Gazing Out To Sea Love It Or Hate It Can Produce A Lot Of Birds 26 August 2020

Great Orme Ruth Alexia Nov

Pen Trwyn, Great Orme, Llandudno the best spot for sea-watching on the headland.

Following a really horrid day for weather yesterday, torrential rain and gale force southerly winds, it seemed it might be worth doing some sea-watching this morning. Looking from the window Gannets and Sandwich Terns were in the bay off the North Shore at Llandudno. A fast walk along the Marine Drive on the west side of the Great Orme, seeing Turnstones, Fulmars and Stonechats, and the point at “Pen Trwyn” was reached. This spot gives a commanding view across the bay back east towards the Little Orme and a huge sweep of the Irish Sea that is the good news. The slightly bad news is the Marine Drive here is high above the sea so the sea-watcher is looking down on the sea rather than across the water, this means you have to scan much more to try not to miss birds closer or further out.

Gannets in a row over sea 1

Wonderful views of Gannets this morning passing the Great Orme.

So the scope was set up, binoculars lifted and the scanning of the grey sea began, sea-watching. Sea-watching is a dark art for sure you need patience, lots of patience if you are to be any good, you can be lucky of course, lift the binoculars and see something amazing straight away, but not usually. Today was a “usual” experience the first few scans of the vast Irish Sea produced almost no birds, two Herring Gulls and a Shag, welcome to sea-watching from the Great Orme. Remember the sea-watching rule? Patience, lots of patience. Keep scanning and a few Kittiwakes make their way west across the bay and actually pass fairly close and while following them Sandwich Terns are picked up also moving west. Now the eye is in more birds are quickly spotted four Gannets moving far quicker than the other birds and “Commic” Terns, too far away to distinguish between Common and Arctic Terns. More birds were now moving, or at least being seen, lots of Sandwich Terns were on the move too and it was difficult to see each bird passing given the huge area of sea below the viewpoint. On the sea just below Pen Trwyn a Razorbill was swimming and a Great black back Gull made several attempts to grab this auk, luckily the Razorbill dived each time and escaped.

Back to scanning the waves and a few more birds were picked up, a distant Arctic Skua flew low and powerfully over the waves a great bird to see. Then three Manx Shearwaters whizzed west and were followed by another fourteen during the sea-watch. A single Manx Shearwater was on the sea below the cliffs and through the scope amazing views were enjoyed of this long-distance traveller but perhaps not a well bird? Twenty-six Common Scoter flew west in small groups, two Great Crested Grebes and three Curlew moved past too. A second Arctic Skua came powering in from the east, this one a lovely pale bird, and unusually landed on the sea allowing prolonged views. The whole time Sandwich Terns, Commic Terns, Kittiwakes and Gannets were passing west so always something to look at. As sea-watches go it wasn’t the worst ever and not the best ever either, well worthwhile and always good practice trying to identify birds whizzing past a headland over a choppy sea! Hopefully better conditions will come in the next two months and more species of seabirds will enjoyed.

Other birdwatchers were also out around the coast of North Wales and enjoyed some good sea-watching….

Ken was at Cemlyn, Anglesey – a Balearic Shearwater, adult Sabine’s Gull and 17 Arctic Skua.

Reg and David were at Point Lynas, Anglesey – 2 Sabine’s Gulls, 11 Arctic Skua, 3 Great Skua and a Little Gull.

Bardsey Bird Observatory, Gwynedd – a Long-tailed Skua, 2 Pomarine Skuas, 10 Arctic Skuas, 3 Great Skua, a Sooty Shearwater, 58 Fulmar, 5 Black Terns, 4 Roseate Terns, a Little Tern and 2,664 Kittiwakes! Also a Citrine Wagtail still on the island.

Tom was at Rhos-on-Sea, Conwy – 4 Arctic Skua and 400 terns.

We are so lucky to have so many species and habitats within easy reach here in North Wales, and once the world returns to normal, 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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