A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Autumnal Birding - Short-eared Owls, Scaup, Jack Snipe and Cetti's

With the rustic tones of autumn coming to a close and the cool chill of winter fast approaching, I’ve been able to catch up with a selection of good birds locally as the seasons shift and the birds follow suite.

Short-eared Owls in particular seem to be in great abundance this year, and I managed to see up to 6 different birds at Parkgate/Burton Point during the recent high tides, all taking advantage of the large numbers of voles and other small mammals forced out of the vegetation as the water levels rose. With further individuals at Frodsham Marsh as well as this beautiful bird found hunting along the banks of the River Clywd in Rhyl, the winter of 2015/16 already seems to be a bumper year for these charismatic owls.
Short-eared Owl - River Clwyd
There also appears to have been a mini-invasion of Firecrests taking place throughout the North Wales coastline over the past few weeks, with up to 5 spotted at Conwy RSPB near the pond bridge and further individuals scattered across the coastline and up to the Great Orme, particularly around Llys Helig Drive.

The female/immature Scaup at Eirias Park boating lake also provided excellent views when I visited, and having been associating with a group of Mallards for several weeks now, is still present. Whilst occasionally flushed by dogs (such as on one occasion while I was present) the Scaup seems to have taken this small patch of water to its liking, showing fantastically well and being easy to spot on such a small water body. With the lake slowly being drained for the winter however, it will more than likely soon move on, perhaps to the coast or to one of the other pools or lakes nearby.
Scaup - Colwyn Bay, Wales
Burton Mere Wetlands is also playing host to two Jack Snipe at present, most often seen from the first boardwalk screen hidden amongst the stubble of cut reeds. Cryptically camouflaged and usually asleep amongst the Common Snipe with its beak concealed, the distinctive facial markings give the ID away along with the darker and bolder patterns on the back. Luckily, we managed to get great views of one individual doing its characteristic bobbing motion as it moved through the reeds before settling back down and remaining hidden behind the vegetation.
Jack Snipe - Burton Mere Wetlands
Two Cetti’s Warblers have also taken up residence in the patch of reeds between the reedbed screen and the second hide. Usually remaining hidden deep within the depths of the reeds, with just the distinctive explosive call giving their location away, we were lucky to get amazing views as they became incredibly active late in the afternoon before heading off to roost, showing unbelievably well and performing right in front of the screen out in the open. These were by far my longest ever views of Cetti’s Warblers, having previously only ever got glimpses at various reserves before the bird dashed back in to the safety of the reeds. A pair of Brambling on the feeders were also lovely to see, completing what has been a fantastic few weeks for classic autumnal/winter birds.

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