I decided that the first week of my sabbatical should mainly be spent relaxing and birding. Thankfully the weather was Ok and I was able to get out and about on most days!
The first day (on Tuesday 14th April) involved a trip to Anglesey with my birding friend John Small. The plan was to look for migrants around Holyhead and then visit a few of our regular haunts. Unfortunately we were perhaps a bit early for the migrants and only found a couple of blackcap’s at the Breakwater Country Park. We then headed to RSPB South Stack were we hope for Auks especially Puffin’s, Sadly none were in evidence today Fortunately the local Chough but on there usual show to lighten up our day. Having left the South Stack we headed to the Alaw Estuary were we found some Pale Bellied Brent Geese and several small waders to brighten our day. Next we headed to the lagoons at Cemlyn to look for Terns. There were several Sandwich Terns on the lagoon along with a fine adult Med Gull. These are fantastic birds which look a bit like black headed gulls but are much much smarter. We finished the day looking at another great Gull this was the Glaucous Gull which has been hanging around near the tip at Menai Bridge! My wife is always complaining that I go to some terrible places to look for birds!
On the wednesday I took my step daughter to the wirral hoping to find some raptors, unfortunatley the visibility was very poor indeed so we failed to see any Short Eared Owls at Burton Marsh and only had one very distant Hen Harrier. We also called at the Old Bath’s at Parkgate were I had a very brief view of a male Hen Harrier. Bird of the day however was the fabulous young Spoonbill at Inner Marsh Farm. It has to be said though that the fine male Garganey was a close second.
On Friday 17th I heard that a Red Rumped Swallow had been found near Moreton on the Wirral so I got up early (for me) and headed down the M53 to see if I could find it. I found the right spot but the bird did not seem to be around. After about an hour it started to drizzle so I thought I would head instead to Leasowe Lighthouse which was just around the corner. Here I heard my first Grasshopper Warbler of the year! Later I returned Moreton to look again for the Red Rumped Swallow . I was soon joined by four other birders so we all scanned the skies and after half an hour or so we final got great views of the bird as it literally flew over my head.
The day finished with a trip to IMF where I was able to see two Garganey and the green winged teal which seems to spend a good amount of its time hanging around the reserve
At the end of my first week of the sabbatical I had seen a total of 95 species.