Christmas Day Birdwatching On Anglesey Proved Very Happy Indeed

Christmas Day Snow Buntings were a real delight to enjoy, eventually.

With the lockdown restrictions eased a little for Christmas Day it was a chance to get out and see some different birds away from our local patch the Great Orme. So after easing into Christmas Day we headed over to the island of Anglesey arriving late morning but still time to enjoy lots of birds on this calm, grey cold day.

First stop was the flooded field near Valley and we immediately saw the hoped for Green Sandpiper feeding in the shallow water. Such a lovely wader and always a delight to see especially in December where they are scarce winter visitors.

Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Beddmanarch Bay on Anglesey a species that is increasing every winter.

A few minutes later we were at Beddmanarch Bay and looking at a lot of birds! Some two hundred Pale-bellied Brent Geese were strung out along the falling tide in front of us and amongst them masses of waders. Big flocks of Dunlin were head down feeding like crazy and every now and then lifting up and swirling around like Starlings in a murmuration just wonderful. Plenty of Red Knot and Grey Plover feeding here too along with Curlew, Oystercatchers, Common Redshank and a few Bar-tailed Godwits. Offshore on the calm sea there were Great crested Grebes and Red-breasted Mergansers and after some concerted scanning we found three diminutive Slavonian Grebes.

At nearby Holyhead we walked out on to the breakwater but no sign of the hoped for Snow Buntings so we tried again, no sign of these wonderful birds sadly. One more sweep as we know they can be easily missed if they are creeping about in vegetation. Ruth spotted a bird flying ahead of us, first one we had seen here, but it was a Rock Pipit and even this landed out of sight. But it had stopped us in our tracks and we noticed movement on the bank just to our left, Snow Buntings! If the Rock Pipit had not flown we may well have walked past the buntings for a third time. Once found these delightful birds from the Arctic showed off just a few yards away and even when we knew just where they were they could “vanish” into the dead vegetation to pop out again. We watched them for a good time they are such enchanting birds and once found so confiding.

Mediterranean Gull underneath

Adult winter Mediterranean Gulls are such stunning birds and seven at once was wonderful.

Next we called in at Treaddur Bay but it was over-run with people, dogs and not a bird to be seen! Luckily just down the road the Inland Sea was undisturbed and full of birds. A Merlin was on a fence post pretty close to our viewpoint and luckily stayed long enough for the scopes to be set up and we could enjoy frame filling views of this pocket-rocket raptor before it shot off low over the marsh. Out on the tidal flats were lots more Pale-bellied Brent Geese and waders and amongst them we counted seven adult Mediterranean Gulls always lovely birds to see. On the water we quickly located five Greater Scaup in a bay with Red-breasted Mergansers and Goldeneye. We were joined by our great friend Ken Croft who was on a long Christmas Day bird walk from his Holyhead home. Ken spotted the wintering Long-tailed Duck with a small flock of Goldeneye another great bird for our day list. We returned the favour spotting the Merlin hurtling across the water and Ken was very pleased to add this raptor to his walk list. Further out on the Inland Sea two Great Northern Divers were fishing but the views were very distant. In the hedgerow here we added Goldcrest, Redwing and Mistle Thrush to our festive day list. We said good-bye to Ken and headed south down the west side of Anglesey.

A lovely flock of Fieldfare, a pair of Stonechats and a surprise Little Owl and then a big flock of Skylarks, some forty birds, all boosted the list. Then at Aberffraw we watched a lovely Greenshank in the river channel and nearby a gorgeous flock of Golden Plover and Lapwing always a joy to see. Then at Malltraeth we enjoyed watching Ringed Plover, lots of Pintail and another Greenshank. In the nearby woods we added Jay and Coal Tit and on a small pool Gadwall was new. It was now speed birding as the light was failing so just time for a quick look at RSPB Cors Ddyga. A superb male Marsh Harrier was the highlight here hunting over the flooded fields and looking just wonderful. We also finally saw a Common Snipe and a nice surprise of a Lesser Redpoll in a tree top a bird we don’t often see on Anglesey. As we headed back to the car large flocks of Starlings were heading to the marsh to roost and one flock formed a perfect heart shape in the sky a lovely end to a great few hours of festive birding! Back we counted up the Christmas Day list and we were very pleased to total 90 species of birds enjoyed, hope you a wonderful Christmas Day too!

Come and join us for a “Tour for Two” – very small group just two guests with two guides, tailor made itinerary, low risk in these COVID-19 times and of course lots of birds and an excellent chance of enjoying them all. Do drop us a line and we can make all the arrangements be it a day trip, two days, three day or as long a tour as you wish. Our recent Tours for Two have visited the Highlands of Scotland, North Wales, Norfolk and the Yorkshire coast and we are planning many more! Let us know where you would like to go and we can put together a proposal perfect for you.

We are so lucky to have so many species and habitats within easy reach here in North Wales we would love you to join us for one of our Best of North Wales Birdwatching Trips days out. We expect to enjoy a lot of birds during these relaxed pace tours and we can tailor make the day to suit you.

We would love you to join us on our Birdwatching Trips in the future just drop us a line to arrange a custom tour and please see our tours pages for set departure trips. If you have any questions at all please fire away here….

We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds in beautiful places with you soon!

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