Best Of Anglesey Birdwatching Trips Gales And Signs Of Spring 14 January 2023

How wonderful to hear a Song Thrush in full song in mid-January, Spring is coming!

We picked up David from his Llandudno Hotel at 8.15am and then picked up Jayne in Llanfairfechan for our Best of Anglesey day trip. As we were in Llanfairfechan Jayne suggested we look for “her Dipper” and a few minutes later we saw “her Dipper” what a wonderful start. We made a short stop at the seafront at Llanfairfechan where we felt the strong winds. Lots of Oystercatchers here along with Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone and Dunlin. Offshore we could see Common Scoter amongst the waves but little else on the sea so decided to head for Anglesey.

Shoveler drake Oct

It was great to have close views of so many ducks including Shoveler.

At Cors Ddyga we were created by a beautiful Song Thrush in full song right by the car park, a lovely reminder that Spring is not so far away. Bird song is so good for us, really lifts the spirts and helps us look forward. The track led between large wetland areas where the water-level was very high after all the recent rain, not far from covering the track. Lots of Wigeon, Shoveler and Teal on the floods and we had great views of pair of Stonechat and a Meadow Pipit before the rain came down. Cold rain driven by a very strong wind straight into our faces had us retreating to the car and heading off in the hope of better conditions ahead.

Great Northern Divers are the "battleship" of British divers - always a thrill to see.

At Valley the rain had stopped, and the sky was much brighter, even a bit of blue visible. Two flooded fields here held a good number of birds with some seventy Redshanks, Curlews, Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, and Greylag Geese. A short drive took us to Beddmanarch Bay where the tide was rising over the huge mudflats and sandbanks. A line of Pale-bellied Brent Geese were feeding along the advancing tideline and amongst them four Bar-tailed Godwits and we enjoyed super views through the telescopes. Two Great Northern Divers were out in the bay – big chunky divers with angular heads and strong bills. More scanning and we found two Slavonian Grebes and several Great Crested Grebes. Lots of waders were being pushed up the bay the fast-moving tide including Grey Plover, hundreds of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and more Oystercatchers.

Black Guillemot

More signs of Spring a wonderful breeding plumaged Black Guillemot.

At Holyhead Harbour Jayne spotted a near full breeding plumaged Black Guillemot not far out amongst the bouys. We enjoyed super views of this dapper auk and were surprised to see it looking black so early in the year, Spring is coming. A few Shags dived for fish; a smart drake Red-breasted Merganser was in sheltered bay along with the days only Little Egret. A hot drink in the café was welcome and nice to be inside out of that gale force wind.

Up at RSPB South Stack the wind was even stronger and it really was hard to stand up straight let alone see birds! The sun was out and the view of the lighthouse with the wild sea behind was certainly dramatic. Two Gannets and Kittiwake were blown past before we sought the safety of the car.

We headed to a nearby bay where the sea was wild with breakers smashing over the rocks sending spray high into the air. Finding a sheltered position we scanned for Purple Sandpipers, just one lone Turnstone. We were about to leave when Ruth spotted two Purple Sandpipers on the far side of the bay. Sadly, these scarce waders moved out of sight before the rest of us got on to them.

Purple Sandpiper 1

Purple Sandpipers on wave splashed rocks - whew we found them!

A lovely lunch went down very well indeed and replenished we headed out into the gale again. We don’t like to miss a bird, so we tried the far side of the bay and luckily soon found four Purple Sandpipers really close! These dumpy little waders were roosting with Ringed Plover, Turnstones and a single Dunlin. As we watched two more Purple Sandpipers joined the roost as the waves crashed against their chosen rock.

A quick scan over the inland Sea proved well worth while with two Scaup seen diving for food in the relatively sheltered waters. Lots of Lapwings here and our first Coots of the day.

We then headed south and checked a spot for Little Owl and given the conditions we were very surprised to one of these gorgeous birds sat in full view. The spot was tucked out of the wind, though we weren’t, and we enjoyed super looks through the telescope. The same place gave us our only Fieldfares and Redwings of the day and a lovely male Kestrel on a telegraph pole.

We couldn’t access a nearby lake due to the high-water levels but did manage some views from the road. On the choppy waters we saw three Goosander, Little Grebes and a handsome drake Goldeneye.

With daylight running out we headed for Malltraeth, stopping to watch a lovely flock of Skylarks and Lapwings, here the wind was if anything even stronger! The wet fields were thronged with birds mostly Lapwings but plenty of Curlew and big flocks of Golden Plover, wonderful. On the pool we watched beautiful Pintail amongst Wigeon and Teal as we struggled to hold the scopes steady.

At nearby Newbrough Forest there was rest bite from the crazy wind and we enjoyed some lovely woodland birds to end the day including Goldcrest and Bullfinch. We had enjoyed a very impressive 79 species of birds, wonderful especially considering the gale force winds! Just goes to show if you get out and look for birds you can just about always have a great day. Huge thanks to David and Jayne for being brave enough to come birdwatching today! We look forward to enjoying more birds with them both in the future.

We run our Birdwatching Trips throughout the year a mix of set departure tours and custom-made trips perfect for you! To book your custom tour or any of our set departure trips please email us here….

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