Monday, 13 May 2013

Slightly soggy times in North Wales

Yesterday was the monthly West Midland Bird Club trip, this time to RSPB Conwy and Loggerheads Country Park in North Wales. I didn't get round to writing this last night as I decided to chill out with a film in the evening, 'A Royal Affair'. Is it just all these ducks I've been drawing recently or does Mads Mikkelsen look a bit like a duck? Not in a bad way, he was great, as was everyone else concerned, what an excellent film. Anyway I digress.

There was some trepidation due to the weather forecast and when we arrived at Conwy it was indeed rather windy and a bit drizzly. That didn't put off the hundreds of hirundines and Swifts though that were swerving and darting around over the water and our heads.

....but it doesn't discourage these Swifts and Swallows.
Andy M obviously had his hawk eyes on as he managed to pick out an aberrantly-plumaged Swift with a partially white tail and rump, cool.

My plant ID endeavours are continuing apace, got a bit carried away with it this time.

The pot might be a giveaway that this was for sale in the shop, rather than growing on the reserve, it was pretty though and I wanted to know what it was. Maybe not surprisingly then it wasn't in my wild flower key and I had to resort to Google to find out that it is a Navelwort cultivar Omphalodes cappadocica 'Starry Eyes'.

Think this one is Red Campion (Silene dioica).
Clumps of this were growing between rocks on the slope leading down to the beach and saltmarsh. It's probably Sea Mayweed (Tripleurospermum maritimum), shame it wasn't yet blooming as it has lovely daisy-like flowers.
I often see this growing in saltmarshes and wonder what it is. I think it is Sea-purslane (Atriplex portulacoides). Apparently it's edible too, next time I'll have to try some!

Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis).
Crikey. This is some kind of Water Crowfoot but I had no idea they were so complex til I looked at my key. Some very careful observation in the field would be required before I could try making any more detailed identification!
I managed a couple of very poor drawings at Conwy, the shame!

Disgraceful sketches of Red-breasted Merganser and Swift. Must try harder.

After Conwy we headed to Loggerheads Country Park where it was raining on and off but at least less windy for the most part.There are some excellent limestone cliffs there, I had a quick look for fossils but didn't find any.

Mmm, check out that geology.
We caught a brief glimpse of a Dipper zipping down the stream, and had great views of a very active and smart male Grey Wagtail in fine breeding plumage.

Classic habitat for Dippers, Grey Wagtails and oversized landlocked wooden fish.

But the highlight of the afternoon was the numerous Pied Flycatchers that came out despite the rain. They were so close I even managed an (admittedly not great) photo.

Little does that oblivious cyclist suspect that there is an awesome Pied Flycatcher just metres away! His loss!
A couple more plants:

What a handsome plant. Mike P said this was Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum) and he was not wrong.
I already knew what this was, just put it in because I like it. It's Wood-sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), a tasty springtime snack. Don't eat too much though!

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