My first full week off work and towards to end of it I actually started to feel less tired. I was now managing to walk all round Westport without feeling totally knackered by the end. Unfortunately, it was quite quiet still, until Friday. I had a phone call on Thursday evening reporting an immature GREAT NORTHERN DIVER at Chasewater. On Friday, we did a shortened walk around Westport and then headed off south. It had actually been three years since my last GND in Staffs, a self found one at Blithfield in December 2009. We were rather spoilt in 2006-08 with the number of birds frequenting Chasewater.
We parked up by the Swag, and stood next to ESC, and as always we had a very nice chat. The immature Great Northern Diver was diving in the top right hand corner, but we were looking into the sun. We walked up the right hand side path and enjoyed some rather good views. It makes a change for a diver to be on the Swag, and obviously showing better than normal.
Imm Great Northern Diver at Chasewater
While we were at Chasewater, I had a call to say MPR had found a GREAT NORTHERN DIVER at Blithfield. Well, we might as well see two GND in a day while we could, so we headed over to Blithfield. We met up with Roger, but we had to walk almost as far as Ten Acre Bay before we found our second Great Northern Diver of the day as it dived close to the dam wall.
Next stop was on the Moors where a SNOW BUNTING had been refound this morning by the Mermaid Pool. Steve Seal and Ann P-B were already searching the area as we arrived, but there were two blokes up there flying aeroplanes, which probably didn't help too much. DP and TE set off down the track, and this coincided nicely with the flyers finally retreating to their cars from the blustery conditions. I stood talking to SS when all of a sudden, DP started to wave. I quickly rang GAS to try to extract him from the warmth of the car, and soon we were watching not one, but two Snow Buntings. Ann managed to grapple the camera from Steve and took some cracking shots.
The Mermaid Pool Snow Buntings. Pics by Ann Pallas-Bentley.
And so onto Saturday. There wasn't much to see in Staffordshire that we hadn't already seen. I fancied a visit to the pits during the afternoon, but we just didn't know where to go for the morning. If I did too much walking before the pits, I would probably have ended up on my knees crawling back across the fields from Branston. When confirmation came that there was a DESERT WHEATEAR in Rhyl (following a report of a Wheatear there yesterday) , PJ suggested we headed there. It was an easy decision to make, as it had been six years since my last DeWe in Britain. We picked PJ up and we were parking up by the golf course in Rhyl in no time. There was a smallish crowd of photographers on site, and the female Desert Wheatear was showing extremely well as it fed on the sea wall by the side of the path. It was always hotly pursued by the long lens boys, who just had to get that closer shot than the close shot they had just got. Basically, the poor old Desert Wheatear was chased up and down the path. In the end I stood still, knowing full well that it would fly back down towards me again.
Female Desert Wheatear at Rhyl - only the second record for North Wales.
and another shot by PJ. This is my first female DW in Britain!
Satisfied with our views at Rhyl, we headed off to see what else we could find along the coast. We had quite a long session at Llandulas, starting off on the high road on the Llysfaen Station Road. We thought the views from here would be too distant and naff, but we were pleasantly surprised that we could pick birds out on the sea. PJ found a Black-throated Diver, and you could even see the female Common Scoters, but no sign of the SURF SCOTERS. We drove down to the beach, but the light had started to fade by now. You could still spot the Red-breasted Mergansers and auks but picking out a bobbing SURF SCOTER proved impossible. We did see seven Velvet Scoters (in flight!) and an adult Iceland Gull flew past.
We headed for home, but we just had one last bird to see, and another Welsh tick for me. We headed towards Kinmel Bay, and we were soon watching 53 of them. Fancy having to twitch one of these when you live in North Staffs - Waxwing capital of Staffordshire (in some years anyway)
Welsh Waxers at Kinmel Bay by PJ