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Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
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1st December is the birthday of both Alan and our good birding friend from Anglesey, Steve Culley, so it seemed only right and proper to all go birding again this morning.  We met at Conwy RSPB and piled into Steve’s car.  Our destination was Caerhun churchyard and our target bird was Hawfinch.  Driving over the Tal-y-cafn bridge, Steve suggested we stop to look for Common Sandpiper.  Piling on hats, gloves and thick coats, we grabbed the scopes and scanned the river.  Within seconds, we had our target bird on the south side of the bridge. Bobbing on the water’s edge was a sandpiper, but something about it seemed a little out of the ordinary.  It had an extremely short tail, in fact there was no tail extension at all beyond the primaries, normally a field mark of a Spotted Sandpiper.  But though a Spot Sand would have been a great birthday bird, unfortunately a combination of grey/green legs, mono-coloured bill and patterend tertials just didn’t add up to a Spotted Sandpiper.  Stringing wasn’t an option, so we decided upon an odd-looking Common Sandpiper after all. We did manage to get some half-decent photos so perhaps someone out there might know better….
Back in the car, we drove the short distance to Caerhun Churchyard, often a good spot for Hawfinch.  There were plenty of Mistle Thrushes enjoying the yew berries, and many Chaffinches, Greenfinches, and Goldfinches chattering in the trees.  A Sparrowhawk swooped low and flushed the birds, even more than we’d realised, and amongst them a bull-necked Hawfinch – job done! Turning our attention to the water meadows immediately below the churchyard, we checked the flock of noisy Greylag Geese and were pleased to pick out a single Pink-footed Goose amongst them, a good local record.  A handsome drake Goosander dived for fish in the main channel of the River Conwy, while a Buzzard surveyed the scene from a fence post. 
It was bitterly cold here, though a spectacular spot with a thick snow coating on the top of the surrounding mountains, so we headed back downstream to Conwy RSPB for a warming drink in the Waterside Coffee Shop, where we not only enjoyed a steaming hot chocolate but views of two Kingfishers chasing each other along the edge of the now-brimming lagoon.


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