A Blustery Day Birding In North Wales 16 February 2019

Chough June 2015 1

Chough certainly made us sweat on this windy day.

After two stunningly beautiful, sunny, flat calm days Saturday morning dawned with a very strong wind, not good. We met Yvonne, Steven and Julie at 9.15am later than usual as they had driven over from Cheshire and Manchester.

First stop was the famous “Mick’s Back Passage” a narrow alleyway in the streets of Llandudno. At least here in the alley we were sheltered from the near gale force wind, but no sign of the Rose-coloured Starling and no other birdwatchers. But we need not have worried the pink starling flew in and landed on a TV aerial above us in the sunshine, yes! We all enjoyed wonderful views of the Rose-coloured Starling as it moved from roof to roof, this rare bird should be wintering in North-West India! What a start to the day a new bird for all three!

What a great way to start the day, a lifer, Rose-coloured Starling.

We then headed west to Anglesey and our first stop was a shallow bay where the gale still blew shaking the telescopes and making our eyes water. But there were plenty of birds! Pale-bellied Brent Geese, no doubt enjoying the mild conditions having left their Arctic Canada breeding grounds, were feeding on the exposed mudflats. Masses of waders here too, also feeding away with heads down into the wind, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Redshank and Dunlin all here. A small flock of Black-headed Gulls, sheltering near the car-park held two smart adult Mediterranean Gulls, one already acquiring breeding plumage with its black head coming through the other still in full winter dress. Nearby at Holyhead Harbour we jumped out to see three Red-breasted Mergansers really close! These wonderful “punk-headed” ducks gave super views and Yvonne tried to digi-scope them but the gale force wind and the birds habit of diving at just the wrong moment left her frustrated. Two very handsome breeding plumaged Black Guillemots also showed nicely, job done!

We don’t usually visit fast food joints but recently we have made an exception on our Anglesey tours. Pulling into the car park we immediately saw our target bird, a Hooded Crow; this smart corvid was on top of a street lamp. We parked right underneath the Hoodie and enjoyed an unusual view through the glass roof of the 4x4! A second Hooded Crow was on the next lampstand down, two for the price of one at McDonald’s!

Hooded Crow through the car roof pretty cool way to see this great bird.

Next stop was a rocky bay where we often see Purple Sandpipers but the gale here was strong viewing was near impossible and we could see a single wader let alone the cryptically plumaged sandpiper! Move on. Our reliable spot for Rock Pipit and Stonechat was also wind-swept, just a few Oystercatchers braving the elements. Move on. Up at RSPB South Stack we did venture out, briefly, to look at the stunning scenery and we could barely stand up! We checked the whole area, mostly from the shelter of the car, but we could not find a single Chough in any of their regular spots. Move on again!

Time for lunch and hopefully a change of luck and pray that the gale might abate. Well the delicious food showed very well if briefly. Many thanks for lunch Julie and Steven. Out again and the wind was still howling but at least the sun was out. We scanned a shallow bay, again telescopes shaking and eyes-watering and luckily quickly found the hoped for Long-tailed Duck. This scarce visitor was feeding with three Goldeneye, whew; a bird we had hoped for was showing!

Next stop a freshwater lake and yes you have guessed it the wind was wild so hardly a bird to be seen on the choppy water. Lots of beautiful Lapwings were in nearby fields and Steven picked out a Fieldfare amongst them. We did finally find a pair of Stonechats always lovely to see. With a lot of scanning we did pick out some ducks, Goosander, Gadwall, Teal, and Goldeneye and in a field by the lake both Canada and Greylag Geese. A single Common Snipe flew low overhead our only one of the day. We moved on again and checked an area where we had recently enjoyed wonderful views of Short-eared Owls but not surprisingly no owls were on the wing. As we scanned, in vain, we have a great close view of a Peregrine, a Kestrel landed in a fir tree and another Stonechat was on the stonewall. Then a real stroke of luck, Chough! Very unexpected here but sure enough five of these red-billed crows flew low over the grassland and right past us, whew! Don’t think we have ever not seen Chough on one of our Anglesey days out but it was looking very likely to happen today. The Chough made two fly pasts and the two more flew the same way, that’s the beauty of birdwatching you never know what might turn up next and where!

A huge flock of Golden Plover swirled over cattle fields and we at last saw a Common Buzzard crazy not to have seen one before late afternoon. We ended the day watching beautiful Pintail and Wigeon and a few woodland birds to boost the list including a handsome Jay. Back to Llandudno where the wind just kept blowing! A great day with lovely company and some great birds despite the challenging conditions! Looking back on the birds we did see a very good day indeed.

We would love you to join us for Birdwatching Trip here in North Wales or further afield please see our tours pages for details or email us here…


We look forward to sharing great birds, wildlife and scenery with you soon!

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