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Anglesey Birding Day

As 2010 draws to a close we headed out on the 30th for some birding on the Isle of Anglesey. It is only a short drive west from home, Llandudno, North Wales, and we crossed the Menai Straits on to Anglesey.


We drove north-west and soon arrived at Beddmanarch Bay, a shallow tidal area that is always alive with birds. The handy car-park gives wonderful views and we had just caught the tide right, rising nicely pushing the ranks of birds closer and closer. Waders were all over the shrinking mud-flats with head down scurrying gangs of Dunlin, dumpy Knot, stop start Ringed Plover and Grey Plover, a sprinkle of Bar-tailed Godwits amongst the numerous Redshank, Curlew and Oystercatchers. Pale bellied Brent Geese towered over the waders and we counted an impressive 199, sure there was one we must have missed?!

Out on the flat calm water of the bay a Slavonian Grebe dived for fish along with eight Great crested Grebes and a gang of spiky headed Red-breasted Mergansers. Handsome drake Goldeneye bobbed about and dived under for so long we thought them drowned, only to pop up again.

The woodland behind the car-park held a tit flock and we were very lucky to see a Marsh Tit amongst the gang of Blue and Great Tits. This individual had been reported several days earlier and is a real Anglesey rarity; the last Marsh Tit recorded on the island was over thirty years ago!

We then visited Holyhead harbour where two Razorbills and a handsome drake Red-breasted Merganser gave great views. Scanning over the adjacent bay we soon found two Black Guillemots in the pied winter dress. Further out both Great northern and Red throated Divers sat on the calm sea. Turnstones fed nearly at our feet on the quay wall.

From here we called in South Stack RSPB reserve where we were treated to amazing close-up views of a pair of Chough that fed in a small field right by the car, wonderful birds. Ravens “cronked” over head but no sign of any Stonechats, had they perished in the bitter cold over Christmas?

The Valley Wetlands RSPB reserve was next and it was good to see the lakes ice free. A good number of wildfowl were present, including seven Goosander, scarce on Anglesey. Four of these fine ducks were adult drakes and looked very smart in their salmon pink and green plumage. Water Rail squealed from the reeds, good to know they had survived the freeze.

Llyn Coron again gave us plenty of wildfowl with a flock of 450 Wigeon grazing a lake side field. Two more drake Goosander here and plenty of Goldeneye, Tufted Duck and Pochard.

At Malltraeth we scanned the wet fields opposite the Cob pool and were surprised to see two Whooper Swans feeding in the pools. Beautiful Pintail were also loafing around here and a Little Grebe popped in to view. Suddenly Ruth spotted a movement in the grass and a Stoat shot out! Even better he was mostly in ermine, the white winter coat of the stoat rarely seen in the UK, brilliant!

With the short winter day drawing to close we took position over looking the salt marsh on the adjacent Cefni Estuary and waited. We did not have long to wait, a ring-tailed Hen Harrier soon floated over the marsh right opposite us, breath taking. Luckily the raptor turned and treated us to another fly past. A Merlin then shot in to view and buzzed the harrier, wow! The Hen Harrier then dropped in and landed out of sight, just in front of two Little Egrets. Raven were constantly passing over head, giving an amazing variety of calls as they headed for their roost in the nearby forest. Then the Merlin was back zapping across the marsh, a second Merlin joined it briefly before breaking away. This was thrilling! The first Merlin was flying hard and fast, gaining height, hunting, we locked on to it and marvelled at this small raptors power and speed. Then we saw the falcon’s target, a Meadow Pipit, frantically flying ahead of the Merlin. The pipit dived, twisting and turning, the Merlin followed as though joined by an invisible thread. Then there were two Merlins both after the same poor pipit, the result was inevitable, the pipit was grabbed. The Merlins came together in a mid-air tussle and one broke away with the prize, impossible to say if it was the catcher or chaser that got the meal. We were stunned by the amazing aerobatics that we just witnessed, breath taking stuff.

Then the Hen Harrier was up again and gave more wonderful views quartering the marshes as a Merlin sat on a fence post and stared. With light all but gone we dragged ourselves away, what a great days birding!

Why not join us for the best in birding we have many days and tours planned for 2011 and we love to share great birds and wonderful places with you. Just drop us a line at for details, we look forward to hearing from you. Happy New Year!!


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