A Windy Day On The Isle Of Anglesey At Cemlyn 18 August 2023

Cemlyn Lagoon

Cemlyn Bay is a wonderful place to enjoy great birds all year round.

An early start had us at Cemlyn on the north coast of Anglesey, another very windy day, this time from the east. The very first bird seen, was a very good one, a Wood Sandpiper! This very scarce migrant to North Wales was on a small pool adjacent to the car park. Sadly, no sooner seen than the bird was off, it flew up calling loudly, “yip, yip, yip”, circled twice and then flew low to the west. What a great start to the day.

Ruddy Turnstones, all the way from Arctic Canada were a delight to see.

The small beach on the west side of Cemlyn Bay held more waders, though tricky to pick them out in the seaweed. At least twelve Common Ringed Plovers were feeding here along with three Dunlin, four Ruddy Turnstone and three Common Redshank. At the nearby open beach, the sea was rough and looked promising for some seabird passage. Looks can be misleading, scanning the waves produced very few birds, easterly winds not the best obviously. But persistence does pay off a little with sea watching and small numbers of Manx Shearwaters, Northern Gannets, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns were all watched whizzing past in the near gale force winds. A juvenile Black Guillemot was a nice record and waders were moving too with flocks of Ruddy Turnstones, Eurasian Curlew and Dunlin moving west. Barn Swallows and Sand Martins battled the wind feeding low over the beach as Ravens seemed much more at home in the wild weather, soaring and tumbling in the wind.

Juvenile Ruff are smart looking waders indeed and not common in North Wales.

Back at Cemlyn Lagoon a careful scan around the shoreline reviled a selection of wading birds. The stars here were three beautiful juvenile Ruff, all scaley on the back and buff below, such great looking birds. A single Greenshank strode through the shallows, a Common Sandpiper bobbed along the edge of the main island where more Common Redshank and Eurasian Curlew roosted. Good to see some of the breeding terns were still here with mostly Common Terns but at least two Arctic Terns and a noisy gang of Sandwich Terns. Nine Red-breasted Mergansers dived for fish in the lagoon and a high count of thirty-one Little Egrets were scattered along the shore of the lagoon. A smart first-winter Mediterranean Gull flew in and joined a small flock of Black-headed Gulls on one of the islands.

Wheatear Holme Sept

Another handsome juvenile bird, this time a Northern Wheatear.

Walking west from Cemlyn Lagoon it was still very windy, keeping small birds hidden in the bushes and hedges. Two Little Grebes were good to see on the pool here, winter visitors to Cemlyn back already. A Common Kestrel somehow managed to keep its head still at it hovered in the strong wind, amazing birds. Walking out to Tyn Llan beach it was a little more sheltered and the fence and bramble bushes here held six Stonechats and a very smart juvenile Northern Wheatear along with Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Pied Wagtails. On the beach were more waders including a lovely flock of thirty-one beautiful Golden Plover. These gorgeous birds were in various plumages from part moulted breeding plumaged adults to lovely fresh-looking juveniles, all looked fantastic in the high-powered telescopes. Fifty-one Ruddy Turnstone were busy feeding in the seaweed just below our viewpoint and amongst them a Common Ringed Plover and a Dunlin. A little further along the beach a Whimbrel posed on the waterline with a gang of Common Redshank. Offshore Manx Shearwaters and Northern Gannets were still passing and on a rocky island Eurasian Shags, Great Cormorants, Eurasian Oystercatchers and Sandwich Terns were all roosting. Wonderful Atlantic grey seals were just off the beach with their noses in the air and more were hauled out on the rocky islands, some of these animals making wailing sounds – very strange indeed.

Walking back to car a juvenile Sparrowhawk, a male, flew low ahead of us and landed on the side of the track. This young bird didn’t understand the humans stay on tracks as it kept flying ahead and a short distance and then landing on the edge of the track again. It repeated this six times before finally flying off to the left, but a lovely encounter with this diminutive raptor.

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