A Rare Sea Gull Bird Books And More As We Look Forward To More Freedom

Do love a juvenile Iceland Gull - this one in Rhyl was no exception a stunner!

An Iceland Gull, a rare bird here in North Wales has taken up winter residence at a small lake on the south side of Rhyl, a seaside town not so far east of us here in Llandudno. Under normal circumstances we would have popped over to see this “milky-coffee” coloured rarity pretty sharpish but of course we are in lockdown so travel to work and essential journeys only, which we have kept strictly to. Very frustrating as local birder friends have been reporting the bird regularly on their permitted exercise walks from home but we can’t go and see it and we do love a rare sea-gull. There have even been some great photos shared on our local birding group and it really is a lovely looking gull.

Never duck the issue of cash flow is very good advice, especially in a pandemic!

Cash flow, pretty sure that is the first time it has got a mention here and there is a good reason for that it has never been an issue until the pandemic. When we started our business Birdwatching Trips folks said keep an eye on cash flow can be a killer for small companies, we listened and did but it was always fine, money came in money went out we got by, only just some months but all good. Then something called COVID-19 reared its very ugly head and the world was turned upside down in March 2020. This was particularly bad timing for us as we had suffered a huge financial blow in late 2019 when a company called One Ocean failed to deliver an Antarctic cruise that we had paid in full for and we were unable to recover a single penny of that loss. So suddenly we found ourselves with no income, a scary prospect that many people across the world shared. We did find we were able to qualify for a small amount of government help so luckier than some that fell through the cracks in the system, but this help very welcome though it was did not cover our out goings so savings have been whittled away. Had the pandemic ended in 2020 we would have been ok but we have struggled a little in the 2021, all monies paid for future trips are protected in a trust fund which we do not access until after each trip is delivered so any upfront costs such as hotels, minibuses, flights etc. are all paid by us before we draw down on client’s money paid for the trip. Now this a wonderful system that totally protects our guests money but of course when no trips are running, thanks to a pandemic for example, no income and the dreaded cash flow become reality! So, what to do? Drastic action sadly and we undertook a fire sale of our beloved bird books, a collection built up over fifty years! Very sad indeed but also good that some of them are going to loving homes where they will be treasured and used, as bird books should be. The response has been pretty good, still plenty of sale if you would like a list just email us, and has eased the cash flow problem without us slipping into debt so all those books collected over all those years were a good investment as well as a source of great joy.

But don’t despair even from grim times good can rise up! Today we look forward to a reduction in the COVID-19 restrictions here in Wales and we hope the beginning of the end of them, if we can resume guiding anytime in April those book sales will have been a life line. And, some of the books have been purchased by local folks here in North Wales so of course given out total commitment to customer service we offered to deliver these local orders to save our buyers the postage which for heavy items such as books can mount up. Yesterday was our first day doing a Post Man Pat impression as we delivered three orders, now one of those orders was to Rhyl, a seaside town east of us, that you may remember from earlier in the this blog? Well, we were in town so it would have been rather rude not to, sure you agree?

Rhyl Brickworks Fields is a wonderful place to enjoy up close views of birds - Tufted Duck.

We pulled into the car park at Rhyl Brickworks Fields, a park with a lake and popular with local dog walkers, fishermen, exercising types and the occasional local birdwatcher. Only two cars here and no one in sight so we felt safe having our permitted daily exercise walk here rather than on the Great Orme. Out on the rather windswept lake a pair of smart Goosander looked great in the sunshine and a few Tufted Ducks dived for food beneath the choppy waters but the only gulls visible were a few Black-headed Gulls loafing in a sheltered bay. We walked towards the north end of the lake, where our friends had reported seeing the rare sea gull, seeing a lovely shocking yellow Grey Wagtail, Coots, Moorhens and a pair of Great crested Grebes, not bad for an urban lake.

At the north end no more gulls visible but we did pick out a female Greater Scaup amongst a small flock of Tufted Duck, we knew one had been seen here recently. Then a gull floated over just above tree top height and boom there was the juvenile Iceland Gull and what a beauty it was! Sadly this Arctic visitor flew straight over and away soon lost to view, was that it? Lovely but so brief, we had come prepared for sea gull watching so whipped the bread! Even though only a few Black-headed Gulls were in view we know from long experience of living in Llandudno that word spreads fast when food appears in the gull community. A few pieces of bread hit the water squawk from the gulls, and in cam the Black-headeds, soon followed by three Herring Gulls and then wow the Iceland Gull was right there in front of us! This ghostly gull swooped over the lake and circled around showing off both upper and undersides what a beauty and so much sweeter that we had waited so long to see it. The Iceland Gull was a little shy compared to its larger cousins the Herring Gulls but did manage to grab some food though it never landed. A wonderful encounter with a beautiful sea gull and made possible by helping folks save money on postage now that really is a win, win situation! We headed back to Llandudno very happy indeed; we do love a rare sea gull.

A wonderful bird and so photogenic against the light, not bad these "sea-gulls" are they?

Of course a wonderful way to see more birds is to join one of our Birdwatching Trips and learn a lot about the birds you are enjoying too. We have tours suitable for all from beginners to experienced birders that are seeking particular species. Just drop us a line here and we can arrange a perfect custom tour for you!


We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds with you as soon as it is safe.

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