Mad Dash To Anglesey For A Very Elegant Bird Indeed 4 July 2021

Tern flock Cemlyn

The huge tern colony at Cemlyn Lagoon on Anglesey has an amazing list of rare tern to its name.

We had our day all planned out, Ruth was out early to have her second Covid-19 vaccination and I was off to the shops to get in the supplies for our mini-house-party for two in Yorkshire which begins tomorrow. Then a message from Mark Sutton at Cemlyn on Anglesey threw all plans into the air, a “yellow-billed Tern” was in the Sandwich Tern colony! Now there are various species of tern that come under the “yellow-billed” heading, all very rare indeed, Lesser Crested, Elegant and Royal. Whichever the Cemlyn bird was we wanted to see it. Plans changed and I picked up Ruth from the vaccination centre and we sped west towards Anglesey. Luckily the traffic was light; perhaps many tourists and day trippers were having a lie-in after the famous semi-final win by England in the Euros or perhaps celebrating American Independence Day? Either way we were very glad they were not clogging up the roads in front of us and as we drove news came through the bird was identified as an Elegant Tern extremely rare in the UK.

Our view over Cemlyn Lagoon today as we waited for a very special bird with one eye on the clock.

The car park at Cemlyn was pretty busy already and we could see a line of birders out on the shingle ridge overlooking the Sandwich Tern colony. We grabbed bins, scope and camera and hurried to join them hoping for a quick in and out visit as we had so much to do before heading off to Yorkshire in the morning. Reaching the line of birders it was bad news the Elegant Tern had not been seen for some forty minutes, oh no, not what we hoped to hear. We scanned the mass of Sandwich Terns on the island in front of us and were pleased to see so many juvenile birds amongst the thousands of adults but none had a long drooping yellow beak. Time was ticking past and we were very conscious of all the things we had planned to do before heading for Yorkshire in the morning. A beautiful adult Roseate Tern showed off really close amongst plenty of Arctic and Common Terns but still nothing Elegant looking.

An adult Roseate Tern at Cemlyn this morning, photo by Richard Evans who was stood with us.

Then our friend Rhys was shouting “got it!” he was looking the opposite way to everyone else and amazingly picked out the Elegant Tern flying over Cemlyn Bay – always good to look behind you! The tern swept over the bay towards the colony but was soon lost in the “traffic” above the nesting islands – so many birds in the air. But we had seen the Elegant Tern, whew.

More time ticked by and we really needed to head for home and began saying our good-byes to so many great friends when Derek spotted the rarity again over the bay and flying straight for the island. The Elegant Tern landed before most of us even realised it had been seen again but it was quickly relocated strutting about amongst the Sandwich Terns and raising that crazy long yellow bill to the sky! What a fantastic bird and so much better to see it on the ground where the telescope allowed every feather detail to be enjoyed. We took some rather poor photos and some video to remember this mega rarity by and then we really did have to leave. A really super bird to see and so lovely to catch up with so many of our birding friends after so long without seeing them during lockdown. Huge thanks to Mark Sutton for finding the bird and getting the news out so quickly and thanks to the North Wales Wildlife Trust wardens Mark and Ruth for making everyone so welcome.

What a mega bird to see only an hour from home - Elegant Tern taken by Ruth.

An Elegant Tern has a very long journey to reach Cemlyn Lagoon, Anglesey, Wales.

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 as soon.

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