RIVER CONWY AT TREFRIW - RIVER (AFON) LLUGWY AT BETWS-Y-COED – CORS DDYGRA – MALLTRAETH COB – HALIFAX HARBOUR
WEATHER; it rained more or less all day, around 3pm it stopped. Very light breeze. Top temp 14C
It was raining when I looked out of the window at 6am, so I assumed that the group would not be going out for the pre-breakfast morning walk as arranged! I was wrong! All but one turned out and walked down to the river opposite the hotel and all of them saw Goosander once again!
They also saw quite few other species including Grey Heron, Little Egret, Common Shelduck, Common Pheasant, Common Swift, Bullfinch, Song Thrush and several other common species. When I arrived after breakfast I scanned the river from the hotel car park and saw two Common Sandpipers, a mixed flock of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Nuthatch on the feeders. As we loaded up the bus a Mistle Thrush flew over us.
Our plan for today was to visit areas on Anglesey that we had yet visited to look for marshland birds and waders, but first we planned a stop at the River in Betws-y-Coed. After parking near the main bridge in town we walked 50 yards to the river and immediately found our target bird the Dipper. This bird performed well giving us all ‘through the scope’ views, a Grey Wagtail made short visit too.
a Dipper on the River Llugwy at Betws-y-Coed.
Above us, a family party of Nuthatches passed through the trees and we could hear a Blackcap singing. A short walk produced excellent sightings of Goldcrest, one bird came very close to us. We saw a female Blackcap on the way back as well as quite a few common species.
Our drive through the rain up to Anglesey was slow and arduous, we stopped to buy lunch before arriving at Cors (Marsh) Ddygra. The rain was continuous but quite light and luckily there was no wind at all.
The marsh was very lively we saw lots of new species for the trip list including a few ducks such as Shoveler, Teal & Gadwall and both Canada & Greylag Geese. We also saw 5 Black-tailed Godwits, lots of Lapwings, a Common Snipe and a pair of Little Ringed Plovers. In the sedges and small shrubs we watched Reed Buntings, Common Stonechat, Linnets, Goldfinches, Meadow Pipits and plenty of Skylarks were up singing in the rain. We then heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling and spent a little time trying to see this very elusive species without luck.
birding in the rain at Cors Ddygra
From a bridge over a canal we added Mute Swan to the list and a Raven flew over us. We walked a couple of hundred meters alongside the canal hoping to find Reed and Sedge Warblers, we eventually had excellent views of the latter before we turned around and headed back. We were all lightly soaked by now and it was getting cold.
Our walk back produced sightings of Little Grebe, more Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings, Stonechats and to our great delight a male Marsh Harrier came into view, wow, what a striking bird.
From the marshes we drove 4 miles to Malltraeth on the southern coast where the River (Afon) Cefni flows into a Bay. A Couple of large Pools are sheltered from the sea by a long raised bank called the Cob. But, before we explored this area we sat in café and ate coffee/tea and home-made cake followed by our picnic lunch.
a view of the Estuary from the Cob
Our walk was very productive in the pools we saw a male Pintail and along the Cob we saw Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Linnets and Chaffinch. From our raised position we panoramic views of the estuary which was huge. The tide was coming in and many birds were feeding on the sand-flats.
Near the car park we saw Grey Heron, Little Egret, Mute Swan and Common Shelduck and further afield we picked several Curlews, dozens of Carrion Crows and we could see large flocks of small waders.
The rain eased off and eventually stopped at this point, the light improved a little and we enjoyed scope views of the waders. Hundreds of Dunlin were joined by dozens of Greater Ringed Plover and quite a few Sanderling. The sanderling we dressed in both summer and winter outfits which confused some of the group.
It was now 3pm, we wanted to drive into Holyhead for an attempt at seeing one of Anglesey’s top birds, the Black Guillemot. It took 30 minutes to get there, we drove to the small fishing harbour near the Ferry Port. After 10 minutes of scanning the water we found our target bird, a beautiful Black Guillemot, whoopee!! Everyone had scope views of this bird which did not seem to move from its position on the far side of the harbour.
Oystercatchers in the Harbour at Holyhead
Before we left we watched a pair of Oystercatchers playing ‘piggy-back’ whilst a menacing Great Black-backed Gull drifted over us. It was now just after 4pm so we called it a day as the rain stared again.
a record shot of the Black Guillemot
We all enjoyed our last evening meal at the hotel, a Sunday roast. The food at the hotel has been excellent, the rooms lovely and birding around the area superb. Tomorrow we depart but no before a bit of woodland birding down at Betws-y-Coed.