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Gulls galore – a great birding day on Anglesey

We started the day at a very civilised 9.30am as our clients had driven up from Suffolk the day before and an early start was not required. Just minutes after jumping in the “bird mobile” we were watching a huge third winter Glaucous Gull just north of Menai Bridge on Anglesey. This powerful gull was feeding in a field that had been sprayed with slurry – or something else evil! Remarkably the Glaucous Gull was on its own, and the views were brilliant.

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Third winter Glaucous Gull, near Menai Bridge, photo by Steve Culley

A short drive north and we arrived at Traeth Lligwy on the east coast of Anglesey. The tide was out and at first glance it looked pretty bird-less. We set up the scopes and scanned the calm sea, the cold wind was offshore! We quickly found plenty of birds. Gannets were passing offshore, Cormorants and Shags were on the rocks, Great Crested Grebes and Red-breasted Mergansers were diving in the bay. Kittiwakes were dip-feeding over the surface and both Razorbills and Guillemots fed just offshore. A single breeding-plumaged Black Guillemot was further out in the bay.
Then a small gull appeared with the Kittiwakes feeding just beyond the breakers, an adult Bonaparte’s Gull! This lovely delicate gull picked food from the surface of the sea and worked back and forth across the bay giving great scope views. A lifer for our clients so there were huge smiles all round! After feeding for some time, the gull came to the beach to bathe in the stream outfall and it was great to see it alongside other gulls for comparison, a tiny gull with delicate black bill and bubble-gum pink legs, cracking!

Bonapartes Gull Ste

Adult Bonaparte's Gull, Traeth Lligwy, photo by Steve Culley

At Cemlyn Lagoon, on the north coast of Anglesey, we scanned the lagoon and islands and quickly logged some great birds. A flock of beautiful Golden Plover roosted on the islands where Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Dunlin and Turnstone all fed. We also watched Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser and Shelduck on the water. A “gawk, gawk” call announced the arrival of a stunning breeding-plumaged adult Mediterranean Gull. The striking bird flew low over the islands and then landed amongst the Black-headed Gulls. More calls drew our attention as two Lapland Buntings flew over! These chunky Scandinavian visitors dropped down into a nearby field and we hurried after them. But the buntings were restless and flew up again and headed for a distant field where they were lost to view. Our last bird at Cemlyn was a breeding-plumaged Little Egret right by the road, until the magic word 'camera' was mentioned, then if was off!
Beddmanarch Bay next where we enjoyed our picnic lunch despite the chill wind. Out in the bay a Slavonian Grebe showed well with more Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye. Pale-bellied Brent Geese were on the far shore and tight flocks of Knot wheeled over the water.
Then on to Holyhead and we quickly found the hoped for Black Guillemots and all in smart breeding plumage. One bird in particular really showed off just a few yards away as it dived and surfaced with a wriggling butterfish in its bill. Further out we found three divers, a Great Northern and two Red-throated. One of the Red-throated was in breeding plumage, the other in winter - quite a contrast. We had all three divers in the same scope view at times, brilliant.
Up at RSPB South Stack the sun finally broke through and we enjoyed the breathtaking views of the towering sea cliffs. Loud calls had us looking up as two magnificent Chough swept in. These amazing red-billed corvids landed very close and the views were just stunning in the sunshine. Chough are such wonderful birds and these views allowed us plenty of time to enjoy them. A pair of Stonechats popped up on a heather slope,it was great to see that these birds had survived the bitter winter. Fulmars flew back and forth to the sheer cliffs and a raft of Kittiwakes bobbed on the sea below. Ravens patrolled the skies above giving wonderful eye-level looks at these massive crows.

South Stack birding

Birding at South Stack in the sun!

Time for afternoon tea and we enjoyed a welcome cuppa and some delicious chocolate cake at Four Mile Bridge cafe. We then headed south down to Malltraeth in the rain, but still enjoyed views of a Spotted Redshank feeding in the river channel and our first Wigeon of the day. The pool in Newbrough Forest held plenty of Gadwall and we also added Goldcrest and Coal Tit to the list as the light faded.
All in all, it was a great day's birding and we enjoyed some wonderful species, with stunning views of all the key birds.
Why not join us for great birding? We run trips throughout the year, just email us for details on We look forward to enjoying more brilliant birds with you!

We offer set departure tours and custom tours throughout the year to suit you. Here are some ideas to whet your appetite, but if the dates don't suit you, just let us know and we can put together a great trip just for you!

Anglesey tour

3 April 2011
Whole day exploring the very best birding sites on the island. Our route will be dependent on the latest bird news and we will visit a wide variety of habitats. Expect to see over 80 species!
40 pounds per person

Morfa Bychan and Porthmadog

27 March 2011
This wonderful area has birds galore: wintering wildfowl, waders, gulls and raptors, so we will look for all these and more. The area has the happy knack of turning up scarce and rare birds so who knows what we might find!
40 pounds per person Sorry, this trip is now fully booked but if you are particularly interested in this trip, we would be happy to arrange a second date to suit you.

The best of North Wales birding

29 March 2011 – only one space left on this date
A day out touring North Wales for the best birds around at this time of year, including searching for the elusive Hawfinch. We have an excellent track record with this charismatic but tough species!
40 pounds per person

Black Grouse lekking

13 April 2011 – only two spaces left on this date
20 April 2011
A very early start to visit a wonderful upland area and witness the spectacular dawn lek of Black Grouse, a truly amazing sight. The area also holds raptors, Crossbill, Dipper and migrants. This scenic area never fails to amaze.
55 pounds per person, including cooked breakfast!

Warblers Galore!

3 May 2011
Learn more about the 11 species of warbler found in North Wales.
40 pounds per person

North Wales Spring Special

18 May 2011
Our principal target species will be the wonderful birds found in North Wales at this time of year. We will be searching for Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Wood Warbler, Goshawk, Hen Harrier and Red Kite as well as any other species available at this wonderful time of year.
40 pounds per person

Northumberland’s bird islands

9 – 12 June 2011
A chance to visit the bird-rich, wild coast of Northumberland with seabird cities and some late migrants. The highlight of the trip will be a day out on the magical Farne Islands where we walk amongst Puffins and thousands of other seabirds allowing fantastic photo opportunities. We also visit the beautiful island of Lindisfarne or Holy Island, where we look for migrants and waders in picturesque surroundings. We will also call in at the RSPB Saltholme reserve which is proving a real draw for amazing birds!
495 pounds per person based on six participants, including boat trip and landing fees

Norfolk – the best of birding!

17 – 19 June 2011
Norfolk has an amazing list of birds and we will see as many as possible! Breeding birds will be the main focus and we hope to find Montagu’s Harrier, Stone Curlew, Golden Oriole and Wood Lark. We will also search out any rarities in the area.
295 pounds per person, based on six participants.

All day tours include 8 hours guided birdwatching, transport in the ‘Birdmobile’, use of optics and field guide, day checklist, attentive customer care throughout. Prices exclude food and refreshment, please bring a packed lunch, snacks and drinks and any items of a personal nature. If you have any special requirements or requests, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our aim is to make your birdwatching day special for you.

For more details, or to book your place on any of the above set departure tours or to arrange a custom tour, available throughout the year to suit you, email us on or call Alan on 07778 677141.

We look forward to enjoying great birds with you!
Best wishes
Alan and Ruth


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