Day Two Of Four Day Best Of Wales Custom Tour 13 February 2024

Shoveler drake Oct

Drake Shoveler just one of the many species of duck we enjoyed on Anglesey.

We picked up Peter and Margret from their Llandudno Hotel at 8.30am and headed west to the Isle of Anglesey. Our first stop was at RSPB Cors Ddyga where we walked the tracks enjoying a lot of birds. A Bittern was booming always a thrill to hear this rare bird making its unique sound. A Great Egret strode through the shallows towering over Little Egrets and were lucky to see four Cattle Egrets. So many ducks on shallow flood with wonderful close views of beautiful Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal and Gadwall. Common Snipe were out in the open feeding, and we enjoyed frame filling views of the lovely waders. Lapwings were beginning to display over the marsh their wonderful calls a sure sign spring was not so far away. A pair of Marsh Harriers were superb to see, still rare birds in North Wales. What a wonderful start to day two.

We drove a short distance to an open area of big fields watched in awe a vast flock of gorgeous Golden Plover. What a magnificent sight thousands of these waders packed together and lifting up to fill the sky, wow! Lots of Lapwings here too and the very high tide had pushed other waders onto the fields – seven Turnstone we had never seen them here before, forty Dunlin also unexpected here along with Curlew and Oystercatchers.

Then Ruth spotted a bird caught on a barb wire fence in the distance, awful. We sped over there, and Alan leapt over the fence and approached the stricken bird, a Short-eared Owl, oh no! This beautiful owl was impaled on the barbs and in a terrible state so horrible to see. It was difficult to free the poor creature from the terrible barbs but eventually Alan managed to, and we examined the bird. The injuries to its wings were terrible, perhaps it had fought to free itself but actually made the damage worse? Also, the poor was owl so thin, it must have been very weak when it collied with the fence, perhaps a contributing factor to the accident? All in all, this beautiful Short-eared Owl has only just clung to life and sadly there was no way of saving the poor bird. With very heavy hearts we took the difficult decision to put the owl out of its pain. What a freak incident to come across and one we hope we will never see again.

We carried on with great sadness about the poor owl but soon found our way blocked by flood water! The exceptional high tide had come across the road and was way to deep to risk driving through! Crazy. We retraced our steps and got back on our route.

Next, we stopped to watch a Little Owl – always lovely to see one of these superb creatures and this owl was alive and well. Three Goosander flew over as we admired the Little Owl. We then went for a lovely lunch before visiting a nearby bay. The tide was still high, and we quickly found a flock of roosting waders. Oystercatchers were joined and Turnstones, Ringed Plover and best of all a high count of nineteen Purple Sandpipers! We enjoyed super views of these birds.

On again and Ruth spotted some Red-billed Chough, we pulled over and had great scope views of six of these magnificent corvids. As we watched the Chough Alan spotted a Hooded Crow flying over a field, but the bird dropped out of sight before everyone else got on it. Luckily, we soon relocated this handsome crow and it posed on a small dead tree – very lucky indeed.

At RSPB South Stack we enjoyed the spectacular views of the sea cliffs and the lighthouse and watched more Chough, Common Guillemots, and Lesser black back Gulls. Two harbour porpoises were feeding offshore here too.

At Holyhead Harbour we watched a Great Northern Diver and a Black Guillemot along with breeding plumaged Shags. We quickly moved on and arrived at Beddmanarch Bay perfectly timed to coincide with the falling tide. The sea was a millpond and the light beautiful – perfect birding conditions. Birds came thick and fast, and it was a case of where to look next! Out in the bay we watched three Slavonian Grebes and two breeding plumaged Black Guillemots. Waders dropped in to feed on the mud exposed by the receding water. Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot, and hundreds of Dunlin entertained us. Pale-bellied Brent Geese swept in low over the still water to land very close to us, wonderful. A smart adult Mediterranean Gull landed on the mud too – a wow bird!

All to soon it was time to head back to Llandudno after what had been a very unusual day but filled with amazing birds and the best company.

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