A Wonderful Day On The Isle Of Anglesey With Special Birds 19 April 2021

Garganey Drake 1

Any day that you see a drake Garganey is wonderful but there was so much more!

Today we headed west to the island of Anglesey only half an hour drive from our base in Llandudno to enjoy the wonderful birds the area has to offer. First stop was at RSPB Cors Ddyga – a wonderful marsh where the RSPB has created superb habitat for birds. We walked the track towards the Cefni River and soon we were enjoying the song of Skylarks pouring down from above. On the wet fields a gorgeous flock of breeding plumaged Golden Plover were stood shoulder to shoulder as we soaked up the views Lapwings displayed above giving their amazing calls what a beautiful scene. In the water filled channels we watched Shoveler and Teal but there was no sign of the hoped for drake Garganey seen here the previous day. A Marsh Harrier floated over the area always a thrill to see and we picked out a breeding plumaged Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper on the wet muddy areas. As we headed back towards the car park we saw the drake Garganey flying over the fields with three Shoveler and in the beautiful sun shine we could clearly see all the details of this fancy looking duck. Garganey are rare visitors to North Wales so a real thrill to see this bird circling over the reserve. We willed it to land and it did! Unfortunately at the same moment a van drove down the track and the Garganey shot up into the air and flew off west but we were very happy to have seen this lovely migrant bird.

Next to Holyhead Harbour, mainly to use the loos, but while we were there we checked the harbour and it was great to bump into our friend Iolo Williams, that bloke off Spring Watch, who was doing some filming there with his lovely crew. A good old chat and laugh and we enjoyed some wonderful close up views of Black Guillemots too, bonus!

Then a short drive took us to RSPB South Stack where the scenery was just breath-taking in the glorious spring weather and we soaked it up. Northern Wheatears were on the cliff top and a Rock Pipit posed for us Chough wheeled around calling at times below us, at times at eye-level and at times just over our heads just magical. We walked down the steps but sadly the cliffs were empty of seabirds, this often happens early in the season they head out to sea on mass, but we kept scanning. Luckily we spotted two Atlantic Puffins on the sea not far out – always great to see these amazing seabirds. More scanning produced small numbers of Common Guillemots and Razorbills on the sea and a few passing Gannets. Six Black-legged Kittiwakes were resting on the calm sea below us and we spotted harbour porpoises just off the lighthouse and the more we looked the more of these wonderful marine mammals we saw perhaps as many as twenty!

Dotterel 11

Male Dotterel in spring this one photographed on the Great Orme some years ago.

Just south of RSPB South Stack is the headland known as The Range and the previous day two male Dotterel had been seen here but no reports of the birds yet today. But we decided to have a look for them anyway, it’s a lovely maritime heath with beautiful views back to South Stack. Again we enjoyed the songs of Skylarks and more Wheatears but despite to good look around no sign of the Dotterel so we began to walk back to the car park. As we headed back we saw our great friend Ken Croft, the chap who first found the Dotterel, coming towards us so we waited for him to see if we had been looking in the right area. We had not, the headland is a big place and Ken seen the birds several hundred yards to the south of where we had been searching. Ken kindly took us to the spot and there were two male Dotterel – wonderful and a huge thanks to Ken. These lovely plovers were feeding amongst the heather and grass and we ensured we gave them plenty of space as we watched through our Leica telescopes. To far for photographs but we were delighted to see these rare birds especially as it seemed we had missed them.

Cemlyn Lagoon

Next we drove north to Cemlyn Bay on the north coast of Anglesey and enjoyed a lovely late picnic lunch overlooking the lagoon. Some sixty Sandwich Terns were back on the islands in the lagoon and it was lovely to hear their raucous calls in the still air. We had three sightings of stunning pairs of Mediterranean Gulls in their full breeding plumage, not sure if six birds were involved or just one very mobile pair? A Common Gull was also on the islands in the lagoon and Red-breasted Mergansers were diving for fish in the pool.

We walked out towards Cemlyn Headland stopping to admire a stunning flock of Golden Plover in a field along with several smart White Wagtails. Very few birds were moving over the sea, Gannets and Sandwich Terns, so we took the coast path west and had a lovely walk enjoying great views of 22 Whimbrel on the beach and lots of Sand Martins before cutting back through fields to the lagoon and the car-park.

A lovely day visiting varied habitats enjoying 82 species of birds including the drake Garganey and two Dotterel both fantastic species here in North Wales and all in glorious sunshine.

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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