North Wales Coast – 20th January 2019 – Report by Sue Brealey
A group of 6 people braved the journey to Llanfairfechan, through very foggy conditions, wondering if it would be a matter of maybe turning straight back for home. However, having arrived at the sea promenade the skies had cleared, and given time, although cold at about 4⁰C, Puffin Island was clearly visible, the seas a bit choppy and at one point the sun came out. It made for a good sea watch. The high tide had arrived about 5 or 10 minutes before arrival so the sea was up to the sea defences.
One of the first birds spotted was a Red breasted Merganser (female) who was diving for food quite close to the shore. Looking out to sea, there were plenty of Black headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, and then some Eider were spotted as well as Common Scoter. There were also plenty of Great crested Grebes, along with a few Red throated Divers. As the seas retreated, it encouraged waders to start flying by in moderate numbers including Ringed Plover, Turnstones and Dunlin. The Turnstones landed close to the group of a bit of shingle, and later the Dunlin & Ringed Plover were noted along the coastline. Then a very large flock of Wigeon flew past going towards Anglesey. At the Pond near the promenade, Mute Swan, Mallard and Jackdaw were noted. A couple of Curlew flew past. A search of the river flowing down to sea did not produce the hoped for Dipper.
As it was felt that the sea watch was not going to give up any other species, the group moved onto Morfa Madryn. After the walk across the railway, the group stopped near the first of the lagoons, which by this time had emptied quite a bit as the tide retreated. Here a rather smart Grey Wagtail was noted, as well as Little Egret, and some Goosander feeding in the lagoon. However at the entrance there were flocks of Oystercatcher on a shingle area, with plenty of Redshank feeding as well as a couple of Greenshank. Curlew were seen on the mudflats, with more oystercatcher. The group arrived at the first hide, where their picnics were consumed, while enjoying the birds who were feeding on the mudflats. A visit to another hide, produced the flock of Wigeon, which had been seen previously, but now were out feeding on the fields near the hide. A couple of Little Grebe were added to the list, along with a flock of Lapwing, and a Shelduck. A scan of the fields behind the hide added a Buzzard and some Starling to the list. Returning to the car, Magpie were seen.
At this point the group moved on to RSPB Conwy. On walking from the reception centre/shop, House Sparrows were noted in the bushes, and later Blue Tit & Robin were noted. Having had a well-earned hot coffee at the café the group moved out to the Taf-y-fan hide, which overlooks both lagoons. From here Mallard, Gadwall, in good numbers were seen as well as Coot & Moorhen. On one island a Grey Heron was seen, and it very rarely moved at all! About five Black tailed Godwit were seen, as well as a Goldeneye, a few Teal and some Snipe. There was a large flock of Lapwing, as well as one Great crested Grebe and little Grebe, Mute Swan, Redshank, Shoveler Oystercatcher, Tufted Duck and Wigeon. After leaving the hide, one of the party briefly saw a Great Tit, Cetti’s Warbler and Goldcrest. The rest of the group stayed in the area in the hope of seeing the Cetti’s and Goldcrest, but although a very brief view of the Goldcrest was seen these birds preferred to stay low in the bushes as the weather was starting to get colder as dusk was approaching. A short visit to the Cameddau Hide didn’t add much else to the list, but the view over the Welsh Hills, some with smatterings of snow on their tops was very restful. As the group returned towards the reception for the drive home, large numbers of Starlings started to group up for a murmuration. However the weather was starting to spot with rain, and although there were plenty of Starling, maybe an estimation of 20,000, they had a tendency to drop into the reed beds very quickly, so the display was not of the best, but thoroughly enjoyed by all who watched it. It was definitely a lovely ending to the day which had started off so inauspiciously. Approximately 43 species were seen.
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