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Where to go in February (1 Viewer)

RobinD

Well-known member
I am bringing my family up for a long weekend at the begining of halfterm and will be staying just outside Porthmadog.

I think I will be allowed a day free to go birding and have only visited in summer before.

Can anyone recommend the best winter sites to concentrate on?

Are there Hawfinch at Caerhun this winter, where is best for sea duck (don't get many in Berkshire), sites for Chough, what is on the cob at the moment - any Whooper Swans? Anywhere good for raptors?

Thanks for any help...

ATB

Robin
 

jogresh

Registered nutjob
Hi. It's a brilliant place to bird in Feb.
There have been reports of Hawfinches at Caer Hun this winter, it's the best time of year. A more reliable spot is Llanbedr nearby. Llanelltyd churchyard is often reliable, i've even had them in the churchyard in the middle of Dolgellau.
Seaduck - Black Rock Sands or Harlech. Inland Sea on Anglesey. Llanfairfechan for GND, Madryn for Slavs but it needs to be flat calm and high tide and you need a scope.
Chough - cliffs on the Lleyn, Barmouth, or S Stack, Aber Mtn Gate, Great Orme. Most places where there's suitable habbo.
Whoopers - Llanfrothen.
Raptors - Ynys Hir or Borth Bog, or Malltraeth/Cefni estuary.
In strong southerlies bird Criccieth for Little Gulls and poss phalaropes.

Best bet is to check the Where to watch section of "northwalesbirdforum" or buy the Site Guide by Roberts and Davies, but not the new ed. of the WTWB which is laughably out of date.
Cheers.
 

RobinD

Well-known member
Hi Jogresh,

I have been through the book and looked at the forum as you suggested so I have a wealth of possibilities! I might even get two days (or part days) out.

Can you give me more info on where to look for Hawfinches at Llanbedr y Cennin? The forum suggests an orchard near the church. Is this obvious?

Is Black Rock best at high tide for sea duck? I think high tide will be about midday next Sunday.

Thanks,

Robin
 

jogresh

Registered nutjob
Hi, i was at Black Rock Sands today when the tide was out and i found it OK for birding. For me personally, i prefer it flat calm with no wind. When the tide is out you are more elevated above the sea and get slightly but significantly longer views of the sea duck among the waves.
However, i know some very experienced birders who have fruitful visits in a gale at high tide. One in particular tends to use his car as a hide as you can drive onto the beach here. It means you get no shake at all. Unless the car is rocking.
I started up on the Black Rock itself, you get great views but you need a powerful scope and good conditions. Be very careful with parking, gates and sheep here. I then went to the far east end of the beach to check the scoter flock down there from a dune. Easiest is to drive along the beach. Was fairly quiet overall, 2 Long Tailed Duck and 2 Pale Bellied Brents were best with lots of Sanderling and Knot and at least 6 Rock Pipits and a Stonechat round the corner on a huge mat of rotting seaweed. Didn't have time to check the cob for Water Pipit - be careful here coz you can get some funny looking Rock too!
Re: Hawfinches, best bet is to post on Northwalesbirding coz although i only live about 5 miles away i've not been for quite a while but i know a lad had one there on Friday.
Cheers.
 

jogresh

Registered nutjob
Probable tho distant. Was really looking for white patches on the heads coz a Surfie was seen not far across the water at Harlech recently!
 

RobinD

Well-known member
I had an eventful visit, largely down to my 3yr old being unwell which limited my birding opportunities!

I managed a half hour stop at Foryd bay at dusk on Sunday - One Dark-bellied Brent with 23 Light-bellied and plenty of the expected waders with quite a few Bar-tailed Godwit.
On Monday I had a five hour dash around and did very well. I dropped my brother-in-law off in the mountains somewhere south east of Harlech (he's training to be a mountain leader).
First stop, as you suggested, was Llanelltyd churchyard which delivered a fine male Hawfinch. I then headed up the A470, stopping a couple of times to scan for raptors in glorious conditions but nothing was showing. I then went to look for Whooper Swans and finally found some by the Osprey viewpoint. There were half a dozen in a far field but one had the good grace to be on the river by th the bridge with the geese. I then headed to Pontllyfni where I sat and ate my sandwiches while viewing seven GNDivers. A party of Razorbills was a bonus. Walking the stream failed to find a Dipper and roadworks meant I missed checking the cliffs to the south for Chough. Time was moving on so I headed down to Black Rock Sands and climbed the Rock to search for Chough and scan the sea. The Choughs eluded me as they always seem to (I have never seen a Welsh Chough in half a dozen attempts!) but a pir of Ravens kept me company. Scanning the sea revealed several grouops of Scoter but I couldn't find any with white in - shame! I drive down the beach failed to find any waders save a few Oycs. Out of time I made my way back to the Rhinogs to collect my B-in-L, only to discover he was an hour behind schedulewhen I go there. The only bird on the mountain was a solitary Raven.

Thanks again and I can't wait for my next visit...

Robin
 

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