Monday, 1 July 2013

Saturday 29th June - Anglesey

Following the excitement of the Suffolk trip on the 15th June, the following weekend (22nd June) we decided to stay in Staffs and work the local patches. However, we realised that it was finally mid-summer, and we didn't really see anything all day. We decided at the end of the day, that a trip was in order the following weekend.

And so to the 29th June. PJ suggested that Anglesey would be a good destination, as you can always have a fairly decent day here, even in mid-summer. We had a few birds to aim for, with the star attraction being a singing male COMMON ROSEFINCH. Unfortunately, unlike my only other British singing Rosefinch (at Giggleswick, North Yorks on 15th June 2002), this was a brown bird. Nevertheless, a singing Rosefinch whatever the appearance, is a bird you shouldn’t sneer at and dismiss. It's not a bird you see everyday after all.

PJ was unable to join us, but we did welcome back CJW following his recent slightly poorly spell. We paid a quick visit to Westport, then headed off up the M6 and M56, then onto the A55 and the road to North Wales.

As we were driving along, we received news of a ROSEATE TERN on the river in Rhyl. We were only about 20 mins away, and so we reset the sat nav and headed there. We had nothing to lose, it was only a short diversion, and it was one bird that we were hoping to see later on Anglesey.

We parked up by the Marine Lake on a totally deserted car park. We weren’t very optimistic at this point, but we did have five Sandwich Terns fly over our heads. We walked down the River Clwyd and soon found the bridge. There was no actual path underneath the bridge, but we still managed to get under it. On the sandbanks, I counted 140 Sandwich Terns, but on this first scan, I saw no other terns amongst them. I started to scan again, and immediately I found a small tern with a nice rosy breast. Unfortunately, it was a very tired bird (following its flight from…), but it did on occasions lift its head to show us its beak. And whenever a train went past, the whole flock was flushed. There are some very nice photo’s of the Roseate Tern on the North Wales Blog. A good start to the day then, and it meant we wouldn’t have to visit Cemlyn later.

The knackered Roseate Tern in Rhyl.

We drove onto Anglesey and headed straight up to Porth Eilian, the small village by Point Lynas. We parked up and a quick scan of the harbour revealed four Black Guillemots. We drove up to the lighthouse looking for somewhere to park, and had passed one birder standing by the cattle grid looking for the COMMON ROSEFINCH. As we had driven back down from the lighthouse though (having failed to find any spaces), I’d seen a larger group standing in the field. We walked straight up to the larger group. “Any sign?” We asked. “Yes” was the reply, “but its distant and not showing. “Oh, how long ago did it last sing?” I asked. “About a minute ago” was the reply. And sure enough, the Common Rosefinch started singing again, but it was way in the distance.

The party decided to go (I think it was an Alan Davies guided party) and we stood and listened to the distant, still singing Rosefinch. The footpath carried on, and so we followed it. We walked through two fields, but we stopped when the path started to swing away from the Rosefinch. We could hear it singing still, but we thought that it was down in a gully, and therefore we’d no chance of seeing it. Occasionally it appeared to sing louder, and then it suddenly sang very loudly. We looked up and there it was perched on the telegraph wires going over the field in full view. It was an excellent view, and one we thought we’d never have.

Nice crisply focussed shot of the singing Common Rosefinch

The picturesque Porth Eilian - you see twitching is more than just driving 3hrs to see a bird you can see abroad! It's about visiting places, seeing the world, having a good trip out, having something to look forward to at weekends.

Well, we had two out of two so far. We had a quick walk up to Point Lynas to check the area for CHOUGH, but we didn’t see any. That meant we had to drive over to South Stack next. I drove across Anglesey as the other two slept.

As we walked over towards Ellen’s Tower, CJW struck lucky by spotting another year tick – amazingly a Stonechat – unbelievable to think it’s the end of June before we’ve seen one. The cliffs were in full flow, with loads of Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar and Kittiwake. We managed to see about five Puffin, plus we were able to show a nice couple some Puffin on the cliff face. We also saw 50+ Manx Shearwater in a flock sitting on the sea just out from the lighthouse, plus Chough were flying along the cliff at regular intervals.

So, all the target birds were seen and by 13:30hrs, we were all done and dusted. Can't be bad!

This was taken at South Stack - a very large concentration of Guillemots on seemingly fairly level rocks - but not their usual type of cliff. Late comers? Failed breeders?