Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Ceredigion Bird Race

Marc, Arfon and I met Russell at the Ynys-hir car park at 4.30am to begin the bird race. We started off with a walk through the reserve to get the majority of the more common species as well as a reeling Grasshopper Warbler. A scan from the Marian Mawr hide produced a few nice bonuses like Great White Egret, Osprey, Teal, Goosander and an Otter.
 The next stop was the Ynyslas brickhouse where we added most of the common seabirds as well as a Red-throated Diver, Common Scoter, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin and Ringed Plover. A quick look onto Ynys Tachwedd fields added Cattle Egret and Ring-billed Gull. After this we stopped off at Glandwr, and as per usual there was nothing of interest on the pool. As Arfon and Marc went to look at the row of small pools in the field around the back of Glandwr pool they flushed a pair of Snipe, one significantly larger than the other. Incredibly it was a Great Snipe! An absolutely outstanding spring record and the first Ceredigion record since 1947.
 As we stood around discussing the Snipe, a Bittern boomed from Aberleri fields, and then a Water Rail called from behind Glandwr! Absolute madness! We then ticked off Cetti's Warbler before heading off to Ynyslas, where really good numbers of small waders built up with the incoming tide. 70+ Sanderling and 100's of Dunlin and Ringed Plover including a bird ringed in north wales were at the point. A couple of nice bonuses included two late passage Whimbrel, three Grey Plover, Sandwich Tern, Common Gull and a passing Redpoll. Quite a good start to the race I'd say!
We then headed off for Nant-y-moch where we only managed to add Grey Wagtail and Wheatear, in around an hour. A quick stop off at Bwlch Nant yr Arian added Little Grebe, Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe to the list. The Hafod Arch added Crossbill and Tree Pipit and Cwmystwyth added Peregrine.
Cors Caron added some tricky to get species like Willow Tit and Spotted Flycatcher as well as a brilliant Hobby. Cwm Brefi quickly added Kestrel, Yellowhammer and Whinchat to the list. Onto Cei Bach where we added Fulmar before heading off to New Quay where we found Rock Pipit, Chough and Shag as well as a corking male Bullfinch along the coastal path!
With the day beginning to come to an end we headed back up north along the coast where we managed to see the Aberaeron Mandarin and Long-tailed Tit. We managed to sneak a Med Gull from the Llanrhystud beach carpark before heading up to Nanteos pool to finally add Coot to our list after three failed attempts elsewhere.
We then finished the day at Cross Inn Forest where we got Tawny Owl and had brilliant views of a Nightjar flying over our heads, thanks to Chris and his car stereo.
We ended up with a brilliant 124 species, beating the previous record by 6! Some of the notable misses of the day include Marsh Tit, Sparrowhawk and Red-breasted Merganser, so there's room for improvement next year! Many thanks to Gary Reynolds for his generosity and support of the day.

Edward O'Connor