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A day of birding and surprises on Anglesey

To make a change, we thought we'd have a guest blogger today: Anne aka localhero01, joined us with her husband Alan for a day of birdwatching on Anglesey. Anne has very kindly agreed to allow us to use her words to tell the story of a truly memorable day!

Posted on November 13, 2011 by localheroblog

"An early start today, up before it was light to set off to meet Alan Davies and Ruth Miller (of The Biggest Twitch) for a day of guided birdwatching on Anglesey. We had been birding with them before, and were expecting a great day, but none of us were prepared for just how great it turned out to be….

We met up with Alan and Ruth at RSPB Conwy and set off at 8 a.m. towards Anglesey. On the way, we stopped off at Llanfairfechan for a scout around the beach and river. The first bird we spotted on the sea was a Red-throated Diver, a first for us! There were many Oystercatchers, Cormorants and a Shag along the shoreline, with some Redshank scuttling along the water's edge. Alan spotted a group of Knot among the waders, and a lovely little Rock Pipit on the stones. Further along, we came to a bridge across the river. From the bridge, we saw a pair of Dippers displaying to each other, the male singing loudly with his head thrown right back, showing off his white chest – a really magical moment and quite unexpected for November!

Mediterranean Gull Beddmanarch Bay

Mediterranean Gull - found just minutes after Alan and Anne had asked us about identifying this particular species!

We carried on to Anglesey itself. Just before going to Cemlyn we stopped near Penrhos to admire a group of gulls, and saw a Mediterranean Gull among the Black-headed Gulls – very close to the car. A Mistle Thrush sat in good view at the top of a nearby tree, and a Kestrel was hovering over the far end of the car park. At Cemlyn there were many gulls feeding far out to sea amongst the very choppy waves. A Gannet flew past (one of my favourite sea birds) and – another first for us – a Little Gull flitted past, showing its wing markings beautifully. Turnstones were busy amongst the pebbles close by.

Cemlyn Seawatch

Watching Little Gull flying over the breaking waves just offshore

Turnstone Cemlyn

Turnstones, doing just what it says on the tin!

Turnstone Holyhead

We called in at Holyhead harbour where we caught up with Black Guillemot, and photographed this Turnstone who'd decided to go up-market in his stone-turning!

After stopping for lunch and a welcome cuppa at RSPB South Stack, we made a quick stop at the Inland Sea where we found a Scaup, a good local bird. We then went along to the lagoons by RAF Valley.

Birding Llyn Penrhyn

Checking in all directions for wildfowl and grebes!

We were contentedly watching the water birds there, including Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, and Pochard, when Alan excitedly announced that he had seen a Red-necked Grebe – a very rare sight in North Wales! We all got a good view of this lovely bird, as Alan got on his phone to let others know of the bird's presence!

Llyn Penrhyn Red necked Grebe 3

Red-necked Grebe in habitat!

Llyn Penrhyn Red necked Grebe 1

The Red-necked Grebe showed off long enough for us to get some digiscoped images

From here we moved on to Llyn Coron, a very quiet and beautiful spot. We had spotted a group of Greylag Geese… then another exclamation from Alan – he had seen three Taiga Bean Geese! This was very exciting, birds that even Alan had never seen in Wales before! Another real ”twitch” moment for us, as Alan got back on his phone! We were soon joined by other birdwatchers eager to see these rarities.

Llyn Coron Bean Geese 1

Poor light and long distance, that's our excuse and we're sticking to it!

Llyn Coron Bean Geese 2

Family of Taiga Bean Geese - one adult and two juveniles

A pair of Green Sandpipers (another good bird for North Wales) and some European White-fronted Geese joined the throng of birds, much to everyone’s delight – then we heard rustling noises coming from the foliage on the near bank. A man was walking his dogs along the lake shore. Ruth wondered aloud if the dogs would flush any interesting birds out of the cover… and (as if by magic…) a Bittern flew out! This was a brilliant bird for me, I have always wanted to see one! Elated by the wealth of birds, and with the light beginning to fade, we decided to move on to Malltraeth – little suspecting that things were about to get even better….

We had only gone a short way along the road when Ruth shouted “Stop!” – and we all got the most spectacular view of a magnificent Short-eared Owl. It flew low across the landscape and then perched on a shrub not far from the car, and posed beautifully for a while. Our very first sighting of a wild owl. Wonderful!

LLyn Coron Short Eared Owl

Short-eared Owl stares haughtily back at us as we gaze at it in admiration

At Malltraeth there were plenty of waders along the river bank, including a Spotted Redshank and Ringed, Grey and Golden Plover. We crossed the road to the other side of the bridge – and were rewarded with a lovely view of a Kingfisher flitting back and forth along the bank, distant but clear through the scope. Another bird that I have always wanted to see!

Malltraeth dusk

Arty moment over the Cefni estuary at Malltraeth

In the dusk, we moved a little further down the road for one final scout along the salt marsh near Malltraeth – and we were treated to an instant view of a male Hen Harrier hunting low over the marshes! A wonderful end to an unbelievable day of birding!

Many many thanks to Alan and Ruth – not only because without their expert knowledge and good eyes we would not have spotted most of today's birds! – but also for their great company. We had the best day – 90 species spotted altogether.

Their guided birding tours are very highly recommended! You never know what you might see!"

Many thanks to Anne (and Alan), not only for this wonderful blog but also for their great company during the day, and we looking forward to birdwatching again with them in the near future!

If you'd like to join us for similar wonderful birdwatching, simply email us on and we can arrange a day out to suit you. Anne and Alan's day was a custom tour arranged on a date that suited them exploring parts of North Wales that they'd always wanted to see.


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