Monday, 11 April 2011

Saturday 9th April - North Wales

PJ suggested that we went on a trip, and as the week progressed, our attention turned towards North Wales, especially to Anglesey, where a PURPLE HERON was present. So armed with our target birds, we headed off at 05-30hrs. First stop was at World's End. We had fabulous view of lekking BLACK GROUSE along the road, but we decided to only have a brief look at these as there was a larger lek further down the road apparently. Unfortunately, we never found this, and so if you want to see any pictures of lekking Black Grouse, check out SURFBIRDS!

We spent about two hours here, seeing two male WHINCHATS, three male RING OUZELS and fly over CROSSBILLS. The star bird at this site took two hours to show, but when it finally show, it showed down to a few feet.

We then headed for Anglesey, but there was no news on the PURPLE HERON yet. We decided to head instead for the Great Orme where a DOTTEREL had been found earlier in the morning. Then we changed direction again when news came through on the wires of a BLACK SCOTER off the Rainbow Bridge. It took us ages to find how to get to the bridge, and by the time we walked to it, there was not a birder in sight. The SCOTER flock were swimming just off the wind turbines and picking out a BLACK SCOTER at this range was impossible. We did see several RED-THROATED DIVERS, GUILLEMOTS and two SANDWICH TERNS flew past.

By this time, the PURPLE HERON was showing, and so after wasting an hour on the SCOTER, we finally crossed over to Anglesey. We knew that we had to find a footpath opposite the church in Dwyran, down in the SW corner of Anglesey. No problem we thought. Churches are easy to find. What we didn't know was that it was a small Welsh chapel set back from the road, and it didn't have a steeple. We found it on our second drive past. We walked into the field, joined two birders already there and enjoyed good views of the PURPLE HERON as it fed in a small pool. The light was very good as we were looking directly into the sunlight, but I thoroughly enjoy watching my first Purple Heron for five years in Britain, and, more importantly, my first Welsh Purple Heron.

The pool at Dwyran

My first Purple Heron in Wales, and my first photographed one in Britain

Next stop was for the GLAUCOUS GULL near to Menai Bridge. We did find a field with quite a few large gulls in it, but there was no sign. After a brief discussion, we decided to head towards the Great Orme. Reports on the DOTTEREL were quite infrequent during the day, and so I was not expecting it to be still present. Following a small detour via the carpark at the top of the Orme (due to GAS's navigating and then admission that he didn't actually know where the Limestone Pavement was), we parked up a saw two birdwatchers standing, staring. PJ leapt out of the car and confirmed that the DOTTEREL was still present. It performed like a dream, and we were soon joined by fellow Westport Wanderer DK. The Orme was full of Clayheads on Tour!

Dotterel on Great Orme - another Welsh tick for me

DK exhausted after taking 7500 shots of the Dotterel