ALL DAY VISIT TO ANGLESEY – RSPB SOUTH STACK – HOLYHEAD HARBOUR – PENRHOS COUNYTRY PARK – CEMLYN BAY
WEATHER; cloudy to start then all day sunshine, a brisk breeze all day. Top temp 19C
I love to visit the island of Anglesey, not for its beauty but for its nature reserves, there are so many, and its bird life is outstanding. We took an earlier breakfast and set off at 8:30 and our arrival at a very windy South Stack was just over an hour later. We stopped on the entrance road to watch two Red-billed Chough that obliged us with their presence in a field, feeding very close to the road, wonderful.
South Stack from the viewing point below the cafe.
The wind was north easterly, in our back as we stood on the edge of the cliffs watching the spectacular number of sea-birds dashing about below us. The noise was still very loud despite the wind carrying it away out to sea and as we were standing down below a ridge we were quite sheltered and could also feel the warmth of the sun on our backs.
I would guess that 70% of the birds in view were Guillemots, then Razorbills, Puffins, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls and Jackdaws made up the rest. We spent an hour just watching the antics of the crowds of birds as they jostled for position when they landed on a ledge.
We noted that only the gulls were feeding chicks and most of the auks were sitting on eggs, a Great Black-backed Gulls flew into the Guillemot crowds and stole an egg and proceeded to eat, the parents looked on but could not do anything about it.
Great Black-backed Gull eating a Guillemot's egg
Walking up the hill to the pathway that leads down to the lighthouse we saw Rock Pipit, Linnet and several Northern Wheatears, two more Red-billed Chough drifted along the cliffs, dancing on the up-lift of the winds as they went and making their distinctive call.
From the steep steps down to the lighthouse we had much better views of Puffin and it was sheltered from the wind. We scoped the sea for feeding activity and found many Gannets out there as well as a steady stream of Manx Shearwaters flying past.
The car parks were over-flowing and parking was becoming chaotic, the grass verge disappeared, it was time to go! We dragged ourselves away and drove into Holyhead to visit the ‘fishing harbour’ where hopefully we would find Black Guillemots.
record shot of the Black Guillemot
Only one ‘Tystie’ was found and it was fairly far off on the other side of the arbour below the wall, we noticed a nest box was not far away and presumed the birds were using that. Oystercatchers were the only other species seen.
We then went to a supermarket to buy lunch and grab a coffee. We ate our picnic at Penrhos Country Park which was also very busy with tourists, we found some shelter from the wind behind the bushes. A few butterflies were on the wing, mostly Small Whites but a few Common Blues too.
Out in the estuary we saw Curlew, Little Egret, Common Shelduck and a few Common Terns and the bushes provided shelter for Robins, Wrens and Chaffinches.
For the afternoon we visited Cemlyn Bay to look at the Tern colonies, boy was it windy out there. Once again we stood with the wind in our backs, but this time we had no shelter and it hard to stand still.
Despite the wind it was a lovely visit, the activity was both intense and constant, movement in every directions. Once again it was the gulls with chicks and the terns were still sitting on eggs or newly hatched chicks. We saw the usual Sandwich Terns, Common Terns and Arctic Terns, along with Black-headed and a couple of pairs of Mediterranean Gulls.
Looking into the klagoon where a couple of islands hold many tern nests
Common and Sandwich Terns, can you spot a couple of Med Gulls and a Black-headed Gull in the mix?
A surprise sighting was that of a pair of Avocets! We also saw Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Red-breasted Merganser, Greylag Geese, Mute Swans and Northern Wheatear, The flowers in full bloom brightened up the area.
To finish off the day we visited the famous Parys Mountain Copper Mine, I had often seen it in the distance but had never ventured there. Richard and Ian both ad local knowledge of it and so they became our guides. It was well worth the visit, a tremendous place, and the colours were amazing.
Parys Mountain Copper Mine
We got back to hotel at 6pm after a very pleasant drive through the valleys of Snowdonian what a beautiful place that is. Before we went down to dinner I spotted a Goosander from my hotel room as it dropped onto the river.