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April 2011

The main purposes of this trip to North Wales were to lend a hand to my daughter who has recently bought a house that is need of some decorating and to gather together some of my scattered family, but I couldn’t let the opportunity to check out the local wildlife pass by, so the following posts are based on the photographic wildlife journal I kept whilst I was there.

My exact location was Rhos-on-Sea, also known as Llandrillo-yn-Rhos in Welsh, which is a seaside resort on the Irish Sea, located between the towns of Llandudno and Colwyn Bay in the County Borough of Conwy, North Wales .The population was 7,110 in 2001. It is named after the Welsh kingdom of Rhos established there in late Roman times as a sub-kingdom of Gwynedd, and later became a cantref (hundred).

7th April

The house is located just a few hundred metres from the sea in a quiet residential area of mainly older houses that are surrounded by mature gardens with plenty of trees. There appears to be a healthy population of birds here; I woke this morning to the raucous sound of gulls that get going almost before it’s even light. They were followed at daybreak by a far more tuneful chorus; through my open bedroom window I could pick out the songs of Blackbird, Robin and Wren and the piping of a Chaffinch, all soon to be drowned out by the early morning cheepings and chirpings of the local tribe of House Sparrows. I was soon reminded that in Britain, if left undisturbed they happily live up to their name as ‘house’ birds and here they spend much of their day quite literally around the house. They are noisy but cheerful company, keeping up an almost constant dialogue amongst themselves throughout the day and showing themselves frequently as they go about their present daily business of preparing to nest and start new families. (In Spain, although the birds do visit gardens to forage and bathe etc., their behaviour around people is more timid.) In perfect condition and showing off their attractive and boldly patterned plumage, the males are clearly ‘singing’ for mates now, sometimes venturing up to the top of the hedges to do so, but mainly preferring to have the security of the hedge behind them.

An interchange between two male House Sparrows, watched by a Dunnock

The garden next door is well stocked with bird feeders and also has a small pond which attract a good number of birds, some of which then include this little garden in their foraging area, including Blue Tits and Great Tits.

My favourite views of the day were those of a pair of Dunnock that were industriously gathering nesting materials. I’m fairly sure the male was picking up dry grass and thin twiggy bits, but around midday it was definitely the female that was coming to the lawn and pulling out great beakfuls of moss with which to line it.

While the female was busy gathering moss, the male sang from the apple tree

All this activity convinced me that I had timed my visit perfectly and that as I had hoped I would get to experience at least part of a second Spring.