Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Celtic Tour

Back from my holidays visiting family in Wales and Ireland. We stayed with family in Wrexham, North Wales first.

24th July 2010
I took the dog for a walk around the heather covered hillside at Llangollen a few miles outside of Wrexham. The first bird I saw was a GS Woodpecker which flew from the heather, not exactly typical habitat. As we reached the top of the hill four Ravens flew over. Two disappeared over the other side of the hill whilst the other pair landed on top of a pile of rocks which marks the hilltop. Unlike the Ravens I have seen in the past these Ravens are used to people and so they stayed on the rocks until we were within a few metres. From this distance I could appreciate the size of Ravens especially their beaks. Once we had reached the rocks they flew off and mobbed a circling Buzzard before ‘’gronking’’ loudly overhead. It was great just sitting on top of the rocks, looking over the Cheshire plain with the Ravens circling over the Llangollen valley. On the way back down I could hear but not see a flock of Crossbill. And a Tawny Owl gave a quick call from the plantation.
In the evening we were coming back from a takeaway in Wrexham city centre past the police station tower when I noticed a juv Peregrine Falcon which had just flown from the tower roof. It was then joined by a pair of adult Peregrines and the three flew around the tower before bolting off NE. I had tried to see the Peregrines which have been nesting on the police station since 2003 in the past, but had always failed. They are one of my favourite birds and to see them in such an urban environment makes it even better.

28th July 2010
Conwy RSPB
I was dropped off at Conwy RSPB on the banks of the Conwy estuary. Due to the constant rain I spent the whole day from the Car...something welsh hide which has the best views anyway. When I arrived the tide was quite low so all the waders where on the estuary but as the tide got higher they pushes further up before landing on the reserves main pool. In total I counted 80+ Oystercatcher, 50+ Redshank, 50+ Curlew, 30+ Black Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, and 2 Common Sandpiper. There were at least 8 Little Egrets in the heronry and 6 dotted around the main pool and its islands including one lurking amongst a group of Curlew.
A Great Crested grebe was feeding 2 young chicks fish on the pool and there was a full winged non ringed Black Swan.

29th July 2010
South Stack RSPB
On our way to Holyhead, Anglesey, to catch the ferry to Ireland we had a spare hour which we spent at South Stack RSPB. Once on the cliff next to the visitors centre it didn’t take long until 4 Choughs – Lifer, flew overhead calling before landing on the rocks next to the costal path. They then flew off and landed on the cliff face. Also 2 Ravens flew over.
On the ferry to Ireland I had an hours sea watch from the deck. Over 200 Manx Shearwater were flying past and around the boat. I saw around the same number of Guillemot, most were sitting on the water and a lot of them were juv birds with adults. The sea was surprisingly quiet during the rest of the time and I only saw 5 Gannet, 5 Fulmar, 1 Puffin and 1 Sooty Shearwater. A Black Guillemot flew past the ferry as we came into Dublin Harbour and 2 Hooded Crows landed on the grass in front of the National Museum of Ireland whilst we were stuck in traffic.

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