Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A foreigner on Anglesey!

No, I've not turned xenophobic - this is a write-up of a birding year so far by regular Anglesey visitor, Nigel Troup. I had the pleasure of meeting Nigel on one of his stays last year and thought I'd share his enthusiasm for his Anglesey birding trips with you now...

"I have managed only eight days on Anglesey so far in 2013, but these have been enough to chalk up 108 species - a few of them additions to the list of 143 that began with the Silver Bay chalet purchase on 1st June last year.  The year started with a Blackbird outside the front window, and had advanced to 82 species by the time that I left for Stockport on the afternoon of the 2nd.  The highlight of the early year was the morning of the second, when two first winter Eider Ducks were in the bay.  Better still, as I ate my breakfast on the veranda, a male Hen Harrier passed by along the edge of the conifer plantation: these brought up the magic century on my Silver Bay patch.  I had planned to do a 'foot it' list, but with the lack of available time, I chickened out and used my bike instead.  This proved to be a poor choice, as I picked up a puncture five miles from home and had problems with the tyre thereafter.  Nonetheless, I managed to pick up a few good birds on the first day, including Jack Snipe and Great Northern Diver on the Inland Sea (there were two in Beddmannach Bay the next day), Slavonian Grebe and Med Gull (Penrhos CP) , Gadwall (on a small pond near Valley), Guillemot and Black Guillemot (Holyhead Fish Quay), Greenshank (Alaw estuary), and Woodcock, flushed by Monty (the Westie) at Silver Bay.  Sticking to the car the next day, I added Purple Sandpiper and Kittiwake at Trearrdur Bay, and caught up with the long-staying Long-tailed Duck on Llyn Penrhyn.
We returned for the weekend of 16th and 17th February, and I drove across the island on the Saturday to find a much sunnier day than we were having on the east coast.  In Benllech Bay were small parties of Common Scoter (c30 in total) and about half a dozen Red-throated Divers.  Just down the coast at Red Wharf Bay, Fulmars had returned to a breeding site that I remember from childhood, and two Snow Buntings were on the small stony spit opposite the pub.  On Sunday, I saw my first Gannet of the year from Breakwater CP, where the Little Owl was also present.  A Peregrine hunted over Silver Bay, and Knot were in small numbers on the Inland Sea.
The weekend of 2nd / 3rd March took me to Malltraeth, where four Crossbills were in flight at the Newborough end, along with a couple of birds that are common at home, but harder on the island: Coal Tit and Jay.  As I got back to the car I picked up a Short-eared Owl flying low over the marsh towards Aberffraw.  It gained height when hassled by gulls before disappearing over the Cefni channel.  This felt like a bird passing through, rather than hunting.  The following day 11 Crossbills flew over Silver Bay in the morning, while I added a new Anglesey bird to my list in the afternoon: a Merlin, perched on a fence post overlooking the sea on the north side of the estuary.  A brief visit to South Stack found many auks back on the ledges, though no Puffin yet.
My latest visit was the weekend of 16th / 17th March.  I often drop in at the small tidal inlet at Tyddyn-y-Cob, near Valley, usually with little success, but on Saturday morning I managed two Black-tailed Godwit, a Redshank, a Little Egret, two Greenshank, a pair of Teal and a Little Grebe.  In the afternoon, I dipped on Black Redstart at Lynas, but a stop at Cemlyn brought great views of a Black-throated Diver on calm seas in the bay, plus a more distant Red-throated Diver.  Sunday dawned damp and chill, but Monty (Nigel's dog!) demanded the usual early start.  Just down the hill, by the boat yard, I came upon my first local patch Long-tailed Tits of the year, and with them was a superb Firecrest.  This was about 50 yards from where I found one in November - I wonder if it is the same bird.  A long walk over the headland, to Borthwen, produced three Chough.  In the afternoon, I took a brief walk, in poor weather, along the south eastern side of Llyn Cefni, where I found two more Anglesey rarities in the channel that runs parallel to the edge of the lake: Kingfisher and a pair of Goosander.  After a long barren spell, I also saw my third Water Rail of the weekend, following up on sightings at Cemlyn (swimming in open water like a duck) and on the road to Rhoscolyn (literally - I had to jam on the bike brakes), near Plas Iago.
This has been a promising start to the year - I just need some summer birds when I get back there for a 8 day stay on Friday.      

I hope you enjoyed Nigel's round up of his Anglesey birds so far this year - a welcome reminder of all the wonderful species to be seen here I'd say!


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