A Fantastic Day On Anglesey Day Four Best Of North Wales Tour 19 January 2023

Brent Geese Beddmanarch

Always lovely to see Pale-bellied Brent Geese all the way from Arctic Canada.

A pre-breakfast Woodcock watch again produced sightings of these wonderful waders flying from the adjacent Conwy Valley into the forest behind the hotel to their day time roost. A wonderful breakfast went down well after standing outside in the cold! As we came out after breakfast, we were amazed to see a huge Great Egret flying along the Conwy River just below us, an amazing record.

We then headed for Anglesey, and we were very glad to see the roads were clear of snow after yesterdays tricky driving conditions. Our first stop on Anglesey was near the village of Valley. The flooded field here held a lot of birds! Dozens of Common Redshank were feeding along the edge of the water and amongst them Black-tailed Godwits, Curlew, Lapwing and Oystercatchers. Plenty of ducks here too with Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal so a great start to the trip. A very short drive took us to Beddmanarch Bay where even before we got out, we could see beautiful Pale-bellied Brent Geese very close to the car park. We enjoyed frame filling views of the geese in the morning sunshine, what lovely birds they are. Amongst the geese we noticed Ringed Plover feeding on the exposed mud as the tide dropped. Out in the bay we picked out first one, then two, then three Great Northern Divers! Again, super views of these scarce winter visitors were enjoyed through the telescopes. Then a beautiful adult Mediterranean Gull landed with a small group of Black-headed Gulls right by our group and we enjoyed stunning views of this gull both on the ground and flying around us! Lots more waders appeared as the tide dropped including four Greenshank, scarce birds here, a flock of some thirty Grey Plover and a gang of Bar-tailed Godwits.

Black Guillemot

Black Guillemots were showing well in Holyhead Harbour and one already in breeding plumage.

Next we visited nearby Holyhead Harbour where a hot drink was very welcome, it was cold despite the lovely sunshine. In the harbour we quickly found a Black Guillemot – moulting into breeding plumage so a half and half bird! Three more of these lovely auks were picked out amongst the bouys in the harbour including one bird in just about full breeding plumage – very smart indeed!

Black Redstart Hungary GG

A huge surprise to see two Black Redstarts on Anglesey especially in January!

Then up to nearby RSPB South Stack where the views over the cliffs and lighthouse were stunning. We had only just got out of the minibus when Ruth spotted a Black Redstart! A real surprise to see this scarce bird here, especially in January, and even better it was a stunning adult male wow! This gorgeous bird was mobile around the rocks below the road and sadly soon flew down the cliff and out of sight. As we tried to relocate the bird a very confiding Rock Pipit was found so very close to the road. Then amazingly Ruth spotted a Black Redstart, but this time a female type bird! Crazy, two Black Redstarts on a cliff in North Wales in January, you just never know what you are going to see! We also enjoyed lovely looks at Red-billed Chough riding the breeze in the sunshine – just fantastic.

Purple Sandpiper Rhos

A Purple Sandpiper was tricky to pick out amongst the rocks and seaweed.

A short drive took us to Trearddur Bay where we were aware it was almost lunch time, so the pressure was on to see the hoped for Purple Sandpiper quickly. With the tide a long way out we didn’t have high hopes as so many seaweed covered rocks were available for the sandpipers to feed amongst. Amazingly as we stepped onto the edge of the bay a flock of waders flew low over the water and landed on a rocky spit. Purple Sandpiper! We could hardly believe our luck within moments we had our target bird. The views were tricky looking into the low sun, but everyone managed to see the bird and the Turnstones and Ringed Plover that fed alongside it, whew, time for lunch. We enjoyed a lovely lunch at Catch 22 in Valley and great to be warm after a chilly morning.

We then headed south down the west coast of Anglesey and made a stop to see a beautiful Little Owl sitting out in the sun, wow, always a thrill. A nearby lake gave us super looks at drake Goldeneye and drake Goosanders both such smart looking ducks. Our first Goldcrests of the trip fed in the willows here.

At Malltraeth we walked out onto the Cob Embankment that overlooks the Cefni Estuary on one side and the Cob Pool on the other. Lots of birds here and stunning views of the snow plastered hills of Snowdonia. Stunning Pintail were on the pool, drakes immaculate in their recently moulted breeding plumage along with Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler. On the estuary a Greenshank fed in the river channel and there were plenty of Curlew, Oystercatchers, Redshank and Dunlin. A male Stonechat posed by the path as Snipe lifted up from a ditch.

At nearby Newbrough Forest we watched Coal, Blue and Great Tits coming down to seed we placed on a picnic table for them. The small pool here held the only Gadwall we saw that day and we also saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the trees above the water.

Just time for a quick look at RSPB Cors Ddyga before heading back to the hotel. A Chiffchaff was a nice surprise feeding in the hedge by the car park where we also enjoyed Long-tailed Tits and two more Goldcrests. Lots of ducks on the flooded fields here with wonderful views of Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler.

Back to the hotel to go through the checklist and very impressive 86 species of birds enjoyed. A delicious dinner went down very well indeed after all those wonderful birds.

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