July 2021 Keeps On Giving Two Amazing Waders Add To The Fantastic List Of Birds Enjoyed

Spot the Long-billed Dowitcher a bit far away for our camera sadly but a fantastic bird.

A very belated birthday gift, from December 2020, was finally possible with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions – a two night stay at a country hotel in Cheshire and as we know good birds don’t usually turn up in July! On the morning we were due to head over to Cheshire, 26th July, there was news of a Long-billed Dowitcher at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands, which just happens to be in Cheshire and only a few minutes off our route to the hotel! So of course we popped in for a look and we were in luck our friend Phil was stood at the entrance and had the bird in his scope, how’s that for timing? We had good looks at this rare visitor from North America as it slept and occasionally fed amongst a group of Black-tailed Godwits. The rarity was in pretty much full breeding plumage so a brick-red colour and sporting that long straight snipe like bill a super bird. An Avocet was also on the pool from the reception building too and it was great to catch up with some great friends including Colin the former site manager here.

BMW Big Sky September 2016 1

RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands has a great track record for turning up rare waders.

As we were here we decided to have a walk around the reserve and check out the newly opened hide that overlooks the lagoons at the far end of the reserve. A really great hide and we had super views of more Black-tailed Godwits and beautiful Lapwings feeding in the hot sunshine. After our picnic lunch we headed into the hills of Cheshire and our hotel. It was lovely to have a House Martin nest complete with young right outside our bedroom window which also enjoyed spectacular views back to Wales.

Corn Bunting April 2016 1

The fat bird of the barley also known as Corn Bunting very rare birds in Wales these days.

The following morning we explored an area right on the England – Wales border and after a bit of a search we found the birds we were looking for – Corn Buntings. These wonderful “fat birds of the barley” as one of their old names call them are just about extinct in Wales so we were thrilled to see them just inside the Welsh border! Even better we watched two juvenile Corn Buntings begging for food from an adult so breeding successfully here. These big buntings were certainly living up to their country name as they were in an area of barley fields and often singing from the telegraph wires above the crops. The Corn Bunting has a brilliant song often described in the books as sounding like “a bunch of metal keys being jangled” hmmm well maybe! But however it is described it was wonderful to hear that song in Wales after so many years without hearing it, hopefully barley will continue to be grown here and these wonderful birds can hang on in Wales.

We then visited Beeston Castle, near our hotel, a place Ruth was keen to see but sadly the heavens opened as we got near and by the time we reached the car park it was torrential rain! No point in going around the castle so we made plans to come back in the morning before heading home for Wales.

In the evening we enjoyed dinner at the hotel and back at the room Alan checked his phone and was surprised to see a lot of WhatsApp messages waiting to be read, oh dear, what had been seen? Clicking on the messages gave a huge surprise – Pacific Golden Plover on Anglesey only the second record ever in Wales! It was now late and dark but the messages told how the bird had been found mid-evening by our friend Rhys’s son Morgan on the estuary at Malltraeth a superb find for the young birder. So now we crossed everything and hoped that the bird would stay as we were heading back to Wales the next day.

Next morning the news was good the Pacific Golden Plover was still in situ on the Cefni Estuary at Malltraeth and we hoped it would remain there all day as we had a castle to see! Beeston Castle was pretty impressive especially the views from the top – a huge vista with a 360 degree view wonderful. Back at the car we set course for Malltraeth on Anglesey and made pretty good time despite slow traffic in places. Just as we were about two miles away from the bird that dreaded message arrived “Pacific Golden Plover flew off high to the east” oh no, so close!

The Cefni Estuary is a big place to look for one lone wader but we were up for the challenge!

We arrived at the estuary to see our friend Alex who had watched the rarity depart and had lost it as a tiny dot still flying away east. It didn’t look good at all. It was also blowing a gale not helping looking for waders or our mood. We had a look at where the bird had been, now covered by the high tide, but no sign of it. We decided to check nearby RSPB Cors Ddyga east of Malltraeth just in case the rarity had dropped down there, good wader habitat, but no sign sadly and no reports from anyone else. What to do? Well we could have gone home but decided to wait for the tide to drop and hope the plover might return to feed again in the same area where it was found. We waited and eventually the tide began to drop, joined by a few other birders we walked along the embankment that separates the Cefni Estuary from the pools just inland and scanned the marsh as it was revealed by the falling tide. Curlews flew in and landed and one Whimbrel amongst them but no sign of the Pacific Golden Plover. We walked and scanned, stood and scanned, walked scanned stood but all to no avail. We decided we had missed the bird and were just about to trudge back to the car when Alan spotted a lone wader back towards the Malltraeth end of the cob, where we had walked from, could it be? Grabbing the scope the wader turned into THE wader – adult summer Pacific Golden Plover – yes! We shouted to the other birders and hurried to get closer to this amazing mega rare wader. But no sign of the bird, we could not believe this three of us had seen it before we moved closer but now no-one could see it! What was going on? We all scanned the saltmarsh right in front of us but no plover then Ruth spotted it whew! The rarity had been stood still behind a clump of vegetation and was now out in the open giving fantastic views and what a beautiful bird. We soaked up the views and shared the moment with the other birders and a lady dog walker that almost flushed the plover thankfully she heeded our shouts and then came over and saw the bird. The Pacific Golden Plover fed in typical plover style walk, stop, walk, stop, then grab a worm and some very big worms too. Such a wonderful sight after the four hour search for the bird somehow it is always sweeter when you have worked hard to see a bird.

Well worth waiting for what a stunning bird - Pacific Golden Plover.

Enjoying the Pacific Golden Plover as storm clouds gather a wonderful evening!

What a fantastic month July 2021 has been for us so many amazing birds shared with so many lovely people! To think some people say July is not a good month for birding well nobody told this July!

Of course a wonderful way to see more birds is to join one of our Birdwatching Trips and learn a lot about the birds you are enjoying too. We have tours suitable for all from beginners to experienced birders that are seeking particular species. Just drop us a line here and we can arrange a perfect custom tour for you!


We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds with you soon.

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