1st August 2006
Four Chough flew SW over Lôn Las.
A Green Woodpecker called near the house.
I managed to get a couple of hours at Pwllheli
Harbour where the highlights were:
Grey Heron 2
Black-tailed Godwit 1
Ringed Plover 10
Lepidoptera included a Speckled Wood by the cob pool,
two Graylings and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth on the spit opposite the council
Back home a Green Woodpecker was very vocal and a
juvenile Little Owl was perched on the edge of the road.
A flock of 70 Curlew fed in the pasture above Porth
Llawenan – always a good spot for them. Yet another Clouded Yellow fed on
Fleabane on the cliffs here.
Back home a ‘charm’ of seven Goldfinch were seen.
A Green Woodpecker called frequently from the
clawdd below Rhiwlas, presumably enjoying the abundant ant colonies in
An afternoon stroll down Porth Meudwy was rather
quiet for birds, with the most notable sightings being a Yellowhammer
feeding young near the bottom of the valley and two each of Blackcap and
Insects showed well, with loads of bees etc on the
Knapweed; butterfly records included two Painted Lady, Wall Brown, Large
White, Small White and Ringlet. A Four-spot Chaser dragonfly was seen.
A superb Clouded Yellow butterfly was by the coastal
path back to Aberdaron.
A Common Sandpiper and two Rock Pipits showed well in
A strong northerly wind had me hoping for some
interesting seabirds off Penarfynydd but the stream of Manx Shearwaters,
Sandwich Terns and Gannets were rather distant. Closer inshore a juvenile
Sandwich Tern screamed for food from an accompanying adult, four Shag were
feeding, a Raven ‘cronked’ overhead and a male Kestrel remained motionless
in the wind.
A Curlew fed by Porth Ysgo and a Common Sandpiper
called nearby, possible disturbed by the four canoeists camping on the
beach at Porth Llawenan.
Mike Crick reported a Hummingbird Hawkmoth on
geraniums in his garden, with another seen by Carreg Lefain at the end of
June. It has been a remarkable year for this normally scarce migrant
I met John Jones of Ty Croes Mawr, and had a long
chat regarding the birds he remembered as a youth in the village… long
gone species such as Grey Partridges and Corncrakes. Both of these ground
nesting species were adversely affected by the change from hay making to
silage production (with the earlier cutting regimes) and the general
intensification of farming, while the migrant Corncrake has also been
suffering from the effects of drought in its wintering habitat in
Grey Partridge is now very scarce in Gwynedd with the
odd record, and a similar situation occurs on Anglesey/Ynys Môn.
Apparently the species has been released for shooting in recent years at
Aberdaron but the population have not increased in numbers as the abundant
local Red-legged Partridge have.
I remember speaking to an old villager years ago
(before I moved here) who used to curse the sound of the Rhiw Corncrakes
as they kept him awake at night! This species became very scarce in the
country from the 1970’s with sporadic breeding attempts thereafter and
became extinct in Wales in 1992 when the last recorded pair bred on
Anglesey in 1994.
On the positive side the odd calling bird has been
recorded from Ynys Enlli in recent years and habitat management in places
such as the Outer Hebrides has stabilised and even reversed the declining
population. Let’s hope that in time we may again hear the bird in the
For the definitive story on these and other Welsh
birds see the superb but now sadly out of date avifauna:
Lovegrove, R., Williams, G. & Williams, I.T. 1994.
Birds in Wales. T. & A.D. Poyser
and the recent update:
Green, J. 2002. Birds in Wales 1992-2000.
Welsh Ornithological Society/Cymdeithas Adaryddol Cymru.
On the positive side John’s game cover crops have
been supporting good numbers of species of conservation concern such as
Linnet and Yellowhammer (as well as the Pheasants and Red-legged
Partridge), and following support from RSPB he has extended the areas and
sown seed mixtures to attract the aforementioned species this year. This
is a great example of shooting and conservation working side by side and I
am looking forward to checking the plots for interesting species over the
I enjoyed an evening walk down to Porth Ysgo. Seven
Hares fed in various fields, a noisy young Buzzard called by Penarfynydd,
the odd Stonechat, Yellowhammer and Chough were seen and a superb Barn Owl
was flushed in Nant y Gadwen.
Birds off Trwyn Talfarach included six Sandwich
Terns, 12 Gannet with four Chough and a Rock Pipit nearby.
I made my way down to Trwyn Talfarach for some
fishing, recording a Whinchat, two Wheatears and seven Stonechat on the
heath. A Grey Heron flew SW along the coast with two Sandwich Terns
offshore. Eight Chough drifted over the mountain with two each of Buzzard
and Raven, while three Little Owls and two Barn Owls called on the way
Also seen were a Slow Worm, three Hares and a Badger.
A flock of 18 Goldfinch were over Lôn Las.
A Goldcrest in the back garden was the first for a
Tony & Gwenllian saw a Clouded Yellow at Pen y Cil,
A Kestrel spooked thirty Linnets in one of the game
cover plots by Ty Croes Mawr, the first decent flock of the autumn.
A party of three Choughs fed on the sheep pasture
below Penarfynydd farm and I had good views of one bird sporting a set of
colour rings. These are placed on the chicks in the nests by a team of
dedicated researchers who have been monitoring the small Welsh population
of this rare member of the crow family for many years and have ringed
hundreds of these fabulous birds.
Colour ringing enables birders to identify
individuals by their unique combinations so that they can be tracked in
the field and individual life histories recorded; for example feeding or
roosting areas can be identified, the productivity of breeding birds can
be assessed and the longevity of individuals established, thus
facilitating informed conservation measures such as habitat management in
Sightings from casual observers are much appreciated,
so anyone seeing a colour-ringed bird is asked to telephone the details
(i.e. colour and position of pair of rings on each leg, grid reference,
number etc) to Adrienne Stratford, the co-ordinator of the project on
Feedback is very prompt and I learnt that the bird I
had seen was from a brood ringed this year on Ynys Enlli. This is the
first re-sighting of any of the nine young ringed on the island this year.