol of the year was a welcome visitor to Ln Las.

I ventured uphill past Ty Eifion, where three Mistle Thrush/Brych y Coed were engaged in a noisy territorial dispute, out along the top lane towards Carreg Lefain and the sewage works, counting five Yellowhammer/Bras Melyn (including four singing males) and three singing Willow Warbler/Telor yr Helyg.

Two House Martin/Gwennol y Bondo, a Swallow/Gwennol and a Wheatear/Tinwen y Garn were around Mynydd Penarfynydd with two more Mistle Thrush/ Brych y Coed by the trip point and my first Wall Brown/Ir Fach y Fagwyr butterfly of the year at the very end of the mountain overlooking Trwyn Talfarach.

Visiting naturalist Andrew Spottiswood (read his blog here) reports the following sightings from the north coast of Lleyn.

Aber Geirch to Porth Towyn

5 Purple Sandpiper/Pibydd Du at Aber Geirch

10 Golden Plover/Cwtiad Aur

5+ Sandwich Tern/Morwennol Bigddu

1 Manx Shearwater/Aderyn Drycin Manaw

1 Gannet/Hugan

5 Wheatear/Tinwen y Garn

2+ White Wagtail/Siglen Wen  



Monday 16th April

Two Shelduck/Hwyaden yr Eithin flew east over the house a nice garden tick!



Tuesday 17th April

This evening I walked down towards Porth Ysgo, enjoying superb views of two tame Hares/Sgwarnog in a silage field near Bryndol on the way.

The beach was fairly quiet bird wise, with two male Pied Wagtails/Siglen Fraith and a singing Grey Wagtail/Siglen Lwyd. Three Yellowhammer/Bras Melyn sang from the coastal gorse, with another three in Nant y Gadwen and a male Kestrel/Cudyll Coch on the return trip.



Thursday 26th April

Today the sun was warm, the sky was blue and the breeze was cool perfect for a stroll to Graig Fawr.

First sighting of note was my first Orange Tip/Boneddiges y Wig butterfly of the year a fine male.

A Garden Warbler/Telor yr Ardd sang from a hawthorn thicket near Bryn Hyfryd another returning migrant.

At least two different pairs of Raven/Cigfran wheeled over Mynydd Penarfynydd, presumably non-breeding birds, while a Wheatear/Tinwen y Garn was on Graig Fawr.


Friday 27th April

Gwenllian saw another male Orange Tip/Boneddiges y Wig at the mouth of the river in Aberdaron this morning.


Saturday 28th April

After a sleepless night I was up at dawn and stumbled up onto Mynydd y Graig. The red globe of the sun rose straight over the Moelwyn mountains at Blaenau Ffestiniog superb.

Birding highlights during the walk towards Penarfynydd included three Wheatear/Tinwen y Garn, a Sparrowhawk/Gwalch Glas, Kestrel/Cudyll Coch and two Chough/Brn Goesgoch. Another Garden Warbler/Telor yr Ardd, three Chiffchaff/Siff-saff and five Willow Warbler/Telor yr Helyg sang from the plantation here.

A Lesser Redpoll/Llinos Bengoch flew over Ln Las later in the morning.

Visiting naturalist Andrew Spottiswood (read his blog here) reports the following sightings between Aber Geirch and Porth Towyn:

89 Whimbrel/Coegylfinir (an excellent local count) in one field at SH259399 accompanied by

2 Bar-tailed Godwit/Rhostog Gynffonfrith one of which was a male in summer-plumage.

3 Kittiwake/Gwylan Goesddu on rocks at Aber Geirch

10 White Wagtail/Siglen Wen at Aber Geirch

8 Wheatear/Tinwen y Garn

3 Sedge Warbler/Telor yr Hesg

1 Wall Brown//Ir Fach y Fagwyr


Many thanks to Andrew for this section of Rhiw.com


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