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Ospreys and Divers – a great day out!

We met Jane at Bangor then headed over to Caernarfon to pick up Rob and Lin at 9am. Arriving a little early only one thing to do, go birding! We checked the River Seiont below the spectacular castle and saw a Little Egret wading through the shallows. Two species were a surprise here, a Stock Dove was sitting in a tree above the river bank and a Blackcap was singing from scrub just behind us.

With Rob and Lin safely on board we headed south for Black Rock beach near Porthmadog. A gang of noisy Sandwich Terns were sat at the waters edge calling raucously; great to see them back from Africa. Offshore the visibility was poor but still birds were on show, two Red throated Divers bobbed on the waves, gangs of Common Scoters and Red breasted Mergansers were dotted across the bay.

Osprey project

A short drive took us to the Glaslyn Marshes and the RSPB Osprey project and our luck was in, both the pair of Ospreys was on the nest. The pair had recently returned from there winter quarters in West Africa and had already been seen mating and repairing the nest. Live TV pictures are beamed from the nest into the hide overlooking the nest tree. There was more than Ospreys here and we could see a flock of 13 Whooper Swans grazing in an adjacent field, they would soon be heading north to Iceland to breed. A Sand Martin swept past, the first of the spring at this site.

Train Porthmadog
The railway line runs right past the Osprey project, ideal for train spotters!

At Porthmadog we walked around Llyn Bach, a tidal pool next to the Cob embankment and always a great place to see birds up close. A flock of Teal were feeding in a channel and just beyond them a beautiful Black tailed Godwit, in brick red breeding plumage, probed the mud. Further along a ghostly Greenshank flew in and fed with a gang of Redshank, nice to compare the two species. A Little Egret was on the opposite side of the embankment where Shelduck showed off in the sunshine. Over the marshes a Peregrine stoops down on a flock of fleeing Teal and struck one of the ducks which fell into a channel out of sight. The falcon did not seem to know what to do, it flew back and forth low over the area, hovering, and then landing on the bank, repeatedly but we could see the Teal. Eventually the Peregrine seemed to loose interest and soared up over the marsh. As we watched the falcon gained height rapidly then went into a spectacular stoop, hurtling towards at breath taking speed! Just as it looked as though it would crash into the mud in front of us it pulled up and shot high above us, fantastic stuff! What a thrill to this awesome bird in action.

Birding Porthmadog

We had our picnic lunch at Borth-y-Gest over looking the Glaslyn Estuary, but two jet-skies were a pain and resulted in few birds on the water. A pair of Rock Pipits showed off just below us in the warm sunshine. Two Little Egrets were roosting on the far side of the estuary and Red breasted Mergansers were fishing in the rising tide waters.

Great northern Diver

A short drive north at we reached Pont Llyfni, west of Caernarfon. Offshore we quickly found two Goosanders which gave great views. Two Shags were fishing in the bay and then we found what we come for, Great northern Divers! A flock of the magnificent birds were swimming off to our left in a line looking very comical. The divers repeatedly looked behind as checking the flock was still in formation. The views in the telescopes were excellent of these scarce winter visitors, a real highlight of the day!

Next we headed east to Dinas Dinlle where the wet fields gave our day list a nice boost with some great birds. Lapwings danced in the air giving their wild display calls. A flock of some 150 Golden Plover were roosting in an area of rough grassland. Some of these beautiful waders were well advanced into their breeding plumage, showing jet black bellies. Three Wheatears were feeding in a ploughed area, including a striking male.

A hot drink at the nearby Café was very welcome and we were then ready for more birds.

Foryd Bay was our last call of the day and as always the site produced plenty of birds. Six Little Egrets roosted on a grassy spit by the river inflow. A single Pintail was on the salt marsh, two Goldeneye dived in the river channel. A gang of Brent Geese flew in and landed close to us and gave great views. Six Greenshank were dashing about in the shallows with Redshanks and Curlew. More Brent Geese flew across the bay and Red breasted Mergansers were in the channels.

Back to Caernarfon to finish a wonderful days birding mostly in lovely sunshine and with great views of brilliant birds.

Why not join us for great birds and great fun? Our next trip is Sunday 3rd April – a tour of Anglesey where we will look for Puffins, Black Guillemots, Chough and many more, expect to see about 80 species. Just £40 per person for a full eight hours birding, lots of other trips coming up for details email –


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