Rhiw Natural History




Andrew Clarke


July 2007

Sunday 1st July

The rain fell heavily last night but eventually cleared. The day dawned grey but brightened later, apart from the odd shower.

July usually sees the start of a strange pursuit known in birding circles as ‘seawatching’. The idea is that one finds a vantage point off some prominent headland, gets comfortable (a Karrimat comes in useful!) and sets a telescope up to wait for some exciting seabird passage. Usually it just means that you watch the sea and it’s incredibly boring, sometimes to the point of sleep… but then a skua, petrel or other good bird whizzes by, your concentration kicks in and you have a few seconds to identify it! Like a cross between soporific yoga and a shot of neat adrenaline. It can be very exciting when the conditions are right - usually the day after a huge storm when displaced seabirds flap their way back to their pelagic haunts.

Anyway this afternoon I ambled down to Trwyn Talfarach to have a go. Believe me, it was one of those rather uneventful sessions. No rare birds and highlights in one hour were 170 Manx Shearwaters (some quite close in – great views), 32 Gannets, and a handful of auks (Guillemots and Puffin). Still it is quite therapeutic, rather like fishing - a great excuse to sit by the sea for a while!

Also seen here were a single Grayling butterfly and eight Chough.

A flock of c.30 Linnet were eating seeds in one of John Jones’s game cover patches near Ty Croes Mawr. Arriving home a Grey Wagtail headed overhead.


Monday 2nd July

A male Sparrowhawk with prey headed east over the house this afternoon. Presumably there are still some youngsters in a nest nearby.


Friday 6th July

Tonight I headed down towards Ysgo, enjoying great views of a Peregrine on the way. A family party of Magpies were making one hell of a racket near Llanfaelrhys Church. Presumably they were mobbing some (unseen) predator. Frustratingly, I heard brief snatches of what sounded to me like a distant singing Quail (a scarce summer visitor to Lleyn) from a nearby field over the cacophony of noise, but I could not confirm it. Such is birding sometimes!

Reaching Porth Ysgo a distant splash became a party of at least three Bottle-nose Dolphins, steadily heading west. It’s always great to see these fine animals.


Sunday 8th July

A flock of eight Curlew were over Porth Llawenan –the first returning birds of the autumn.


Monday 9th July

A single Grey Heron headed over the village.


Tuesday 10th July

The pasture below Penarfynydd farm held 17 Curlew, while the game cover crop by Ty Croes Mawr hosted a good flock of 85 Linnet.

A single Lesser Redpoll flew over Lôn Las.


Saturday 14th July

Today I enjoyed a circular walk down past Pas-yn-Rhiw along past Ty’n-y-parc, then back over Mynydd Rhiw. Highlights were two Green Woodpeckers by the Plas and a large Adder by the Radio Relay Station on the mountain.


Sunday 15th July

Three Bottlenose Dolphins headed east off Porth Ysgo this afternoon where the first returning Black-headed Gull of the autumn was noted and one of the resident Grey Wagtails.

Andrew Spottiswood has again contributed the following records from the north coast of the peninsula:

Aber Geirch to Porth Towyn

5 Arctic Skuas late afternoon including a team of 4 on the sea at SH242397 whence they frequently ambushed Kittiwakes and Sandwich Terns

73 Kittiwakes on rocks at Aber Geirch and many more passing along with large numbers of Manx Shearwaters and small flocks of Common Scoters

10+ Common Sandpipers 6+ around the in nominate cove at SH259399, 3 at the Natural Arch and one at Aber Geirch.

11 Turnstones Aber Geirch

1 Whimbrel Aber Geirch

36 Curlews

5 Redshanks Aber Geirch

1 Dunlin flew north-east

2 Red-breasted Mergansers 2 redheads off Penrhyn Cwmistir

2 Kingfishers one at Aber Geirch fishing the bay from the pipeline and one at the Waterfalls

1 Grasshopper Warbler showed very well as it posed inquisitively in a small willow on the boggy plateau on the south side of Aber Geirch

5 Wheatears 4 juvs

1 Treecreeper on rocks at Aber Geirch (- bizarre record for a woodland bird!)

1 Keeled Skimmer [m] on the boggy plateau above Aber Geirch

Beautiful Demoiselles and Banded Demoiselles both abundant along the river at Aber Geirch especially in the narrow gorge

Ringlets were the commonest butterflies, occurring all along my coast walk but most abundantly at Aber Geirch.

According to Butterflies of Gwynedd [1996]: There are colonies on un-wooded cliffs in Gwynedd, not a typical habitat. It occurs in small and fairly isolated colonies throughout Gwynedd. . . At Nefyn, in the Lleyn peninsula, at least one colony lives on the wind-swept and virtually tree-less cliff slopes; this is not a typical habitat for Ringlets.

4 Small Skippers on the boggy plateau above Aber Geirch. Again quoting Butterflies of Gwynedd: Present in a few small and widely separated colonies in Gwynedd. . . There are very few records of this species in Caernarfonshire.

2 Foxes Aber Geirch


Monday 16th July

After another murky start to the day the clouds rolled back and later the weather was superb with blue skies and a moderate SW wind. A noisy family party of six Choughs commuted between Mynydd-y-Graig and Clip y Gylfinhir all afternoon.


Tuesday 17th July

Two Swifts were over the house – these are quite a scarce species on this end of the Lleyn, the nearest breeding birds as far as I’m aware are over in Nefyn.


Tuesday 19th July

The Penarfynydd Curlew flock has built up to 39 birds.


Saturday 21st July

Porth Ysgo again hosted two Bottle-nose Dolphins, an adult and immature and a flock of 63 Curlew fed on the adjacent pasture as I made my way down to the sea.

Although this evening’s fishing trip was unsuccessful it was a truly beautiful evening being mild, with a light wind and a calm sea. A Common Sandpiper called as it flew past close by as dusk fell and two iridescent Glow Worms were seen on the way up towards Ysgo farm where a young Little Owl called from the old potato store. Finally a Barn Owl was by the church at Llanfaelrhys.


Sunday 22nd July

Andrew Spottiswood reports the following from the Edern area.

Aber Geirch to Porth Towyn

160+ Kittiwakes on rocks at Aber Geirch

115 Curlews Penrhyn Cwmistir

1 Whimbrel Penrhyn Cwmistir

12 Turnstones Aber Geirch

10+ Common Sandpipers

1 Kingfisher Aber Geirch

1 Great Spotted Woodpecker Aber Geirch

1 Wheatear juv

1 Golden-ringed Dragonfly [f] at the top of the cleft on the south side of the cove at SH259399 where it caught and ate a large bumblebee. Beautiful Demoiselles [Afon Geirch], Banded Demoiselles [Afon Geirch] and Ringlets


Monday 23rd July

Two Swifts were over Pen-y-Caerau.


Friday 27th July

A rather confused looking Great Spotted Woodpecker woke me up this morning, calling from the adjacent telegraph pole before heading off east.


Sunday 29th July

This morning I found a cracking Comma butterfly feeding on some bramble flowers by the back door. I must get a decent camera to capture some of these memories, as they are amazing creatures with strange ragged wings. Other butterflies recorded today included Gatekeeper and Wall Brown.

Both Siskin and Lesser Redpoll flew over Lôn Las this morning.

Another dusk fishing trip to Porth Ysgo…. and another Common Sandpiper heard!



Tuesday 31st July

A Whimbrel was a nice surprise addition to the ‘garden list’ this morning as it flew over heading east.


Many thanks to Andrew for this section of Rhiw.com


Map or Safle                Website Map

Copyright © Rhiw.com