3 Jan 2012

Happy New Year.

After a holiday full of family cheer & good food New Years day seemed an ideal opportunity to blow a few cobwebs away with a good walk in the Welsh Hills! Always a good place to pick up a few birds and this time was no exception. We climber Moel Famau and walked around the summit before descending the scenic route around the slope and down through the forestry plantation. The whole area is being managed for Black Grouse and signs are up telling how, through management, the population in this part o the Clwydian range has increased ten fold over the past few years. Knowing their preference for clear fell I kept my eyes open despite the stinging rain that had materialised and was lucky enough t see one Black Cock flying away from me down a steep sided valley. Things got even better with a flock of 20 + Crossbills feeding on larch cones further down.

With the winter gulling season upon us at Richmond Bank and the reports of Iceland Gulls being regularly seen I thought I'd check out the Gowy tip. Driving along the lanes adjacent to the tip I soon came across a large flock of gulls roosting up in a field very close and using the Landrover as a hide I spent a couple of hours going through them. Despite the numbers (2-3,000)  there were no 'white-wingers' and the best I could manage was two adult Yellow-legged Gulls.

I reckon at least 10 -15% of the Herring Gulls were argentatus and there were about 200 Black-headed Gulls and 20 -30 Greater Black-backed Gulls and a a handful of Lesser Black-backed amongst the flock. Whilst scanning my first Yellowhammer of the year flew overhead.

Nearby I spotted a Lapwing flock in a fied of maize stubble so stopped to check them for Golden Plover. No Goldies but at least 400 Lapwings present which is a good sized flock locally these days.

A trip to Hilbre Bank Holiday Monday was more about carrying out essential repairs to the Heligoland traps than birding but we did catch and ring the first bird of the year  - a male Blackbird and had good views of Brents, The Shag and the usual waders .

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