Anglesey At Its Very Best And In December A Super Day Out

Short eared Owl Dee Jan 1

Short-eared Owls stole the show but so much more to enjoy on this amazing tour.

We picked up Robin and Vivien at their Llandudno hotel at 8am and drove west to the island of Anglesey. We crossed the bridge over the Menai Strait, the narrow strip of seawater that makes Anglesey an island and soon arrived at our first birding venue.

A Robin hopped around our feet and even jumped up into the boot of the car! This Robin was rewarded for his tameness with some of our snacks. We thought it a good omen for the day. Goldcrests showed off really close along the stream and adjacent hedgerow, you could not have better views of these tiny gems of birds. No sign of the hoped for Firecrest with them but the views of our smallest bird were just delightful. We also saw Bullfinch, Goldfinch and a brief Sparrowhawk here, our second of the day already.

Teal drake Norfolk 2016 1

Teal, our smallest duck, but beautiful birds and we enjoyed super views.

On the nearby flooded fields we had lovely views of flocks of wildfowl in the weak sunshine, the colours of the Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Mallard looking great. A beautiful male Marsh Harrier was a real thrill to see, still rare birds here in North Wales especially in December.

A short drive took us to another flooded field that was alive with birds, amazing what just one wet field can attract. Lots of Redshank, Curlew and Oystercatchers fed around the edge and Gadwall and Wigeon floated on the calm water. Ruth picked out a lone Knot among the Oystercatchers – first time we have seen this species at this site. A Redwing posed on top of a hawthorn bush allowing super looks through the telescopes and yet another Sparrowhawk zoomed over.

A few minutes away we stopped overlooking a shallow bay and were grateful for the calm waters. Scanning the area with the telescopes we soon not one, not two but five Great Northern Divers! Highest count we have ever had here and the views in the good light were wonderful, the battleship of divers this one, large and sitting high in the water. Red-breasted Megansers, Great Crested Grebes, Shags, Grey Plover, Dunlin and a stunning adult Mediterranean Gull all added to the scene here. A hot drink was great too!

We then drove north to Cemlyn Lagoon where there was a cold edge to the breeze but it was sunny. Lots of Wigeon on the lagoon and some very handsome drake Goldeneye were on the lagoon and we quickly found the birds we had hoped to see here – two Long-tailed Ducks! These very scarce visitors to North Wales showed off in the winter sun, such lovely compact, short-billed ducks a joy to watch. Turning to the bay on the other side of the shingle ridge we enjoyed more super views of a Great Northern Diver and two Red-throated Divers. Ruth spotted a flock of Golden Plover roosting on some rocks, always great to see in the sunshine, beautiful.

Purple Sandpiper 1

Purple Sandpipers can be tricky to spot when roosting on rocks at high tide.

We headed for lunch, as we drove a Great White Egret flapped slow over us, great to have a car with a full sunroof on these occasions! A quick stop also gave us a big flock of Pale-bellied Brent Geese, our first Mute Swans of the day and a lovely look at a Kestrel. Lunch was great, at the Sea Shanty, Trearddur Bay and a few minutes later we were enjoying wonderful close views of cryptically plumaged Purple Sandpipers. These wader blend in so well with the rocks they were sleeping on over the high tide. Luckily two Ringed Plover next to them were easier to see and made good landmarks! Through the telescopes we could see every detail and maybe convince ourselves they were a tiny bit purple? Just along the coast we found a flock of Rock Pipits in a small cove, unusual to see so many in one spot, hard to count as they were so mobile but at least sixteen!

On to RSPB South Stack where we quickly found our main target bird, Chough. Three of these wonderful red-billed, red-legged crows were feeding really close and we soaked up the views. Such super birds and wonderful to have such super views of them, one of the species Robin and Vivien had really hoped to see. A Fulmar whizzed around the cliffs but it was pretty bleak on the clifftops so after taking in the views we jumped back in the warm car and headed south.

A Black Guillemot showed nicely in Holyhead Harbour, though of course in winter dress “white guillemot” might be a better name. Then the heavens opened and it threw it down! Luckily we drove for a while and just as we were arriving at our next birding spot the rain stopped and it brightened up, perfect timing. A Stonechat posed for us and huge flocks of Lapwing wowed us. Then we saw what we really hoped we would see, Short-eared Owl! This amazing bird flapped slowly over the sand dunes but then dropped behind a ridge, a short and fast drive brought us to a better viewpoint and we tumbled out. There! Not one but two Short-eared Owls and close! Oh wow! What a wonderful sight and we were all so excited and thrilled to watch these so special birds. We spent some half an hour mesmerized by these gorgeous birds, at least five of them hunting over the marram grass, sometimes fighting, landing, mobbed by Carrion Crows it was just a wildlife spectacle played out before us!

A nearby lake was very wet, who knew, and almost bird less but we did see our first Coot of the day and Vivien caught up with Common Snipe, Robin had seen one earlier in the day. Moving down to the south-west corner of Anglesey the weather turned a bit grim again but we did see a huge flock of stunning Pintail such amazing ducks, a real favourite of ours.

Firecrest Cornwall Oct 1

What a little stunner of a bird to end our wonderful day on - Firecrest.

We ended the day in a nearby wood and saw our first Woodpigeon of the day! I know, impossible you are thinking, but somehow we had been out for eight hours without seeing a Woodpigeon some sort of record surely? We also found a stunning little gem of a Firecrest here. Amazing bit of luck, Alan was “pishing” trying to attract a Coal Tit closer and in came the Firecrest, what a super end to a very memorable and fun day out.

Huge thanks to Robin and Vivien for their wonderful company and good humour, looking forward to more birds with them in March, can’t wait.

Vivien commented “It really was amazing, thank you both so much. Looking forward to March!”

Robin commented “A real highlight had to be the Short-eared Owls, however, there were as you say some superb species. Thank you both very much – looking forward to March!”

Come and join us for your amazing day enjoying wonderful birds, scenery and food here in North Wales or on one of our many Birdwatching Trips across the UK and the globe! Just drop us a line here…

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