Best Of North Wales Birdwatching Trips Tour Day Four 16 February 2023

Cattle Egret

Very unexpectedly we enjoyed three species of egret on this day, here a Cattle Egret.

A single Woodcock seen before breakfast but great excitement during breakfast as a Great Egret flew in and landed in the river visible from our table! It was brilliant to see this scarce bird, here in North Wales, from the breakfast table and lovely to see it stood next to a Little Egret.

We then headed for Anglesey in rather gloomy weather with the cloud down to almost sea-level! Luckily as we neared our first stop near Valley, on Anglesey, the clouds lifted and it turned into an ok day, whew!

Adult Med Gull MBH

Lovely to find a gang of Mediterranean Gulls at our first stop on Anglesey.

Our first stop was a flooded field that held lots of birds and one of the very first ones we focussed on was an adult Mediterranean Gull, new bird for the trip. As we scanned through the gull flock we found five of these scarce gulls including one well into its smart breeding plumage. Lots of Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Wigeon and Teal along with a mix flock of Black-tailed Godwits, Common Redshank and Oystercatchers. Just as we were about to move on we noticed two egrets had arrived on the far side of the flood, we were amazed to see they were Cattle Egrets! These egrets are rare in North Wales so it was really exciting to find two of them especially after finding the Great Egret earlier in the morning. Photographs and video were taken of the Cattle Egrets to prove the record and then we moved on – already very pleased with our day!

Norfolk Grey Plover

A great selection of waders were enjoyed on this Anglesey day, here Grey Plover.

At nearby Beddmanarch Bay the tide was just dropping, perfect for seeing birds feeding on the mudflats. Lots of Pale-bellied Brent Geese were along the falling tideline and there were thousands of waders out there. The top of the range telescopes really came into their own here allowing us to identify the waders even if some of them were distant. Dunlin, Knot, Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwits, Curlew and Oystercatchers were feeding away here. Ruth spotted a group of five Slavonian Grebes close together in the channel and we all enjoyed super views of these scarce winter visitors.

A short drive took us to Holyhead harbour where a hot drink was very welcome, it was chilly even though the cloud had lifted. Some distant Black Guillemots were on the far side of the harbour, we were very glad we had already seen them at the Great Orme. Next we headed up to nearby RSPB South Stack where it was cold and windy, not nice at all. Highlight here were a group of harbour porpoise just off the lighthouse rocks. Very few birds in the strong wings – a few Common Guillemots flying by, three Lesser black backed Gulls on the island back at their breeding sites already.

We were very lucky to see Purple Sandpipers at low tide, usually seen at high roosts.

We then drove towards Valley again where we had a table booked for lunch, but we hadn’t seen a Red-billed Chough yet! As we drove, we scanned the fields and luckily spotted a pair of Chough, whew! It wasn’t the best place to stop but these might be the only Chough we saw so we jumped out and had reasonable telescope views, not great but so much better than no views! Time was ticking towards our table reservation, so it was speed birding at Treaddur Bay and luckily Ruth managed to spot three Purple Sandpipers on a an island in the bay – whew again! Then it was pile back in the minibus and a very delicious lunch at Catch 22 in the village of Valley.

We enjoyed a fairly leisurely lunch and then headed south across Anglesey and at our first stop enjoyed lovely views of a Little Owl. Owls are always popular, and this pocket sized one posed for us. Nearby three Stonechats showed off, a bird we had hoped to see at RSPB South Stack so great to find them later in the day. A mix flock of Fieldfares and Redwings in roadside fields was a lovely sight too.

A freshwater lake gave us super views of Goosanders including handsome drakes, also lovely to see Northern Pintail here and four Barnacle Geese were a nice bonus species.

We drove across an area of big open fields and stopped to witness a jaw-dropping display by thousands of Golden Plover and Northern Lapwings! These wonderful waders were gathered here on mass and lifted into the air in a murmuration of waders, wow! It really was a spectacular display and we all stood in wonder at these beautiful birds making shapes in the sky.

Just time for one last stop at Malltraeth where it was cold and windy so we didn’t linger long. A huge flock of Northern Pintail were the highlight here before we headed for home and another fantastic dinner back at the hotel. The checklist showed we had enjoyed a very impressive eighty-eight species and stopped for coffee and a lovely long lunch! But it will not be the number of species we all remember but the quality of the sightings we enjoyed, a super day.

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