I didn’t make it back to Wales from my Christmas break in Derbyshire until late on Friday night, which meant I was already four days behind other ‘Foot It’ competitors. David, the other warden from my summer position as a tern warden at Cemlyn Bay, had sent me a text on New Years Day saying his total was already 71 bird species! (Just as a reminder, Foot It, is a just-for-fun challenge to count the number of species you see on foot from your house. Ken and I have specified an area, from Holyhead Harbour to Penrhos Coastal Park, and have estimated that we’ll see 70 species, any on top of this will be bonus birds.)
Ken had very politely waited for my return so we could enter the Foot It challenge together and on Saturday I found time to leave the house before the sun set over Holyhead. With just an hour and half until dark we decided to take the short walk to Holyhead Harbour and then loop back through the housing estate via a stretch of beach. We got off to a great start with gems such as both Black and Common Guillemot from the fish quay, a pair of Red-breasted Merganser flew to the beach on our right and I was delighted to see an Oystercatcher again after my inland break. A young birder and his Dad arrived on their own North Wales tour, we got them on to the Black Guillemot and then I spotted a big dark bird lurking beyond the pier… a Great Northern Diver and another great tick!
The quay had been unusually busy (perhaps the fishermen needed to make up for the Christmas holidays by working on a Saturday?) and we missed out on Turnstones. We took a route following the coastline in the hope that we’d bump into them. No such luck, but what was that familiar and yet out of place noise?! Keeeooooow! A Chough flew off from this desolate bit of beach sandwiched between Holyhead Harbour and a housing estate, brilliant! A definite bonus bird.
Despite some fantastic birds, I was feeling pretty bewildered by the lack of waders and made a ridiculous un-bird-watcher-like shocked noise when we spied a group over the next hedgerow (sorry Ken).
There were curlew, Oystercatcher and Bar-tailed Godwit along with the missing Turnstone!
The light was fading and so we headed home.
Our next trip was to the shops! We added Rook and Magpie to the list.
Shortly afterwards, we saw a Pied Wagtail with great excitement…only to realise that we were sat in the car and that this tick would have to wait.
We had’t managed to get out again until late this afternoon when the grey clouds had blown away and the rain had stopped. A beautiful dusk unfolded! This time we skipped the harbour and headed in the direction of Penrhos Coastal Park via the beach. What was the second bird we should see? None other than that Pied Wagtail (get in!). Additions to the list included Pale-bellied Brent Goose and Greenshank in the bay. As we entered the wooded area, we picked up tits (blue and long-tailed), finches (gold) and several Mistlethrushes to add to two Song Thrushes along the path. Despite a very light evening indeed, we’d lost most traces of it as we attempted to meander through the woods (spooky!). We managed a little goldcrest, noisy mallards and a moorhen though, taking our total so far to 45. You can view our list so far and check out other competitors here.
It was an absolute pleasure to take an stroll through Penrhos this afternoon.Shockingly, this wildlife haven (home to badgers and owls too) is under threat of development! Land and Lakes are proposing to develop the land with nearly 500 eco-cottages – the irony is perhaps lost on them that in order to do so they will have to destroy many animal homes. I am not adverse to development, but this seems so unnecessary! Today, Ken and I walked though a courtyard of disused buildings bordering the woods; could these not be converted into accommodation instead of a tree with a nest in? In fairness, Land and Lakes claim that structure will be built (mostly) where no trees have to be felled, however I feel this does not take into account the disturbance during the construction process or of living in such close proximity to noisy, invasive humans!
Ta ta for now,
Kathy x x x x