Conwy Nature Reserve 13.06.17

Overcast at first, brighter later

Some fifteen members of the Team met for our now regular annual visit to this varied wetland reserve and after a quick discussion, to decide on the route for the morning so as to have the best chance of seeing the movement of birds due to the incoming tide, we headed off in search of Whitethroats, both Common and Lesser, whose presence had been noted on the sightings board inside the VC.

Chiffchaffs and Greenfinches serenaded us as we passed through the wooded edges of the reserve, but mostly they kept out of view and a few of us were beginning to think that the same might be true of the Whitethroats. However such despondency was soon dismissed as movement was seen amongst the grasses and bushes a few metres from the side of the path. After a number of half glimpses, at last we had clear sightings of what was apparently a small family of Common Whitethroats that must have been nesting in one of the larger bushes; a pair of adults and two or three fledglings, the latter thoughtfully staying in one place long enough for some members of the team to get good photos of them. Some passing Long-tailed Tits were quickly seen off by one of the adult birds and we had more views of the fledglings that were pursuing their parents demanding food. Determined scanning of other bushes and trees resulted in some members of the team actually catching sight of the Lesser Whitethroat as well, but this bird was much more skulking in its movements, and many of us failed to catch any sight of it at all.

Eventually moving on, we made our way down towards the estuary where the incoming tide was just beginning to push birds off the sandbanks. Shelduck, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Canada Goose and Curlew were all noted, as well as a mix of Gulls: Herring, Lesser and Great Black-backed. At the Benarth Hide we enjoyed the sight of a mix of water birds, including Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, a Common Sandpiper and a Teal that was hunkered down behind a rock and almost impossible to make out, but the highlight was the sighting of a Merganser resting on one of the islands in front of the hide. Good views were enjoyed too through the screens on either side of the hide (a welcome feature on this reserve) and Coot, Starling, Greenfinch, Pied wagtails and a lone Barnacle Goose were all seen. Interestingly, there was a mix of adult and juvenile birds and careful observation solved an avian puzzle that had presented itself earlier: a brownish bird with black beak, about the size of a blackbird that had been hopping about on the path, turned out to be a juvenile Starling!

Our progress back along the path by the estuary towards the VC (and lunch!) was briefly interrupted, first by the sighting of a solitary Wheatear that perched for some time on top of one of the information boards along the side of the track, and then by the spectacle of a Cormorant hungrily devouring a rather large flat fish of some kind, and reminding us of those pangs of hunger that we beginning to make themselves felt.

Al fresco picnics or a snack in the cafeteria were followed by a trek round the reed beds and onto the Redshank Trail. Warblers were heard in the reeds, but only a few of us caught sight of them. Sound and sighting of a family of Little Grebe was easier from the Boardwalk viewpoint and from the Tal-y-fasn hide Little Egrets, Black-headed Gulls and a Merganser – or was it a Pochard? – were seen. We also spent some time consulting handbooks and deciding on the precise identification of a wader that dropped in on one of the islands across from the hide. At our last destination of the afternoon, the Carneddau hide, we had unambiguous sightings of the Merganser which took to the water making it easy to admire its punk hair style and long bill; a suitable conclusion to an excellent day’s birding, notable both for the number of species spotted and the interesting challenges we had faced (successfully?) with regard to the identification of a few individual birds seen.

Bird List (MH)

  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Greylag goose
  4. Barnacle goose
  5. Shelduck
  6. Mallard
  7. Gadwall
  8. Teal
  9. Pochard
  10. Tufted duck
  11. Red-breasted merganser
  12. Great crested grebe
  13. Little grebe
  14. Cormorant
  15. Little egret
  16. Grey heron
  17. Common buzzard
  18. Moorhen
  19. Coot
  20. Oystercatcher
  21. Common sandpiper
  22. Redshank
  23. Curlew
  24. Herring gull
  25. Black-headed Gull
  26. Great black-backed gull
  27. Lesser black-backed gull
  28. Rock dove
  29. Feral pigeon
  30. Woodpigeon
  31. Swift
  32. Swallow
  33. House martin
  34. Pied wagtail
  35. Wren
  36. Dunnock
  37. Robin
  38. Wheatear
  39. Blackbird
  40. Sedge warbler
  41. Reed warbler
  42. Willow warbler
  43. Chiffchaff
  44. Whitethroat
  45. Lesser whitethroat
  46. Long tailed tit
  47. Blue tit
  48. Great tit
  49. Starling
  50. Jackdaw
  51. Carrion crow
  52. House sparrow
  53. Chaffinch
  54. Greenfinch
  55. Goldfinch
  56. Linnet

Photos DC

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