Birding: A Catch up session

Having recently been up to my neck deep in work I’ve unfortunately not been able to get round to writing as many posts as I’d like about my days out exploring the avian world. Now with some free time on my hands thought it’d be best to try and summarise some of my recent birding trips with a single image and brief description in a new type for format for the blog:


‘American’ Black-crowned Night Heron: Too good for reality ?

Night heron 1_edited-1
“American” Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax Nycticorax hoactil) – Shrewsbury, Shropshire

So, the term plastic fantastic is one we use fairly often within the ornithological and is most used reflecting that of waterfowl, but for birds that at first may appear the real deal, the tables can soon turn with this ‘American’ Black-crowned Night Heron being the most recent example.

When the bird first showed up at Venus Pool NR, Shropshire it was deemed by many a simple case of the real deal. The bird stayed for several days before departing and that was the end of that, yet the bird was then relocated at Quarry Park in the heart of Shrewsbury. It was at this point that the question of the birds origin started to become questionable, not only was it super duper tame but it was also identified as the North American race N.n.hoacril, a race that’s often kept in captivity.

Captive “American” Black-crowned Night Heron aren’t something unfamiliar to the golden oldies reading this as you’ll recall the free flying flock up in Edinburgh Zoo; escapee’s aren’t anything new either with several records of escaped bird being documented in the UK. I with many others believe this to be the king of plastic fantastic but, it can’t be 100% proven as hocril birds in their native lands can be stupidly tame as this bird is.


Ruddy Shelduck: The Plastic Fantastic

Orral RSD_edited-1
Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) – Orral WP, Gtr Manchester

When it comes to escaped species that just look utterly devein, several species come to mind: Red-crested Pochard, White Stork, Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead and of course Ruddy Shelduck. Now, due to these species often being hard to prove as genuine birds then the vast majority of such species are in-tickable.

Having arrived fresh from my work experience on Bardsey Island I was rearing to get back out in the field; with a stonking 3rd cycle+ female Ruddy Shelduck on show up at Orral Water Park I thought it would be worth the visit with Luke Anderson for good company.

The bird as you can showed beautifully as did a supporting cast of Common Swift, Board-bodied Chaser and Great crested Grebe. Afterwards Luke and I headed down to the Sefton Coast to drop in at Crosby Marine Lake and Seaforth NR in the pursuit of Roseate Tern. In the end we didn’t get what we were looing for, however the pair of us were treated to the site of 100c Common Swift & 20c Northern House Martin hawking right over our heads.


The Queen of Ceredigion

1st summer King Eider
King Eider (Somateria spectabilis) – Ynyslas, Ceredigion

To round this post we find our self’s on the on the banks of the Dyfi estuary in mid Wales that divides the counties of Gwynedd & Ceredigion. The latter is a county that I hold dear to my heart and over the years I’ve spent many a summers venturing through the ancient woodlands, scorching dunes & apatite waters. Ceredigion is by far Wales hidden treasure and it was a delight be back in the county after 2 years of absence to be attending the Aberystwyth University open day.

Once my talks where over and done with mum and & I headed up the road to Ynyslas to take a look at the 1st summer ‘Queen’ Eider which had taken up residency on the banks of the Dyfi estuary. Despite King Eider turning as far south as Cornwall fairly regularly, it comes as a surprise that before this beauty turned up that Wales has only had a single record of King Eider.

Arriving at the site it was only a matter of minutes before she revealed herself out on the estuary feeding amongst the seaweed. Encroaching on the bird I managed to get close to enough to gain my best views yet of this species and a series of records to accompany the experience.

Besides the King Eider other birds avian life consisted of both Green (1) & Common Sandpipers (8), Whimbrel (4), Dunlin (2) along with Bar-headed Goose (1).





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