Tides And Time Wait For No Birdwatchers Even Here In North Wales

Curlew Norfolk 2016 1

If the unchecked removal of our sea creatures continues what will Curlew feed on?

We arranged to meet up with friends Paul and Yvonne from Focal Point Optics in Cheshire at Llanfairfechan and when we arrived the tide was very far out! It looked as though you could walk across to the Isle of Anglesey miles away across the vast expanse of tidal sand and mudflats. Despite the low water a few birds were visible including Little Egrets, Sandwich Terns, Oystercatchers and Curlew. It is very likely that more birds would have been present if not for the presence of a gang of people collecting bucket loads of shellfish and lugworms from the exposed beach. This scale of plundering of our sea-life cannot be sustainable as huge amounts were being removed by this organised gang who arrived on mass. The gang members were all Oriental and unlikely to have been local? Never seen or heard of this happening just her before.

The Whooper Swan at Aber Ogwen, very unusual record for July, photo by Levi Gravett

With tide so far out we decided to head further west along the coast to Aber Ogwen where it was of course still low tide but the river here provides feeding for lots of birds and again the extensive mudflats held birds and no disturbance here. We set up the telescopes and scanned the huge vista quickly seeing many Curlew and Oystercatchers feeding on the mud, more scanning revealed more birds. A Greenshank was feeding in the river channel along with Redshanks and a Common Sandpiper, and then Ruth picked out eight Black-tailed Godwits loafing on the mud, lovely adult birds in breeding plumage. In the channel further out were a flock of Eider and a few Great Crested Grebes but these were pushing the Leica scope to the limit. As we watched the tide began to flood in pushing birds closer and we picked out a lone Whooper Swan amongst the many Mute Swans we had heard it had been seen here the previous day. A very strange record indeed Whooper Swans are winter visitors to the UK so seeing one in July was crazy. But that is one of the many wonderful things about birdwatching unexpected things do happen.

So with the tide coming in it was time to head back to Llanfairfechan where we had a bite to eat and a cuppa in Paul and Yvonne’s amazing VW camper van a real Tardis of a vehicle and so nice to have a fresh brew before setting off on our walk west along the coast. The wind was really strong now and we were walking straight into it! Amazing how quickly the tide had come in hardly any beach left now but a small flock of Sandwich Terns were roosting with gulls near the steam outflow and allowed super close views.

We walked west and reached an area of saltmarsh where we could see birds roosting on the area on the landward side of a shingle spit. The wind was so strong it was hard to hold binoculars steady and even harder to hold the telescope on a bird. Lots of Black-headed Gulls here and amongst them some 70 Common Gulls, high number for July, some Herring Gulls and about 200 Sandwich Terns a lovely sight despite the gale! Two Common Sandpipers were feeding on the marsh too along with a small flock of Lapwing and four Little Egrets. As the tide rose even higher hundreds of Curlew flew in from the west to roost on the saltmarsh and amongst them at least two Whimbrel, lovely to see so many birds dropping out the sky. Another scan through the gull flock and we picked out an adult Mediterranean Gull at the back of the flock but the gale force wind made it tough to enjoy the sighting. Yvonne picked out a Northern Wheatear, a lovely juvenile bird, on the short grass on the shingle spit. A few Skylarks and Linnets flew low over the marsh but always landing out of sight.

We headed back to the promenarde at Llanfairfechan and the shelter of the VW Camper for a very welcome brew. Great to catch up with Paul and Yvonne and share some great birds and wild weather! If you are thinking of buying binoculars or telescopes do check out Focal Point Optics in Cheshire the best customer service and a huge range of products. Please see their website here…


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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