Alan Davies and Ruth Miller have been birding all around the world, but they still love a tour close to their home in north Wales. Here they talk us through a tour of the Isle of Anglesey back in the summer, separated from the spectacular mainland by the Menai Strait and not short on wildlife.
“We met Graham, one of the guests joining us for this particular trip, at RSPB Conwy just before 8am so had time for a quick look at the adjacent Conwy Estuary before heading off west. Many little egrets were in view along with grey herons. Curlew and oystercatchers were feeding on the mudflats along with shelduck and a small group of teal – a good record for July here. We then picked up the remaining guests, Laura and Roger at Menai Bridge at 8.30am.
With all the group now collected we drove across Anglesey, our first stop was a shallow bay where we were quickly enjoying lots of birds. Alan picked out a Mediterranean gull and everyone had super views through the Leica APO Televid 65 and 82mm spotting scopes. We then realised that there were five Mediterranean gulls before us! We also enjoyed Arctic terns fishing, curlew and oystercatcher and a little egret flew over.
At RSPB South Stack we were treated to a seabird spectacle – thousands of birds coming and going from their cliff ledge homes, a real wow! Through the telescope we could really enjoy full details of the common guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and kittiwakes. Alan spotted a puffin on the sea just below us and again the high-powered Leica APO Televid 82 and 65mm spotting scopes allowed super views of this wonderful seabird.
Two chough swept along the cliffs, calling, wonderful birds and always a thrill to see. Offshore Manx shearwaters were passing along with small numbers of gannets. A welcome hot drink at the reserve café and then we were off again.
At nearby Holyhead we quickly found what we were looking for: black guillemots. We had amazing views of these lovely auks, their scarlet red legs showing nicely in the sunshine. We enjoyed birds both on the water and on the harbour wall.
Next, we visited a freshwater lake where we quickly added more species to our list. Tufted duck, pochard, gadwall and both greylag and Canada geese were on the lake. A male reed bunting showed off singing from the top of a reed. We also enjoyed singing skylarks here.
We had a delicious meal at the Black Lion pub, then drove north to Cemlyn Lagoon. On the way we picked out another Mediterranean gull in a grass field with other gulls. As always, the area around Cemlyn was alive with birds!
Thousands of Sandwich terns were on the islands in the lagoon. Among them we watched Arctic terns and a few common terns. It was great to have an opportunity to compare these species at close quarters, with the differences highlighted by the clear view through our Leica Ultravid 8 and 10×32 HD-Plus binoculars and APO Televid spotting scopes. Also on the lagoon we saw red-breasted mergansers, shelduck, and numerous black-headed gulls with well-grown chicks.
We walked out to the headland where we watched Manx shearwaters passing, some nice and close, and more gannets. We also had a good view of common sandpiper on the rocks, along with plenty of Atlantic grey seals.
After that, there was time for one more site. We visited a marsh where we had fantastic views of lapwing, a curlew with a well-grown chick, and, most excitingly a male marsh harrier! What a super way to end a bird filled day.
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