Ken breezes through the start of February with more good birds on his patch

A strong north westerly wind is blowing as we move into February and waves are crashing over the top of the breakwater in Holyhead. Plenty of birds are sheltering in the safety of the harbour, great northern diver, red-throated diver, great crested grebe, red-breasted merganser, guillemot, razorbill and at least 8 black guillemots which are now attaining their black and white breeding plumage. Beyond the breakwater kittiwakes are heading west towards North Stack. Early morning on 2nd and I am heading east out of Wales and into Cheshire, my destination is Parkgate and I am not going to be on my own today. Birders are coming from all directions, Kathy James is driving up from Aberystwyth, Pat Moore (a birding friend I have known for 15 years is arriving from Shrewsbury) and by 10am more than 100 birders are here. We could be in for a feast if the weather conditions are right, we have a 10metre high-tide and if the winds are favourable the saltmarsh in front of us will be flooded and the birds will be pushed in towards us. Pink-footed geese are dotted about out in the marsh and at least 4 great white egrets can be seen, a peregrine is perched on a distant post and a merlin dashes through causing panic amongst lapwing and redshank. A female marsh harrier slowly moves across the saltmarsh and flushes a male hen harrier, a dog-fight begins and another marsh harrier joins in before the hen harrier slinks away to find a more peaceful corner. A couple of stock doves hurtle past and skylarks call as they fly over. A very enjoyable mornings birding. Now I have to dash home as guest’s are arriving this evening, Pete (Kathy’s Dad) and Steve (her brother) are coming over to Anglesey for a long weekend to do some sea-fishing. On Sunday morning we drive out to collect some bait but that’s not all we collect, pulling in just before gallows point near Beaumaris we find a drake eider in the menai straits. While I am waiting for the lads to sort out their bait a sparrowhawk circles high above the trees in a display flight, a kingfisher flashes across the water at the nearby Pen y parc reservoir. The fishermen leave on Monday morning and my car goes in for its M.O.T in the afternoon. I take the opportunity to walk the coast from Holyhead to Penrhos CP. A great northern diver is out in Holyhead Bay and as I approach Beddmanarch Bay I find a female long-tailed duck off the headland with a Slavonian grebe close by. 3 adult Mediterranean gulls are just off the car park and as I walk back through the woods I enjoy the antics of red squirrels dashing up and down the trees.

      A good variety of waders are seen as I walk the Alaw estuary on the 6th, lapwing, knot, grey plover, black-tailed and bar-tailed godwits plus a greenshank. In the surrounding fields I find 3 whooper swans amongst the herd of mutes whilst out on the mudflats the first 3 returning lesser black-backed gulls have arrived back on the estuary. The next day I visit the Inland Sea at low tide, a very high count of 115 pintail are present and I find 5 scaup, elusive as ever, hiding in one of the inlets. A single dark-bellied brent goose is amongst the many pale-bellied birds and a great northern diver glides majestically over the water dwarfing a Slavonian grebe as it passes by. Later I count 28 mediterranean gulls roosting out on the water of Beddmanarch Bay at high-tide. Some signs of a few birds moving as I do a sea-watch off The Range on 9th with 3 red-throated divers, a gannet, 14 kittiwakes, 2 common scoter and 39 auks passing north in one hour. A water rail was showing well at Soldiers Point.

About nature.bites.admin

Kathy is a wildlife enthusiast who loves nothing more than to inspire people about nature. She is the Trust Development Officer for the West Wales Rivers Trust, a researcher at Aden Productions and offers guided wildlife tours on Anglesey with the amazing Ken Croft. Outside of work, Kathy arranges Anglesey Marine Week in order to promote engagement in conservation. Please see the 'Wildlife Tours' page of the website for more details of how to join a tour.

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