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Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
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Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch

With some great birds being seen over the weekend Alan decided to head out on Monday to try and catch up with some of them. Picking up Mike Duckham at the unearthly hour of 5.30am they headed for Anglesey. A Bonaparte’s Gull, a vagrant from North America, had been seen on Sunday at Traeth Dulas. Despite the fact this small delicate gull had only been seen very briefly the previous day they still decided to give it a shot, however long it was.
Arriving at the estuary it was still pitch black, it seemed the 5.30am start was a little too early! Mike pulled his hat down over his eyes and was sound asleep in seconds. Alan just waited for the dawn and prayed the gull might fly in despite the long odds.
At last a little light crept in from the east and Alan set up his scope and tried to peer into the dark, a lump on the mudflats transformed into a female Peregrine. This charismatic raptor stared back menacingly, a bird with attitude. Perhaps because of the raptors presence few other birds were on the estuary.
Mike woke up and joined the search but few gulls were about and it soon became clear the Bonaparte’s Gull was not here at dawn. Mike set off down the north shore of the estuary to see if he could find more gulls, Alan watched the river channel in case it dropped in to bath with a flock of Black-headed Gulls.
A disturbance in the loafing Curlews and the gulls announced the arrival of another Peregrine, this time a juvenile bird that swept across the sands scattering all before it.
Stomachs were rumbling and breakfast was calling. Still no sign of the gull. Another birder, Richard, arrived and promised to call if he saw the bird, so breakfast was on. Now all we had to do was find a café, of course we had help with this, Ruth’s book “Birds, Boots and Butties” the Anglesey edition, would tell us just where to eat. The best option looked like Menai Bridge, the plan was to head east for the Dee Estuary after their sustenance and if Richard should have more luck not too far to dash back to Traeth Dulas.
Well the café did the job; a full fry up hardly touched the sides, washed down by hot tea, thank you Ruth and “Birds, Boots and Butties”.
No call from Richard so the Dee Estuary called and the promise of Long-billed Dowitcher at Inner Marsh Farm RSPB. Arriving at the reserve they were greeted by our friend Julie Rodgers, volunteering here, and she gave them the good news that the two Long-billed Dowitchers were still here! One Long-billed Dowitcher would have been great; a very rare vagrant from across the pond, but the chance to see two together was amazing!
At the hide they found a space and squeezed in amongst the other birders, lifted bins and there were two Long-billed Dowitchers stood asleep amongst a flock of Lapwing. Switching to scopes the views were wonderful and frame filling, every detail in sharp focus. A Peregrine Falcon, third of the day, swept over the lagoon sending all the waders into a swirling mass of panicked wings! Luckily the falcon was soon gone and the waders dropped back onto the mud and viewing was resumed. The Long-billed Dowitchers were now awake and began feeding, snipe-like, probing the soft mud with their long straight bills. Somehow Mike managed to fall asleep while all this was going on! Must have been that 5.30am start catching up with him!
Very pleased with their views of the dowitchers Alan and Mike made room for others in the hide and headed back to the car. Site Manager Colin Wells and his partner Lynn were at the reception point and it was good to catch up them and see Julie again.We have just taken delivery of some copies of Alan’s book “Best Birdwatching Sites in North Wales” so if anyone out there still has not got their signed copy of this indispensable guide get in touch quick, we only have limited stock!!
28 September 2009 (dated as requested!)


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