The Wettest Day Ever In Wales And We Were Guiding Day Two Custom Tour

Mediterranean Gull

We do love to see Mediterranean Gulls, such lovely birds.

In the early hours of Saturday 16th March we were awoken by lashing rain and gale force winds hammering on the windows of our Llandudno home, not good, as in eight hours we picking up our guests. At 7.30am we picked up Lisa and Mark, from their Llandudno hotel, and the met Jade who was joining us today, at Llandudno Junction railway station, the rain was torrential and the wind gale force. We turned onto the A55, heading for Anglesey, to be met by signs warning of floods, high winds and hazardous driving conditions, far from ideal. With rain so heavy it was hard for the wind-screen wipers cope we slowly made our way onto to Anglesey, wondering how on earth would we see birds in these conditions.

Pale-bellied Brent Geese on Anglesey

Pale-bellied Brent Geese, all the way from Arctic Canada to winter in Wales.

By a miracle as we neared Holyhead the rain just about stopped, though the gale force winds still blew, we stopped by a flooded field, there were many, to check a flock of gulls. Alan quickly picked out three Mediterranean Gulls amongst Black-headed Gulls, a brilliant start to our birding. Nearby at Beddmanarch Bay we could just about stand up in the wind, but no rain, and watched lovely Pale-bellied Brent Geese close to the shore. We also enjoyed super views of Dunlin and Ringed Plover here, Great crested Grebes were on the rough seas and a Great northern Diver was well offshore so very hard to see.

At Holyhead Harbour we watched Black Guillemots in their smart breeding plumage, also more Great crested Grebes and three Shags here but sadly no sign of any hoped for divers.

Next we went to McDonald’s, no not for a second breakfast but for a bird. At first just a few Jackdaws then a head popped up above the “A” in the McDonald’s sign! Hooded Crow! Brilliant the bird we were looking for, but it did play hide and seek with us, one minute in view next vanishing to reappear on a lamp-post, but we all saw it well, so time to move on.

Heading west to Treaddur Bay we were exposed to the full force of the gale, foam whipped up by the storm was blowing across the road looking for all the world like snow-drifts! We had never seen anything like this before. But we did find two Chough, in fields, just to the north of the bay, and enjoyed good views, from the shelter of the car. At nearby RSPB South Stack the visitor centre was shut due to the storm and there was no point in getting out the wind was just crazy.

At the Inland Sea we had hoped it might be a little sheltered, it was not, but we did manage to see two pairs of Red-breasted Mergansers, Goldeneye, more Brent Geese and a Little Egret. Lunch went down very well indeed and it was good to be out of the gale.

With the wind still crazy wild we decided to head back to the mainland in the hope of finding some shelter. We headed to Aber Ogwen just east of Bangor, the wind was a little less but we were back into heavy rain! But the hide here is gods send in bad weather, over-looking an estuary on one side and a wooded pool on the other a perfect place to watch a good selection of birds. On the estuary side we were delighted to see a flock of 110 Black-tailed Godwits, by far the biggest number of this species we had ever seen here. Two Greenshank fed in the river channel and we were very pleased to see a pair of Dippers feeding along the edge of the river in full spat so much water coming down here! On the pool side of the hide plenty of birds coming to the feeders in the pouring rain including Nuthatch and Great spotted Woodpecker.

With the rain still hammering down we hurried back to the car and drove east to RSPB Conwy where the coffee shop and hot drinks were very welcome. Nice to be out of the rain and in the warm and we could still see birds. Plenty of Gadwall were feeding on the lagoon here along with Shoveler, Little Grebe and Mute Swan. Alan managed to spot an adult Kittiwake flying over the pools in the storm and luckily this reserve rarity landed briefly so every got to see it. We then braved the elements again and battled down to the Tal-y-Fan hide which more of a wind-tunnel! But we did manage to see Pochard, Goldeneye, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser; Great crested Grebe and a soggy Skylark. Sadly no sign of the Grey Phalarope, we could not blame it for hiding in these conditions!

It had been a very tough day indeed but we were pleasantly surprised to tot-up the birds we had enjoyed, 65 species of birds. Given this proved to be the wettest day ever on record with over 12 centimetres of rain falling on North Wales accompanied by gale force winds that was a very good total indeed!
v A really wet day but still plenty of great birds and lots of laughs come and join us soon for the very best Birdwatching Trips. Please email us here to arrange your very own trip…..

We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds like these with you soon!

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