Monday 6 April 2009

North Wales, 3 - 5th April

Been in Wales over the weekend on a family visit, celebrating my aunt's 60th birthday. We headed up late morning on Friday, aiming to arrive in Wales by mid-afternoon. First stop was the usual on the A616 Woodhead Pass where at least six Red Grouse were seen from the layby. The weather was particularly nice on the moors, affording very pleasant views.

View from the Woodhead Pass, 3rd April

Next detour was at Frodsham (Cheshire). At Bradley Orchard Farm, the Cattle Egret was performing somewhat distantly in a cattle field between the farm and the River Weaver. A particularly drab individual, with pale, washed-out bill and limited buff markings on the crown. There were also a few Buzzards blogging about. During the afternoon, we walked to dogs along the River Dee at Queensferry; the highlight here was a pleasant female Wheatear. A Swallow flew through and there were a couple of singing Chiffchaffs. Back at my uncle's in Hawarden, a Lesser Redpoll was singing in the evening.

After a heavy one the night before, it was something of a surprise that I managed to boot myself out of bed before seven on Saturday morning. Then again, the main target of the morning was one of my personal ornithological favourites -lekking Black Grouse. Sure enough, at least nine males were watched until just after 08:00 when the lek dispersed. In the nearby valley, I recorded a pair of Dippers and at least one calling Crossbill, but completely unexpected was a calling Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. The bird called several times and was also heard drumming; a real bonus. My next destination was the Horseshoe Pass. A wander around the quarry area failed to produced any Ring Ouzels back, but more surprisingly no Wheatears! A Swallow was over farmland towards lower ground.

Early morning on the moors

Lekking Blackcock, 4th April

Later on in the day, we headed over to Erbistock, where a walk along the picturesque River Dee revealed 3 Goosanders (m & 2f), Kingfisher and several Grey Wagtails. Back in Hawarden, the Lesser Redpoll count in my uncle's garden had risen to three.

Did comparitively little today; a walk around Shotwick Pools produced a couple of Grey Partridges and two Siskins, but very little else. There were at least five Buzzards in the area; the density of this species in North Wales and Cheshire now is astonishing. On a nice day, the sky is full of them! Two Siskins flew over my uncle's house in Hawarden, and at least two Lesser Redpolls were again present.

The afternoon was relatively uneventful, being spent travelling back to Lincs. The most notable parts of the journey were a couple of Red Grouse on the Woodhead and a ridiculous number of badger road casualties!

I managed to get out on the patch for an hour or so this evening; highlights were a Green Sandpiper, 14+ Little Egrets, 6 Little Ringed Plovers, c.8 Snipe, c.20 Teal, 3 Redshanks and a fine Barn Owl. Sorry for the rather uninteresting round-up but I'm knackered and am off to bed.

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