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Short on ears but lots of birds!

First we took a quick look down the Conwy valley just in case any Hawfinches were up and about in the dawn light. No, they were still in bed! But a pair of Goosander showed off on the river and we got our day list off to a good start.

Llanfairfechan, and the sea was calm as the sun lit up the foreshore. Gangs of noisy Oystercatchers fed as the tide pushed them closer, Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit amongst them. Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes rode the rising tide, Razorbills dived as two Gannets cruised past.

On to Anglesey and we headed for Llyn Coron. We couldn’t resist a quick stop at Malltraeth cob pool to admire beautiful Pintail in the morning sun. A Spotted Redshank strode through a flock of sleeping Lapwing.

Happy Birders Llyn Penrhyn

Happy birders in the Anglesey sunshine

At Llyn Coron we quickly found nine European White-fronted Geese feeding with a flock of Canada Geese in a lakeside field. Wildfowl were all over the lake and the sunshine really showed them off, Goldeneye, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Wigeon and Teal. Wonderful!

A flock of Greylag Geese were having their morning bathe in the shallows and amongst them we found the three Bean Geese we had been hoping would still be here. Great.

A commotion amongst a group of gulls over a reedbed had us scanning in that direction, as an Otter was swimming across the lake making for the reeds!

A Water Rail flew from the near shore of the lake and four Common Snipe dropped in, then Pete spotted a Green Sandpiper on some rocks! It was difficult to keep up with so many wonderful things to look at!

Llyn Penrhyn next and we soon found the Red-necked Grebe. This rare bird swam out from the wall of reeds and then preened right in front of us on the glass-like water in the sunshine. Through the Leica scope we could admire every detail; it was stunning. Shoveler were plentiful here and we heard a Cetti’s Warbler's explosive song from deep in the reeds as Skylarks flew above.

Red necked Grebe Pen 2

Red-necked Grebe swims out from the reeds at Llyn Penrhyn

Red Necked Grebe Pen 1

Great views of Red-necked Grebe

Beddmanarch Bay produced some unexpected species with Eider, Common Scoter and Greenshank all being seen, but no sign of the hoped-for Mediterranean Gull, but a hot chocolate was enjoyed as we scanned the bay. Then, as we drove out of the car park we saw the adult Mediterranean Gull on the shore just a few yards from the car, what a brilliant view of this cracking gull. A flash of orange and blue and Kingfisher was on the list!

Holyhead Harbour next where we found a Purple Sandpiper roosting with Redshanks and added Turnstone and Shag to our fast-growing day list.

At South Stack, Chough and Stonechat were both seen immediately as we stepped from the car; this was great stuff, we were off again!

On the Inland Sea we watched two Scaup loafing about on the blue water, thanks to Ken Croft for the tip-off. Shelduck was new for the day and we watched gangs of Red-breasted Mergansers and Great Crested Grebes, while at least 14 Little Egrets were roosting around the water.

We popped back to Beddmanarch Bay and timed it perfectly as the tide was just dropping. A flock of Pale-bellied Brent Geese flew straight in and landed right next to us, giving us amazing views in the sunshine! The geese were quickly joined by waders keen to feed on the exposing mud. Bat-tailed Godwits, Curlew, Oystercatchers, Redshank and Turnstone all fed just yards away and the views were brilliant.

With the afternoon slipping by way too fast, we wanted this day to just go on and on. Next, we headed south for Aberffraw. Pete had asked about Short-eared Owl, and as we had seen one on Sunday we returned to the same area. After a few minutes we saw a Short-eared Owl floating over the grassland! To our amazement a second bird rose and attacked the first!

We bombed down the road to get closer to the action stopping just yards from the battling owls. What an amazing thing to see so close. As the owls broke away a little “pishing” caught the attention of one and it flew straight at the car! As the owl came close it barked a gruff call and dive bombed us! It repeated this three times coming within ten feet of us, giving us mind-blowing views of the spectacular bird. We were left stunned and thrilled by the close encounter.

LLyn Coron Short Eared Owl

Same site, same owl?

The bridge at Malltraeth gave us great views of waders including Ringed Plover, new for the day. We took a quick look at Malltraeth marsh and were very lucky to see a female Marsh Harrier hunting over the fields. We also enjoyed scope views of a gang of Fieldfares and saw a Grey Wagtail in the river channel.

We hurried back to the Cefni estuary with the sky turning red to the west. The pine trees here gave a flurry of new birds with Goldcrest, Coal Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker. We stood and watched the sunset overlooking the saltmarsh and mudflats. Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Knot, Little Egrets and Shelduck all fed as the light began to fade. Ravens cronked and croaked as they headed for the trees to roost. Then a Short-eared Owl rose and slowed flapped back and forth over the marsh, even mobbing a Buzzard at one point. It was great to finish the day with another view of this wonderful bird. Sure, Bean Geese and Red-necked Grebe are much rarer but in our minds there was no doubt, Short-eared Owl was bird of the day. Magnificent!

Cefni Estuary sunset

Sunset over the Cefni Estuary

We finished the day with 98 species but it was all about enjoying great birds in wonderful places and of course those owls.

Why not join us soon for great birds and great fun? We offer trips all year round and can tailormake days out to suit you. Do drop us a line or give us a call and we can enjoy wonderful birdwatching together.

Email or call Alan on 07778 677141. We look forward to hearing from you!


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