We Get To Go Birding More Than Five Miles From Home At Last 6 July 2020

Puffin on island Norway

After months in lockdown it was good to get out to different habitats and see Puffins!

Back in March, over three months ago, Wales went into “lockdown” strict restrictions on movement to stop the spread of Covid 19 virus. For all this time we have kept strictly to the guidelines issued by the Government even when their own senior advisors and members of the Prime Ministers own family flouted these same guidelines. These guidelines asked people to stay at home only leaving the house for one exercise walk a day and for essential shopping, the UK shut down with only essential food shops open and most of us did our best to stop the spread of the virus. In late June we were allowed to travel five miles from home but no further, living on the Llandudno peninsula this didn’t really open up any different birding habitats for us so we kept to the Great Orme though it did allow us a cheeky lockdown twitch to Rhos-on-Sea for a beautiful adult Rose-coloured Starling.

But today, the 6th July, finally the travel restrictions were lifted we can now drive as far as we like from home! So this morning it was up early and where to go? We are so lucky we have so many habitats here in North Wales from high mountains through moors, woods and marshes down to the coast. From our window here in Llandudno we can see, on a clear day, the mountains of Snowdonia but not this morning just low cloud. So the coast it was and Anglesey in particular to search for some birds we had not seen this year due to lockdown.

RSPB South Stack was wild and windy today but lots of birds to enjoy.

First stop was at RSPB South Stack near Holyhead where a few changes since our last visit many months ago. Yellow no parking signs reach much further along the approach roads than previously in preparation for introducing car park charges when the car parks re-open all shut and blocked off this morning! The new RSPB visitor centre is taking shape and hopefully open before the end of summer? Luckily being early there was enough room to park at the end of the road but five cars and it would be full, luckily just one other car here. Opening the car door we knew why so few people here it was blowing a gale! Blimey this did not feel like July more like October as we struggled into heavy coats and battled towards the steps down towards South Stack lighthouse. The first scan of the rough sea below the towering cliffs was covered in birds, hundreds of Common Guillemots and Razorbills were being tossed about in the waves. We moved a little lower down and tried to hold the binoculars steady and we checked each bird on the sea hoping to pick out an Atlantic Puffin a bird we had not seen this year. It was tough with the gale making it hard to see and the same wind making our eyes water! But amazingly given the dire conditions a Puffin was on the sea, yes! Always great to see Puffins but to see one after months in lockdown for months was just brilliant.

Just a few of today's Common Guillemots can you spot the "bridled" bird amongst them?

Moving further down the steps the wind was slightly less and we had wonderful views of the breeding birds on the sheer cliffs. Hundreds and hundreds of Common Guillemots and Razorbills here and we ended up seeing at least five wonderful Puffins, three on the water and two at the entrances to their nest burrows. A big flock of Kittiwakes lifted off from the rocks beyond the lighthouse as two RAF shot low over us, amazing to see so many Kittiwakes here, maybe they are always here? Gannets were skimming low over the wild sea and a few Manx Shearwaters were also battling past the headland but hard to watch as they kept being lost to view in the troughs between the huge waves.

Back up the steps towards the car and a Peregrine rose up from below us, paused in the air above us and shot off over the cliffs. Always a thrill to see these wonderful falcons and we headed off very happy with our first visit to RSPB South Stack for months was windy but exhilarating for sure!

An amazing sight created us today at Cemlyn Lagoon today masses of terns.

Up to Cemlyn Bay on the north coast of Anglesey and we were greeted by masses of terns flying over the islands in the lagoon behind the beach. What a wonderful sight hundreds of terns catching the sun as they rose and fell in the sky and we jumped out to enjoy the spectacle. The majority the birds were Arctic Terns with smaller numbers of Common and Sandwich Terns amongst them a wonderful sight and sound. We set up the scope and enjoyed super views of all three species of tern in the sunshine both flying and on the islands. We also picked out an adult Kittiwake amongst the terns and a Red-breasted Merganser was on the lagoon.

The left-hand Black-tailed Godwit has been colour ringed we hope to find out where.

We then walked a nearby track and came across four beautiful Black-tailed Godwits in a grass field, the birds were resting standing on one leg and we saw one of them was colour-ringed. We managed to get some photos of the colour combination. Hopefully we can trace this individual Black-tailed Godwit and find out its history. A bit further along and we spotted a superb Little Owl on top of a stone wall in the sunshine wow! Luckily the owl was happy sunning its self and enjoyed prolonged looks at a species we don’t get to enjoy very often.

We enjoyed amazing views of this wonderful Little Owl today posing in the sunshine.

Back at the lagoon we again scanned the array of terns on the islands and got lucky with a beautiful adult Roseate Tern standing mid-way along the main breeding island for the tern colony, some brilliant birds today!

On the way back to Llandudno we stopped off at RSPB Cors Ddyga where the car park was open but the reserve trail were closed, however the public footpath to river of course was open. Walking along here we listened to Skylarks singing right above, so wonderful, particularly for us as we have lost our breeding Skylarks on the Great Orme so had not heard one of these beautiful song birds for months. Kestrels were everywhere with at least five birds over the reserve hopefully a sign they have had a good breeding season. Still a few Common Swifts hawking over the wet fields along with House Martins. Then a female Marsh Harrier appeared over the marsh to our left and we had super views of this wonderful bird and so amazing to see them here on Anglesey for so long absent from North Wales.

It had been a very successful and enjoyable first outing post lockdown and so good to enjoy some of North Wales’s wonderful birding locations.

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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