Sunday, September 22, 2013

New Quay Dolphins

New Quay in Wales is undoubtedly one of the best places in Britain to see Bottlenosed Dolphins. Pack yourself a picnic and settle down on the breakwater wall and enjoy the amazing cetacean show played out in the clear waters of Cardigan Bay. This is exactly what Jane and I did last June, and despite the changeable weather we enjoyed a full day's dolphin entertainment. The animals here can be viewed without optics but to obtain the best views a pair of binoculars is a real boon.
It is not easy to estimate the total number of dolphins seen, but there were at least a two or three mother and calf pairs quite close to the harbour wall, while further out small pods could be seen fishing and performing breathtaking acrobatics in the company of plunge-diving Gannets. Even after many hours of observation it was a struggle to drag ourselves away from this amazing wildlife spectacle; but we will be back.
All photos were taken from the breakwater with a 400mm lens.

This adult Kittiwake fed close to the harbour wall
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Sunday, September 1, 2013


This weekend I had two distinctly different birding experiences with two different species of wading bird. The first bird was a beautiful juvenile Dotterel that graced the grassy plateau near the limestone pavement on the Great Orme, Conway. Dotterel breed on grassy tundra and are also a rare breeding bird of the mountain tops in Scotland. This means that they have very little contact with humans and as a result can be quite tame; as was the case with the Welsh bird that approached to within a few feet of where I was sitting in the sunshine. During the two hours that I spent on site only a handful of birders viewed this confiding wader. In total contrast a the Stilt Sandpiper at Neumann's Flash in Cheshire was but a distant speck in my telescope and afforded scant photographic opportunities. But due to its greater rarity many more birders visited this site. On a scale where zero is failing to see a bird at all and ten is giving the proverbial "crippling" views I would award this bird a paltry number one! That is only one better than not seeing the bird at all. OK, joking aside, it was a Cheshire tick for me, but the Stilt Sands that I have seen before at Minsmere in 1997 and in Dorset in 2011 gave much better views. But I wouldn't go as far to say that it was a bad as the Great Knot in the Northeast in 1996, but that's another story.

Although the sun shone brightly for most of the day the wind was
quite strong and the bird made the most of this outcrop of
limestone that offered some respite from the relentless breeze.

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