The wind is cold, the rain is horizontal and I'm stuck indoors wondering, where are the hidden gems in the area, the overlooked, underwatched new hotspots and 'Birding Frontier' sites? My reply to the Traeth Harlech thread has really got me thinking about this subject.
Maybe it would be easier to list the small number of sites that are regularly watched and discuss the gaps!? Number one of course has to be Ynys Enlli/Bardsey Island with it's saturation coverage of very sharp resident and visiting birders, ringers and visitors weighed down by optics, radios and cameras. Then maybe Conwy RSPB, Holyhead area, Great Orme, Cemlyn, Malltraeth/Valley wetlands (?), the Traeth Lafan reserves (Aber Ogwen-Llanfairfechan) Porthmadog, Aberdaron etc...
Lleyn sites that I think have big potential are Pwllheli harbour (grossly under-watched but I'm trying to redress the balance), Cors Geirch (beautiful wild fen with small open water area but difficult access), Cilan (juts out well south with ponds on the top that look great for Buff-breasted Sandpiper etc) and of course, my local patch - the Aberdaron/Uwchmynydd area. There's so much habitat here that it's impossible to cover it all in a day (or even several), while I neglect my home village of Rhiw too often these days and prefer to head west!
Further afield Ystumllyn looks nice and Pontllyfni must get something other than rare gulls around the reedbed... and how often is Y Foryd scrutinised?
Obviously, the whole of Eryri is an ornithological black hole (although some dedicated survey workers are active over the region) and I won't even mention Meirionydd! One of my favourite winter birding memories was watching a Snow Bunting digging for food in the deep snow on YrWyddfa/Snowdon one January day - awesome views of tough little birds. How many winter on the tops? Have Dotterel ever tried breeding there again? Living in Llanrug for a few years saw me patching the usually birdless Llyn Padarn (and occasionally Llyn Peris) and turning up Black-throated' & Red-throated Divers and Red-necked Grebe, wintering Firecrests etc amongst other scarcities.
My knowledge of the Ynys Mon/Anglesey birding scene is dated but sites which I visited years ago (and are calling me back for another look) that seemed to be bursting with potential included Traeth Dulas/Lligwy Bay, Newborough and Penmon to name a few. Further east (here I'm even less familiar) the River Clywd looks superb - does it get regular coverage?
This blog seems to be read by many but the number of contributors seems to fluctuate widely! Don't be shy - I'd love to hear any comments/suggestions - who knows what's out there?