Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rose-coloured Starling

On Sunday the 17th I took my family to Conway RSPB reserve to show them the family of Stoats that had been showing very well on the previous Friday (photos to be published soon). After some good views of the mother bringing food to the kits, I ventured to nearby Rhos-on-sea where an adult male Rose-coloured Starling had been seen. Despite a long wait the bird did not show while I was there.
I returned to the site yesterday (Wednesday), while on my way to Snowdon, and had brief views of the bird perched on the roof of a house but it did not come down to the feeders. I continued on to Snowdon and ran to the summit and back as part of my training for next month's mountain race. I returned to Rhos-on-sea but the bird had still only been seen briefly all afternoon. I was pleased that I had seen the bird earlier, but any return to obtain better photos will have to be postponed until the weather improves again.

Adult Rose-coloured Starling, a gorgeous bird.

Young Stoat licking blood from around his mouth.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

South Stack via Snowdon

On the 26th May I decided to have a go at running up Snowdon as I have an entry in the Snowdon Mountain Race at the end of July. The route follows the Llanberis path, which is also known as the tourist route as it is supposedly the easiest way up. It is about 5 miles to the summit from Llanberis.
It was a beautiful, hot May day; hard to believe after all the rain we've been having recently. Never having walked this way to the summit, (or competed in a fell race!) this was more of an exploratory run to see how my legs coped with the terrain. After parking in the town I jogged slowly up the road that leads to the path to the summit. Within a few minutes I was already walking up one of the steepest tarmac roads that I have ever seen. Thankfully, once onto the rocky path I was able to start jogging again. It was a very hot day, but the main obstacle to my progress was the near gale-force wind; I was glad to be wearing my sunglasses to protect my eyes from the dust. I made my way slowly up the slope passing many walkers. The views were fabulous, but I had to walk in many places due to the wind and the steepness of the gradient. I reached the summit in just over an hour. It was impossible to stand on the summit due to the strength of the wind and many walkers were taking shelter in the lee of the summit cairn.
Suppressing my desire to enter the cafe and buy a refreshing coffee, I immediately set off on the return run back down. With gravity aiding a quick decent my lungs could breathe easy again, but I held back from an all-out flight down to try and save my leg muscles. This was a wise decision as by the time I regained the steep tarmac road my thigh muscles were aching with every step. The journey down took 40 mins, and I was glad to reach my car and down a few bottles of water.
Once changed and re-hydrated, I drove over to Anglesey and visited the beautiful RSPB reserve at South Stack. This superb area of heathland and cliffs is home to fabulous seabirds such as Guillemots, Razorbills, a few Puffins and that enigmatic crow the Chough. I spent a lovely afternoon here admiring the wildlife and the scenery, but my leg muscles didn't appreciate the walk down the steep steps to the lighthouse after my exertions in the morning!

Guillemots nesting on the cliff.

The much-photographed South Stack lighthouse.

Chough with larval prey item.

Friday, June 8, 2012


It's been a good few years since I've visited Seaforth Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Liverpool. I had many good days' birding there in the late eighties and nineties but never got around to applying for the (now required) permit until recently. The overall size of the land given over to wildlife around the pools has been much reduced but the birds seen on and around the water are still superb.
I was lucky enough to time my visit at the end of May to coincide with the appearance of two Roseate Terns and a Black Tern, all beautiful birds. I'll make sure that I don't leave it so long until my next visit.

Black Tern hawking over the pools at Seaforth

Black Tern, a beautiful bird.

Common Tern posing on a rock outside the hide.

Common Coot doing what they do best, chasing another Coot!