Please note that from this month onwards I will be
translating this column into Welsh – it will shortly be available on
Wednesday 2nd May
A walk around Pwllheli Harbour and Lôn Cob Bach
this afternoon, and I noted two Whimbrel, two Sedge Warbler and one Reed
Conwy birder Geoff Gibbs is the local co-ordinator for the
British Trust for Ornithology,
who by developing links between their paid staff and keen volunteers
undertake masses of work monitoring our birdlife and developing
conservation programmes for threatened species.
Today he conducted a survey of Porth Neigwl searching for breeding Ringed
Plovers as part of the Trust’s
‘Little Ringed & Ringed Plover
Breeding Survey 2007’. Unfortunately he only found one plover,
but a nice flock of waders in a field at the Pen Cilan end included: 37
Whimbrel and 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, nearly all in stunning breeding
Geoff is always seeking help with local surveys such as this and can be
email or telephone on 01248 681936 if you are interested in keeping a
few notes of what you see when out birdwatching that can be used for
Friday 3rd May
The beautiful warm weather
continued and a brief walk around Mynydd y Graig was needed. Viewing
conditions were perfect with a light easterly wind, calm
seas, blue skies and perfect visibility.
Scanning the sea was rewarded
with a pod of five Bottle-nose Dolphins off Porth Neigwl. First seen
fairly close inshore off the west end of the bay they eventually drifted
off east towards Cilan Head.
They appeared to be feeding,
swimming as a close group surfacing regularly - although there were no
acrobatics this time, as I've seen previously in this area.
I understand from local birders, fishermen, wildlife cruise operators etc
that there is a small resident population of this species around the Lleyn
Peninsula... not just the famous dolphins further south in
Cardigan Bay. No doubt there is some interaction between the groups.
Further along the way a fine Hooded Crow (the
Irish equivalent of our Carrion Crow and quite a scarce bird in Gwynedd)
was perched near Graig Fawr.
Monday 7th May
Eddie Urbanski found a Spoonbill in Pwllheli
Harbour today – a great local record; the bird was seen the following day
Thursday 10th May
A Lesser Whitethroat was singing from the
hedgerows north of Felin Uchaf, Rhoshirwaun this afternoon.
An Otter has been reported this week showing well
in the day by an angler in Pwllheli Harbour.
Sunday 13th May
The first two Swifts of the year drifted over
Mynydd y Graig this morning.
My walk took me down to the sea cliffs at
Bytilith, where a single Harbour Porpoise was feeding offshore with a
group of Gannets and gulls in attendance.
I was intrigued to find a freshly dead Manx
Shearwater on the cliff top here. Nearby there were many ‘Rabbit’ burrows;
‘Manxies’ are ground nesters that utilise these holes (or dig their own)
to raise their families.
There have been occasional reports of this species
breeding on the mainland cliffs of Anglesey and Gwynedd, although there
have been no confirmed records for several decades. Further investigation
Walking east the first broods of Stonechat were
demanding food from their parents in the gorse and bracken.
I was pleased to find an old Otter spraint
(dropping) at the secluded
pool south of Graig Ddu. Nearby a stunning Early Purple Orchid
was in full flower, always great to see and another true sign of spring.
Further along the coast a pair of Ravens called
excitedly near the woods at Garth, presumably they have a nest nearby.
Andrew Spottiswood reports the following
sightings from the north coast of Lleyn.
Aber Geirch to Porth Towyn:
13 Sedge Warblers
1 Grasshopper Warbler at Aber Geirch
1 Dunlin around the waterfalls
1 Manx Shearwater
Wednesday 16th May
Today the weather was truly grotty with strong
winds and low cloud enveloping the village. I was delighted to find a
cracking male Redstart sheltering on my back doorstep this afternoon – a
bizarre place for this grounded migrant to shelter!
Thursday 17th May
Awoke this morning feeling ill – mega tired,
blocked sinuses etc. It was time for a spot of sea air so the walk to
Porth Ysgo was required.
The lanes on the way down rang with the song of
Sedge Warbler and Common Whitethroat and the air was thick with the scent
of Hawthorn, Cow Parsley, Red Campion and Bluebells.
Large White and a couple of Orange Tips flitted
about in Nant y Gadwen which hosted a wide selection of typical heath land
birds, including a particularly bedraggled Kestrel in heavy wing moult.
Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies were sheltering by the beach where a
party of territorial Oystercatchers made the usual noise and a Grey Seal
Four Rock Pipits were camouflaged on the boulders
at Porth Llawenan and a pair of Chough fed in an adjacent field.
Arriving home I felt human again – Mother Nature
had made me feel better again!
Saturday 19th May
A pair of Swallows are re-building the old nest in
Sunday 20th May
A Nightingale was found today over on
Tuesday 22nd May
An evening walk produced no less than 15 Hares
scattered in the fields to the south and west of the village.
Five Spotted Flycatchers were reported today in
Porth Meudwy, Aberdaron.
Thursday 24th May
A male Subalpine Warbler was trapped, ringed and
released on Bardsey today.
Saturday 26th May
An afternoon’s fishing was in order following
reports of good numbers of Mackerel around Pen Llŷn. On the way down to
Trwyn Talfarach I found my first Spotted Flycatcher of the autumn on the
edge of the plantation.
My efforts were rewarded by ten Mackerel (kept)
and half a dozen small Pollack (returned) and I dropped a few off at
various neighbour’s houses on the way home.
Also, I saw two adult Bottle-nose Dolphins
briefly, both heading east.
Earlier in the day there was a report of a 'large pod of dolphins' heading
through the Bardsey Sound/Swnt Enlli, between Bardsey Island/Ynys Enlli
and the mainland.
I thought some of you might find the following
story and photographs on a local angling forum of interest - dolphins meet
kayaks (Cardigan Bay)…
Sunday 27th May
A fine leveret blocked the road near Salfur as I
returned with friends from Aberdaron this evening.
Monday 28th May
This morning I travelled down to Felin Uchaf for
their Open Day.
The place was a hive of activity with
demonstrations of woodland crafts, storytelling, puppet making, cob
building, organic gardening and a fine selection of refreshments! They
have achieved so much in such a short period of time and the centre is
developing each time I visit.
I just missed a Weasel which appeared with a small
mammal in mouth by the vegetable beds.
On the walk home a superb Lesser Whitethroat sang
near Meillionydd Mawr and I was the centre of attention for a Willow
Warbler which for several minutes kept flying straight at me, hovering
inches from my head and calling repeatedly. Most bizarre; in over 30 years
of serious birding I have never known such behaviour.
A Small Copper sheltered from the cold northerly
wind by Capel Pisgah.
Tuesday 29th May
A family party of six Raven drifted north over the
house this morning.
The Subalpine Warbler was
still singing away in the observatory garden on Bardsey. Lucky birders!
With the persistent wind - a real feature of this
month – dropping, I took an evening walk out onto Mynydd Penarfynydd. The
visibility was excellent with the mountains of Ireland clear cut against
the horizon, the peaks of Snowdonia and Cambrian mountains crisp all the
way down to the Pembrokeshire coast.
Hares were showing very well again, with ten
counted (including eight together in the field east of the Penarfynydd
A superb Barn Owl hunted the fields between Ty’n
Llidiart and Eifion, and the sky only really began to darken around ten
Nights like this certainly make up for those
months of hibernation in the short days of winter!
The weather was pretty bad
with a gale force south-westerly bringing in some heavy rain showers.
Birders over on Enlli logged both Pomarine’ and Arctic Skuas past the
Llandudno birder Marc
Hughes reports the following from a four day visit to the area:
“I found a party of 14
Common Crossbill over Uwchmynydd Headland this morning, while other
migrants in the area included Cuckoo, many Sedge Warbler, 2 Lesser
Whitethroats and an 'eastern type' race Jackdaw. Two Black Guillemots were
at the bottom of Porth Meudwy, while several hundred Manx Shearwater were
It was nice to see several
Red legged Partridge, Yellowhammers, Green Woodpecker and Little Owls in
the area, while over 40 Chough were in the vicinity.
In Pwllheli Harbour there were up to six Whimbrel
and a single Bar-tailed Godwit.”
I spent the morning birding around my usual patch
on the south side of the village. Highlights were nine Yellowhammers, six
Chough, and a party of seven Ravens (all mobbing a Common Buzzard
Butterflies included a couple of Small Heath and a
Later the wind dropped and I had an hours walk
along to Carreg Lefain with the sun dropping into the sea to the north
west – a beautiful evening.
Again, some stunning Bottle-nose Dolphins were
seen, with at least three feeding distantly along the tide race in Porth
While many people are inside watching the B.B.C.’s
Springwatch (admittedly great) programme the real stuff is happening on