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Biggest Twitch
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A day on Anglesey

The day got off to a great start, just after meeting up with Roger and Ade, a Peregrine was hunting over the roof tops of Llandudno. This wonderful raptor powered over the town no doubt on the look out for a feral pigeon breakfast.

At Aber Ogwen North Wales Wildlife Trust reserve near Bangor it was a shock to see so much ice around the pool. Luckily some areas were still free of the grip of winter and amazing views of a Water Rail were enjoyed as this normally shy bird strutted about in the open. Two Great spotted Woodpeckers played hide and seek in the trees above.

The estuary here was busy with birds as the tide was high and many birds were close to the hide. A gang of Teal fed just a few meters away and a tight flock of waders were Redshank and Dunlin with a single Turnstone. On the opposite shore two Greenshank stepped through the shallows passing roosting Little Egrets.

On the open water a Goosander slept as Goldeneye dived and a Grey Seal put in a brief appearance.

At a nearby fast flowing river a Dipper showed off leaping into the icy water and bobbing back up to stand flexing its knees. Then the Dipper began collecting nest material, great beak fulls of green moss and taking it under an over hanging bank of the river. Great to know where the Dipper will be nesting this Spring.


Then it was on to the island of Anglesey, a little latter than hoped but some good birds already on the day list. First stop was the Cefni Reservoir but the majority of the lake was frozen. A small patch of water remained ice free and here the birds were crowded together. Wigeon, Gadwall, Pochard and Tufted Duck were all amongst many Coots and a pair of Mute Swans. A single Little Grebe repeatedly dived amongst the ducks. At Beddmanarch Bay the tide was perfect, just starting to drop, and birds were flying in to feed on the exposed mud. Pale bellied Brent Geese were paddling at the edge of the tide and very close. Dunlin and Ringed Plover were busy feeding just a few meters away as Turnstones bulldozed through the tide line seaweed. A first-winter Mediterranean Gull flew in and landed with a group of Black-headed Gulls nice to compare the two species.

Further out in the bay Red-breasted Mergansers and Goldeneye were feeding and a Slavonian Grebe popped up.

Back on the mudflats more birds were coming in to feed and Grey Plover, Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit were all watched. Then a single Black-tailed Godwit was picked out on the near shore and it was great to see it close to three Bar-tailed Godwits. Holyhead Harbour next and after a short search a handsome breeding plumaged Black Guillemot was seen near the harbour mouth. A beautiful bird in its smart jet black and white summer plumage. The harbour also held some 25 Red breasted Mergansers and a second Black Guillemot – this one moulting from winter to breeding plumage.

Black Guillemot

At South Stack RSPB reserve it was very cold but braving the winds it was a wonderful spectacle at the cliff top, despite being the last day of January the cliffs were packed with thousands of Guillemots! The noise was wonderful with the auks groaning and cooing, brilliant stuff. Fulmars were also on the cliffs and sweeping back and forth on their stiff wings.

Back at the car park two Chough were found in the sheltered corner of a small field and amazing views were had through the scope. Both birds were colour ringed and were busy digging away in the turf.


On the minor road towards Llyn Coron a Merlin was spotted sat on a fence post but was soon off dashing low over the fields. At the lake a fine drake Goosander showed off and a pack of Wigeon fed on the grass. Good numbers of Tufted Duck were joined by Pochard and Goldeneye. A large flock of Greylag Geese flew in and landed in nearby fields but many of the birds were hidden behind a small hill. By driving to the other side of the lake it was possible to see the geese even if a bit distant. Six European white-fronted Geese were picked out amongst the Greylags, great birds to see in North Wales!

At Malltraeth we scanned the river channel and quickly picked out a Spotted Redshank striding through the water and chasing off Redshank. A Little Egret was stood in the shallows and a Greenshank fed near the railway bridge. A second Spotted Redshank then appeared very usual to see two at one site on Anglesey in January. A Merlin sat on the low stonewall by the Cob Pool and amazing views were enjoyed of this diminutive raptor. The pool held dozens of gorgeous Pintail, the drakes surely one of the best looking ducks in the world?

Last site for the day was the Cefni Estuary where great views of feeding Knot and Grey Plover were enjoyed, but it was not waders we were looking for. Luckily, as it was so cold, our target bird soon showed up, a superb ringtail Hen Harrier floated over the marsh, just breath taking! The Hen Harrier really showed off and everyone had the chance to soak up frame filling scope views of this top draw bird.

A wonderful end to a fantastic days birding. Why not join us for the best in birding? Trips available throughout the year to suit you just drop us an email and we can enjoy wonderful birds together.


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