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....

Friday, 12 February 2016

Birding in North Wales - Snow Buntings, Hawfinches, Purple Sandpipers and Black Redstarts!

There have been some fantastic birds present in North Wales recently, with a whole host of great subjects for photography all along the coast.

After Alex first found a Snow Bunting at Horton’s nose near Kimnel Bay back at the start of December, a pair of these attractive buntings were found a little further down the shore at the start of January – presumably the same bird Alex found relocating up the beach. With up to 6 birds having been reported (along with records at Pensarn, Llandullas and Point of Ayr) the two seem to have now taken a liking to this small stretch of coast and what is now a regularly seeded area at SH 986 808, offering amazing views and a great opportunity to study these charismatic little birds up close.
Snow Bunting - Kimnel Bay, North Wales
Luckily I had my camera with me when I called in to Kimnel Bay, and the single Snow Bunting that was present when I visited allowed fantastic views as it fed unperturbed on the seed.
Snow Bunting - Kimnel Bay, North Wales
Being the first bird I travelled some distance to see at Kimnel Bay 5 years ago, it is great to see them returning to the North Wales coastline after a considerable absence for some years, and hopefully the numbers will be able to get back up to the 14 or so birds that were present back in 2011.

The Hawfinches at Llanbedr-y-Cennin are also providing excellent views this winter after proving to be very elusive back in January and February 2015. With over 20 birds reported to be present, we had a flock of 10 fly from the trees lining the field at SH 76007 69740, before flying back in to land, offering excellent scope views as seen from the cattle grid. 
Hawfinch - Llanbedr-y-Cennin, North Wales
With a huge bulky appearance in flight and prominent white patches on the wings, we soon became familiar with their silhouette, making it much easier to spot individuals as they flew from tree to tree. The trees around the churchyard and the field at the above grid reference seem to be the best places to spot these huge billed finches.

The Purple Sandpipers at Rhos Point continue to be found in low numbers at both high and low tide on the rocky shoreline while the Black Redstarts on the Little Orme are also producing great views this winter, with up to three individuals having been present. There is an excellent supporting cast of Red-throated Divers, Shags and nesting Fulmars on the cliffs and on the sea, while the seal colony at Angel Bay below holds double figures of Grey Seals, often hauled out on the shingle or with heads poking above the waves. This is a great opportunity to study these pinnipeds through the scope from the cliff top path, and we got great views of several large males and females resting on the sand.
Fulmars - Little Orme, North Wales
Grey Seals - Angel Bay, Little Orme
Grey Seals - Angel Bay, Little Orme

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