Our season started with a visit to Conwy RSPB, our first for some 5 years. The weather forecast was unpromising, with two days of solid rain immediately prior to our meeting. However, by judicious use of the hides at Conwy, we managed to stay relatively dry, transitting between the hides when just drizzling or with the tap off altogether.
We gathered together at Conwy around 10:00, booted up, flashed our RSPB cards at the volunteers on the doors and set off for the circumnavigation. First stop of interest was the coffee shop, where a Little Egret made an appearance, as did Redshank and Dunlin. A dozen Pied and White Wagtails fed on the mud shallows with a couple of Meadow Pipits, and we identified a Little Stint, which put in a brief appearance. Small numbers of House Martins and Swallows fed along the banks of the lagoons and sometimes extremely low over the water.
We wasted no time in moving on to the hides on the north side of the reserve, as high tide had pushed a few waders onto the reserve to roost. Oystercatcher, Curlew, Greenshank and Lapwing were all noted, and a Kingfisher arrowed into the reeds on the left side of the Tal-y-Fan hide, while a Chiffchaff, part of a greater movement through the country, flitted in the bushes of the left side. A lonely eclipse Shoveler, roosting on a lagoon island was picked out, while diving Little Grebes entertained us.
As we approached the T-juction in the path leading to the Carneddau hide, we disturbed the same, or perhaps another Kingfisher from a small pool, and an orange and azure blur darted low along the path towards the hide, needless to say, gone when we reached the corner. Waders added from the Carneddau hide included Black-tailed Godwit and Common Sandpiper, and a mudflat in front of the hide allowed closer study of Godwit and Greenshank, not to mention a number of Red-headed Mergansers. Bands of juvenile Goldfinches with baby-sitting adults chased from seedhead to seed head, while a hunting Sparrowhawk betrayed its presence as it lifted over the banks on the east side before diving back behind them.
Walking the path on the east side produced little that was new, although we finally saw one of the many Robins that had been “ticking” away at us. A Great Black-backed Gull stood sentinel on a newly-revealed sandbank in the estuary, while Cormorants commuted up and down. The Little Stint was rediscovered in front of the Benarth Hide, just 30 metres away with excellent light behind us. This allowed close study of the features of this juvenile bird, in particular the the white “braces” running down the back of the bird, the feather fringing, and the feeding actions of the bird. Only thing missing was a Dunlin to compare it with! Last bird to fly into the notebook was a female Reed Bunting in its namesake habitat, 43rd species of the day.
|Seen on eastern lagoon and estuary.
|Greater Canada Goose
|Single from Tal-y-fan hide.
|Small numbers in shallow areas.
|One eclipse from Tal-y-fan hide.
|Several mainly in eastern lagoon.
|Several hauled out in front of Carneddau hide.
|Little Grebe ruficollis
|Seen from Tal-y-fan hide.
|Several seen commuting up and down the estuary.
|One from the coffee shop at the start of the visit. More later.
|Eastern end of the reserve.
|One seen from Tal-y-fan hide over eastern end heading north very low.
|Seen soaring just north of the reserve.
|Several around the reserve.
|Mainly eastern end.
|One on one of the roosting islands, several groups along the estuary.
|Several roosting on the reserve.
|Single seen extremely well from the Benarth hide.
|One early in front of the coffee shop.
|Two in front of Carneddau hide.
|One to left of Carneddau hide, several in flight.
|One to left and in front of Carneddau hide.
|One in front of Carneddau hide.
|Several small groups.
|Commonest gull at Conwy.
|Two or three.
|Great Black-backed Gull
|One on estuary.
|Seen in flight.
|One near Tal-y-Fan, one behind Carneddau hide flew up path towards hide,.
|Several hawking insects over the reserve.
|A couple hawking insects over the reserve.
|A couple at the rear of the mudfalt opposite the coffee shop.
|White Wagtail yarrellii
|Dozen on mud in front of coffee shop.
|Heard numerous times, seen at eastern end.
|Heard numerous times, seen at eastern end.
|Seen around Tal-y-Fan hide.
|Near Carneddau hide.
|North of reserve.
|Seen from Benarth hide.
|Feeders near visitor centre, and near coffee shop.
|Several groups around the reserve feeding on seedheads.
|One from Benarth hide.