Ken does a round-up of Naturebites’ short-walks in January… a fantastic reminder (to me) of what we are able to show off in such a small space of time!
“Parking on the roadside opposite The Oystercatcher resturant in the outskirts of Rhosneigr we were greeted by the sight of a majestic Peregrine patrolling over the reed-bed. It was covering a small area of reeds, presumably where a bird it had been chasing had ditched down into cover? it was very reluctant to give up but eventually drifted off south. We didn’t have long to wait for our next exciting bird, as we made our way along I spotted a female Merlin perched on a ‘slow-down’ roadsign, Wow! what a start to our walk, two magnificent raptors and both close enough to see feather-detail rather than the usual distant view of a bird streaking through the sky.
Making our way along the boardwalk around Llyn Maelog a couple of Grey Herons rose from the reedbed and in a clearing in the reeds two Water Rails dashed back into cover and a couple of Snipe exploded up from the wet ground.
On the lake good numbers of diving duck were evident, mainly Pochard and Tufted Duck plus a few Goldeneye and a pair of Red-breasted Merganser. Dabblers included half a dozen Gadwall alongside Teal and Mallard. In the surrounding fields 300+ Golden Plover and a similar number of Lapwing with some Curlew and feeding Starlings.
After walking around the lake we had a look at the coast and amongst the more familiar Dunlin and Ringed Plover we saw 6 Purple Sandpipers on rocks with Turnstones plus Grey Plover and a single Sanderling. Meanwhile, offshore a Red-throated Diver, Red-breasted Mergansers, Cormorants and Shags.
Previous Naturebites walks earlier in January 2014 saw us at Malltraeth, where the highlights were a Peregrine out on a sandbank dispatching its latest capture. Stunning views of Pintail and Teal on the ‘Cob Pool’ along with a couple of Black-tailed Godwits. Something had been disturbing the large flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover and as we walked back towards the village all was revealed when a Merlin flashed by over our heads. Just below the road bridge a female Goosander gave us excellent views and we were able to compare it with a nearby female Red-breasted Merganser.
Our next walk was around the Penrhos Coastal Park and Beddmanarch Bay. Here we saw two wintering species which have made this location their most reliable site on Anglesey; Great Northern Diver and Slavonian Grebe. A group of 9 drake Goldeneye were displaying out in the bay with Black Guillemot and Razorbill close inshore and as the tide began to fall arriving waders included Bar-tailed Godwits.
Another area we visited in January was Moelfre. After walking out onto the headland we had the amazing spectacle of hundreds of Guillemots and Razorbills feeding off the western tip of Ynys Moelfre. Above them in this feeding frenzy around 70 Kittiwakes were dipping onto the surface along with a mass of gulls amongst which the glowing white wings of an adult Mediterranean Gull shone out like a beacon. On the rocky shore Purple Sandpiper joined the Turnstone and Dunlin. An early returning Lesser Black-backed Gull was on the island alongside Great Black-backed Gulls, Cormorants and Shags. On the more sheltered east side of the headland Great Northern and Red-throated Divers basked with Great Crested Grebes.