Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Tripping and Dipping in North Wales

Here goes...

Saturday 3rd March, 2012
A day out birding North Wales with Martyn and Richard.

Morfa Nefyn

The plan for the day had been based around a couple of potential ticks for some of the crew, one of these being Surf Scoter, our target bird in this location.

After a 4.45am start and a cookie-fuelled journey we arrived here around 8.00am. The wintering female Surf Scoter was nowhere to be seen, despite a thorough scanning of the bay. In fact, there were no sea duck present at all, which was a worrying sign.

Gannet, Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake and Shag were all readily available in the bay; seabirds a welcome sight for tired midland eyes. Also present here were Rock Pipit and Raven.

Time to cut our losses and move on.


The whole trip had been a bit of a risk in the twitching stakes as there had been no news on either bird. We were now on the look out for our second target, an immature Rose-Coloured Starling that had been reported earlier in the week, but not for a few days now. Thankfully, the risk payed off this time as Rose-Coloured Starling was easily located amongst a small Starling flock a top a local house.

This was a very scruffy-looking bird undergoing moult, but nonetheless a very welcome addition to my life list (lifer 285).

Rose-Coloured Starling, Holyhead
Image courtesy of Martyn Yapp

Around the harbour we saw Guillemot, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, but disappointingly no Black Guillemot on this occasion.

South Stack RSPB

Although the seabird colony is by no means back in full swing, it was pleasing to see a considerable number of Guillemots taking up their places on the ledges, with a smaller number of Razorbills and Fulmar also present. Much too early for puffin yet. 

 Not suitable for faint-hearted RSPB members

 Guilles on ledges

We were pleased to connect with a fine pair of Chough on the roadside fields and also in the way of corvids a few Raven were about.

The plan had been to bird Anglesey for the rest of the day guided by Martyn, who has a seasoned knowledge of the area, however before we decided our next move, he received a pager message which changed our course of action...

Llandulas, Colwyn Bay, Conway

...Three drake Surf Scoter reported here this morning. Still needed by myself and Richard and kind of on the way back to the midlands, so here we were.

Well thousands of Scoter were also in the bay here. We gave it a hell of a good go, but to no avail with the vast majority of them staying extremely distant and gradually disappearing further out to sea.

The bay also held 30 plus Red-throated Diver, c20 Red-breasted Merganser and many Great crested Grebe.

After a couple of hours of staring at black dots, a gull roost forming in the bay late afternoon provided a welcome distraction. This contained two adult Med Gulls and an albino Common Gull. A quick Google took me to these two Welsh Forum links, which indicate this very interesting looking bird has been knocking around since at least 2007:

Really enjoyed the day, despite the lack of Surf Scoter.

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