You may have noticed a few Canada Goose eggshells around the reserve over the last few weeks. The herring and lesser-black backed gulls take a proportion of the goose eggs every year, but this gull will have had trouble breaking open the shell, as it's found a golf ball. Think how smooth and perfectly round a golf ball is, and you realise that carrying the ball in its bill is quite a feat! A great photo by Aled Williams on the Conwy Flickr photostream.
Despite the gulls, there are plenty of successful Canada goose nests, with a creche of 18 goslings swimming around the lagoons this week. We've also spotted another brood of Mallards this week, and if you hear high-pitched cheeping from the Carneddau Hide, that's because there's a brood of blue tits being fed inside the roofspace.
The good weather has finally enabled northbound waders to move, but they won't stay long, as it's now a headlong rush to get to the Arctic. Star find was a curlew sandpiper, rapidly heading into ruddy summer plumage, on Wednesday (23rd), while there were at least 50 dunlins wheeling around the estuary this morning, as well as a few ringed plovers and at least four little ringed plovers. A few wheatears are still passing through, and this morning a spotted flycatcher was a nice find near Tal-y-fan Hide.
The fine sunny weather has finally enabled some butterflies and dragonflies to get going. There were plenty of orange tip butterflies around yesterday (25th), and several common blue damselflies around the ponds. The stoats are out-and-about, and on Thursday, warden Sarah was lucky enough to see an adult carrying 10 young kits from one den to another, so expect to see more stoat action on the reserve over the coming weeks.
Job opportunityIt's Dave's last week working in our Coffee Shop, as he moves on to pastures new. So we're looking for someone to fill his shoes. If you know someone who would be interested in working at a fantastic location for three days a week, please point them in the direction of our website.
Olympic torch relayFinally, the torch will be passing the north end of the reserve on Tuesday morning (29th), around 8.50 am. Our gates will be open from 8 am, and you're welcome to park and walk along the estuary to see the flame go past the Cob. Why not follow that with a walk around the reserve, then a cup of coffee and a piece of cake when our Coffee Shop opens at 10 am. Don't forget to bring your Ddraig Goch or Union Flag!
It's that time of year when every day sees new migrants moving through on their way to their summer homes, and this week there's been plenty of variety out on the reserve. We had a male cuckoo at the far end of the reserve on 6 May, a whinchat also on 6 May, yellow wagtails on most days and up to 8 wheatears on the Estuary Track. Waders have also been moving through, heading up to their northern breeding grounds - small parties of whimbrel are seen daily out on the estuary, along with groups of dunlin, and we've spotted both ruff and grey plover on the Deep Lagoon. High tide has often brought small numbers of sandwich terns into the estuary, following the fish which they feed on - their rasping cries are unmistakeable as you walk along the Estuary Path, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for them! Two Mediterranean gulls also briefly visited us on 7 May, and on 12 May we were treated to two red kites sailing over the reserve, heading south down the valley.
The most spectacular sight this week was on 10 May, when hundreds of swallows and martins were seen on the ground in front of the Carneddau Hide. It was a cold, wet and windy day, so presumably they had recently arrived on migration and were exhausted from struggling against the weather. There seems to be plenty of food for them on the lagoons just now, as we've had a big hatching of non-biting midges - you can see them caught in the spider's webs on the windows!
Our hapless pair of great crested grebes are suffering their usual trials and tribulations - having built the nest in a very exposed situation right in the middle of the Deep Lagoon, they were washed out within a few days. Undeterred, they decided to build again in exactly the same place, and again the nest disappeared. Thankfully they hadn't yet laid any eggs either time. They then appeared to have an attack of good sense and started building closer to the shore by the causeway, but that evening when I went along to see what they were up to, they were busy building back in the first location again, and a big fat terrapin was sitting in the middle of the sensible nest! The terrapin has been here for several years, presumably dumped when it outgrew its tank, and is always a surprise when you first spot it, as not quite what you would expect to see here.
On Wednesday 16 May, we're going to be having a special evening when we open up the Coffee Shop after the usual Summer Evening Stroll. If you fancy coming along for a cup of coffee and cake sitting by the Shallow Lagoon as the sun sets, then come along for the walk - no need to book, just meet at the Estuary Gate at 7pm, and the walk is free!
Photo of swallows by Alan Gray
This is a bit of a catch-up, as we've had a busy few weeks. Remember that you can keep up-to-date with our nature news on Twitter or Facebook in between our blog posts. This brilliant photo of a willow warbler was our April Photostream Conwy Picture of the Month, and will be used in our social media throughout May.
Despite getting their nest washed out by last weekend's rain and winds, the pair of great crested grebes will not be defeated and have built a new nest, that looks a bit more substantial. Fingers crossed for better weather. We're hoping that some better conditions will also help the first lapwing chicks that hatched on Thursday.
There are still a couple of pairs of little ringed plovers around the reserve, but neither seems to have settled yet. Waders have been a bit slow coming through, but a few whimbrels and dunlins have been here the last few mornings, along with bar-tailed and black-tailed godwits and a smart summer-plumage knot.
We've had quite a good number of Sandwich terns in the estuary this spring, including six on Thursday 3rd, perhaps pushed in to shelter by the northerly winds. A whinchat was a nice surprise this morning, feeding alongside four wheatears on the saltmarsh. A few yellow wagtails have been among pied and white wagtails on the estuary this week, but the wagtail passage has diminished in the last few days. A grasshopper warbler was on the Ganol Trail on several dates, most recently on Wednesday (2nd). The cowslips are still looking spectacular around the coffee shop, but get here in the next few days to see 'em, as they'll soon be over.
The swallows, swifts and martins have been a spectacle over the last few weeks, feeding low over the lagoons during poor weather, and around your head over the estuary track if it got a little warmer. Other highlights during late April include six white storks over Llandudno on Monday 23rd (but seen from the reserve by standing on a picnic table!), ring ouzel in the paddocks on Sunday 15th and redstarts on Sunday 15th and Monday 30th.
Not all our visitors are welcomeThe first visitors to the reserve on Friday were greeted by the sight of the Benarth Hide with part of its roof ripped off and the guttering wrecked: we'd been visited by some undesirables (that's not the culprits in the picture, even though they might look a bit suspect...). Thanks to our alert visitors and social media, we knew about this before we'd even arrived on site! Two of our brilliant outdoor volunteers, Dave and Phil, came in this morning and did some temporary repairs, at least to ensure that it's watertight over the next few weeks, but ultimately we'll have to replace the whole roof, at a cost of hundreds of pounds. That's hundreds of pounds raised by volunteers, donated by visitors and members, which we can't spend on something else. What a shame!
The man from planning, he say "yeah!"On a more positive note, we were delighted to receive confirmation last week that Conwy County Borough Council has approved our plans to create new outdoor visitor facilities, the centrepiece of which is Y Maes. We've also appointed a Project Officer, to organise the programme. Laura Kudelska starts here on 21 May, and we look forward to her helping us transform the area between the Visitor Centre and the Coffee Shop.
Get out and enjoy the reserveThe Summer Evening Strolls have restarted for the summer, every Wednesday evening at 7 pm (you don't need to book). The reserve is a brilliant place to spend a couple of hours on a summer's evening. And we've just posted our June events online, so see if there's something that grabs you.
PS. We still have a few places left on our Birds for Beginners course on Sunday 27 May.