This morning there was
a distinct change in the weather with a cold wind blowing from the
north-east. I wandered out and one of the first birds I saw was a
Grey Heron/Creyr Glas heading high overhead towards the tip of the
peninsula. As the feeding areas freeze over on inland waters these
are one of the first species to head for milder coastal areas
where’s there’s always a few things to eat in the rock pools.
I walked up through the
village then dropped down past Pen-y-Poncyn along the muddy path
down to Syntir. There was a fair covering of snow on the mountains
from the distant peaks of the Moelwyns all the way round to Yr Eifl.
Very few birds were seen on the heath around past Pen yr Ogof to
Graig Fawr, just a few Meadow Pipits/Corhedydd y Waun, a pair of
Raven/Cigfran and a Robin/Robin Coch! On reaching Graig Fawr a fine
immature Stonechat/Clochdar y Cerrig was sheltering out of the wind.
On reaching the house a party of five Siskin/Pila Gwyrdd flew east.
I spent most of the
afternoon clearing some old straggly Gorse/Eithin along the fence
line in one of the top fields. I found a patch of Primroses/Briallu
that were almost finished flowering while the first Bluebell/Bwtsias
y Gôg bulbs were pushing through the thick carpet of old spiky
leaves. The day cleared up nicely with blue skies and the sun
sparkling off the water. The cold wind was bearable once I got into
the work. While sawing away at a particularly thick stem I heard a
noise behind and glanced back to see a pristine Barn Owl/Tylluan Wen
drop into the rough grass just five metres away. Incredibly, the
bird just sat there, concentrating on whatever juicy morsel it had
lined up for tea, and then turned, noticed me and flew off. It's not
often that one gets the opportunity to see such a beautiful bird in
The usual walk around Mynydd y Graig was
quiet, highlights being four Yellowhammer/Bras Melyn flying over at
dusk and a party of four Shag/Mulfran Werdd fishing in Porth Neigwl.
The big news this morning is of a strange
green light seen zooming over the peninsula (and other parts of
Wales) around dawn. It seems to have been a meteorite - read further
here (be warned this is a very strange website found by googling
for the story – I am not a regular visitor to such sites!).
It would be interesting to know what
effect these natural phenomena have on wildlife. I’ll always
remember sitting on a hill above Llangollen a few years ago waiting
for an eclipse of the sun to take place and seeing a superb Osprey/Gwalch
y Pysgod descend out of the blue sky as it darkened, obviously
destination before dusk was Mynydd y Graig or rather the footpath
around this stunning place. The immature Stonechat/Clochdar y Cerrig
was still present on the eastern slopes with at least eight Wren/Dryw
counted - possibly an influx due to the cold weather.
This afternoon I
headed up and over Mynydd Rhiw, catching a glorious sunset and
excellent views all the way across to Ireland and down to
A huge flock of
Starling/Drudwen swirled distantly over Abersoch, as immortalised in
the recent Carling lager Starling television advert!
seemed to have small smoky fires burning in almost ever direction –
people were obviously busy clearing patches of gorse or tidying
their gardens now that the rain has eased for a few days (just
remember to compost what you can and leave a few piles of sticks for
the hibernating Hedgehog/Draenog and other wildlife!).
The common was
virtually devoid of birdlife, although as I reached the Ordnance
Survey trig point at dusk, a Woodcock/Cyffylog up from my feet.
Darkness fell quickly and the distant lighthouses of South
Stack and The Skerries off Ynys Môn were clearly visible, reminding
me of the night I spent anchored at the latter site a few summers
ago surrounded by the screaming cries of the tern/Morwennol colony.
The biting north-easterly reminded me that
summer is a way off yet as I made my way down the footpath
towards the Botwnnog road and back
home. Another Woodcock/Cyffylog
flew over in the gloom while a Tawny Owl/Tylluan Frech hooted from
the fine woods by Plas yn Rhiw.
Mike Crick reports a party of 10
Yellowhammer/ Bras Melyn in his
garden at Bryn Hyfryd.
A Stoat/Gwenci crept along the cloddiau by
the back garden today with a Green Woodpecker/Cnocell Werdd calling
in the distance. The field by the house still holds a flock of 20
Meadow Pipit/Corhedydd y Waun and the usual Kestrel/Cudyll Coch.
Monday 29th January
surveyed a section of the coast between Porth Cadlan and Penrhyn
Mawr today, a continuation of the
N.E.W.S. survey. Although few of the target species were seen
there were plenty of other interesting sightings.
Starting off from home the walk down to the coast was cool with a
blanket of high grey cloud and a cold northerly wind. A small flock
of Black-headed Gulls/Gwylan Benddu in the pasture below Salfur held
a find moulting adult Mediterranean Gull/Gwylan Môr y Canoldir - a
good start. Despite the temperature, several birds were singing with
Song Thrush/Bron Fraith, Blackbird/Mwyalchen, Great Tit/Titw Mawr
and Robin/Robin Coch all staking their territories.
flock of 35 Curlew/Gylfinhir lifted off the fields near Porth Ysgo
and headed east.
Eventually I reached the footpath above Maen Gwenonwy and decided to
follow the old overgrown path down to check the causeway to the
island. As I did so the clouds rolled back and the sun came out.
Dropping out of the wind it was positively warm and the Coconut-like
scent of Gorse/Eithin was on the wind – fantastic! A single
Oystercatcher/Pioden y Môr screamed from the rocks with a Razorbill/Llurs
offshore. Several lobstermen were out checking their pots and the
gulls were checking them.
This was the first time on the shore here for me – great round
boulders lie everywhere at the foot of some huge slabs of twisted
volcanic rocks. I noticed an iron ring and a winch and wondered who
had kept their boats here in the past. I may have to check out the
fishing marks later on in the year.
Continuing uphill a fine Hare/Sgwarnog scurried off through the
gorse while a pair of Raven/Cigfran circled overhead. Later, one
bird was seen trying to balance a stick in its bill then flew off
towards an old nest site. The first of several Rock Pipits/Corhedydd
y Graig were seen as well as a couple of Stonechat/Clochdar y Cerrig.
There was much sign of Badger/Mochyn Daear activity along the cliff
top, with areas of broken turf (where they search for worms and
other invertebrates) and great clumps of hair caught at the bottom
of the fences. Several Chough/Bran Goesgoch were seen, riding the
breeze, then a superb Peregrine/Hebog.
Reaching the headland opposite Ynysoedd Gwylan I found a sheltered
spot for some lunch and a Small Tortoiseshell/Iâr Fach Amryliw
butterfly whizzed past! I’ve seen the odd one very early in the
Spring but did not expect one today.
Heading back up the road via Penrhyn Mawr several plants were in
flower with my first Dandelion/Dant y Llew and Lesser Celandine/Llygad
Ebrill of the year alongside Tormentil/Tresgl y Moch and Pink
Campion/Blodyn Neidr, which seem to flower year round in this area.
Five distant lumps in a field by Ty’n Lon Fawr proved through
binoculars to be a party of Hares/Sgwarnog. It was odd to see them
sat out just loafing and browsing.
This afternoon I continued the shorebird
survey, aiming to walk the section of coast in Rhiw between Trwyn
Talfarach and heading around towards the west side of Porth Neigwl.
This is a particularly dangerous bit of the
coast in places with areas of loose scree and steep cliffs; not
being a fan of heights I worked my way along very carefully.
Starting off by Porth Llawenan there was a
flock of 44 Curlew/Gylfinhir on the adjacent pasture. Offshore I
counted 100 Black-headed Gulls/Gwylan Benddu and two Common Gulls/Gwylan
Walking the survey area, the most
interesting sightings were three Turnstone/Cwtiad y Traeth (a true
rocky shore bird if ever there was one), a single Oystercatcher/Pioden
y Môr and two Razorbill/Llurs fishing offshore.
The cliffs at Bytilith hosted 24 Fulmar/Aderyn-Drycin
y Graig on their breeding ledges with one pair on an old Raven nest.
A couple of Chough/Brân Goesgoch called overhead while offshore a
Grey Seal/Morlo Llwyd bobbed about.
Again, there were many signs of Badger/Mochyn
Daear activity with a number of latrine pits, excavated turf and
broken Bluebell/Bwtsias y Gôg bulbs (a favourite food item). Seeing
these bulbs reminded me that in days long gone the whole of this
heath once supported extensive deciduous woodland, these flowers
being a remnant species from that time or so called ancient woodland
Yellowhammer/Bras Melyn, Song Thrush/Bronfraith
and two Rock Pipits/Corhedydd y Graig were noted in this area, and
as the light faded I flushed another Woodcock/Cyffylog on the way