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A day out at Anglesey, Padarn Country park and a twitch

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Old Sunday 13th June 2004, 13:48   #1
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A day out at Anglesey, Padarn Country park and a twitch

I don’t normally do day trip reports but I thought that this time I would give it a go.

Saturday I had decided that a day in Anglesey was in order but an early start was need. The clock was at 04:30 when I left and I had considered calling in at Whixall Moss on the way for a reported sandpiper but as I had never been there before I decided against it and travelled on to Anglesey.

First port of call was Fedw Fawr, not far past Beaumaris, for the Black Guillemot. As I pulled away from Beaumaris I did spot a New Year tick when a Gannet could clearly be seen in the Menai straights.

Fedw Fawr car park and usually you can see the Black Guillemots can be seen from here but not today. A New Year tick flew by in the shape of a Guillemot and quickly followed by a few Shag.

Normally I walk along the cliffs edge to get a good shot of the birds but this time decided to use the path that goes down to just above the sea. There is a walk here that takes you under the cliffs and I hoped that I could get closer to the birds from here and it worked a treat. At the time I got there it was very cloudy and quite cold, and menacing with black clouds rolling by, so I put my waterproof jacket on just in case. I certainly didn’t need it as not long after I reached where I wanted to be the clouds had almost moved away from me revealing a lovely clear blue sky.

Thankfully the Black Guillemots came out (4 of them and a year tick) and gave me some excellent views, albeit on quite large rolling waves. This made photography quite difficult as by the time I had clicked the shutter the birds had disappeared behind a wave.

A bird started calling behind me. Just a one-note call but straight away I thought I knew what it was before I turned to look for it. It was a very mobile Rock Pipit and a nice addition to my year list. I tried to get a photo but it was far too mobile for that.

Above me, in the cliff edges were a few Fulmar on nests. They were about 100 foot away but I did manage a couple of shots of one on a nest. Thankfully another Fulmar flew onto a ledge close by and afforded me a chance of a better shot.

I had spent the best part of at least an hour here so I was of to Cemlyn Bay for some Tern photography, plus the hope of a visiting Roseate Tern. Whilst there I had also noticed the pagers announcement of a rare bird in Cheshire, a Spotted Sandpiper. I had passed this site by about 25 miles and would do so on my way back again. It was not a lifer for me but would be a good year tick. I thought that the bird would possibly stay for the day and possibly move on by the next day so I took a calculated gamble to go for it after completing the sites I had intended to visit.

Upon arrival at Cemlyn Bay I noticed a pair of Red breasted Mergansers at the edge of the lagoon close to the wall (another year tick) but they were asleep with their backs to me and by now the heat haze was too bad to take anything of distance.

Upon arrival at the Tern Colony the young lady Warden was sitting down watching what was going on. I sat down on the one provided chair and we began to chat though the cacophony of noise projected by the numerous Sandwich Terns. I asked about the Roseate’s but apart from a bird that visited last week (that Edward managed to see – grrrrr) no others had been seen.

I settled back to watch the antics of the Terns, B H Gulls and Oystercatchers, most of them with chicks. He Sandwich Terns were calling incessantly and going into displays when either their partner left or came back. It was a comical situation. Most of the Terns went into the water for a communal bath and I tried desperately to get a flight shot of the birds as they lifted of the water to go to the island for a preen. I think I have managed one half decent one.

I sat there for over 2 hours chatting to the warden and watching the birds but now it was time to move on to South Stack.

South Stack was as busy as usual and Razorbills and Guillemots were everywhere (Razorbills being a new year tick). Puffins were a different matter and I scanned all along where they normally were, nothing. I scanned the seas, nothing, then finally scanned further out to sea and thankfully I managed to get one (a New Year tick). Nobody else there had seen one and soon I had a queue of people looking though my scope at this distant bird. 4 Choughs were flying around our heads (a New Year British tick – I had them in Spain last month). I also managed one Kittiwake (also a New Year tick) whilst I was there. Gannets were out to sea but the heat was causing the distant viewing to become very difficult. I was hoping for a Manx Shearwater but none materialised. The day had now become stiflingly hot.

It was getting fairly late in the day and time to go to my last port of call, Padarn Country Park, overlooking Llanberis Pass.

I made my way to the new A55 road and was soon tootling alongside nicely towards the Welsh mainland. I was a couple of miles north of junction 6 near Llangefni when a largish bird started to hover just by the side of the road. I checked my mirror to see if any cars were behind me, nothing, so I screeched to a halt. The bird was about 50 yards away and 50 feet up in the air and took no time to ID a Honey Buzzard (New Year British tick – I had some in Spain last month). That was a definite bonus for this trip. Totally unexpected. It was 16:05 and I rang up RBA to have it put on the pager. As yet no one else seems to have seen the bird.

The blue sky gave way to clouds as I crossed the Menai Straights. By the time I had reached the Padarn Country Park, which is an old disused slate quarry, it had become fairly cold and dark but I decided to carry on. It’s been about 6 years since I last came here. Here Ring Ouzels breed and you can usually get good views of Pied Flys, Wood warblers, Garden warblers and Redstarts as well as Peregrine and Raven but today was very quiet. I heard plenty of Redstarts but didn’t see any of them. A flock of about 10 Lesser Redpoll were flitting around the car park but much too mobile to pin one down for a photo.

The longish walk took me past mountains of slate, down steep, disused, narrow rail tracks where they had hauled wagons of slate up the mountainside, and through derelict buildings where the workers used to live. On the way the only things added were a surprise pair of Chough and a Goat busily chomping on something whilst he lay on a bed of slate, nothing else showed, which was very disappointing

By the time I had reached the car it was 18:15 and, thankfully throughout the day the pager had been informing me that the Spot Sand was still there. It was about 2 hours away from me so of I set and arrived on site just before 20:30 at Elton Flashes, near Sandbach in Cheshire. Immediately I was put onto the bird (New Year tick) but by now the sun was very low and there wasn’t enough light for me to get any speed up on my camera to take a decent shot. The bird was very distant and mobile but I managed one record shot of it.

I stayed there for 30 minutes, little knowing that I was standing right by both Paul Hacket and Tom McKinney. It transpires that they were both in the small crowd I was standing in but I missed them. Sorry fellas.

In the end it was an excellent day with 12 new GB ticks and 10 of those were added to my combined GB & Europe list making my total for the year to 274. This ended a very productive 2 weeks that has seen me add Whimbrel, Squacco Heron, Bufflehead and Broad billed Sandpiper to those birds seen yesterday.

I have attached a few photos from this day. One is of a mating pair of Arctic Terns, 3 of Sandwich Terns, one flying, one on its own and one where a chick is on it and the last one of a Common Tern.
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Old Sunday 13th June 2004, 13:57   #2
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A few more photos from yesterday.

The photo of the chick is where the two adults flew off and the chick tried to follow - Ahhh!!

The next is of a Black Guillemot flapping its wings (not too clear but it gives you an indication what they look like). The next is of a Fulmar on the cliff face followed by Razorbills and Guillemots on the sea.
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Old Sunday 13th June 2004, 13:59   #3
tom mckinney
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Well I now know where I'm going tomorrow!
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Old Sunday 13th June 2004, 15:15   #4
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Hi Reader,


Quote:
I was a couple of miles north of junction 6 near Llangefni when a largish bird started to hover just by the side of the road. I checked my mirror to see if any cars were behind me, nothing, so I screeched to a halt. The bird was about 50 yards away and 50 feet up in the air and took no time to ID a Honey Buzzard
Hate to be a party-pooper . . . but I've never heard of a Honey-buzzard hovering, and the habitat is way off, too - it is classic Common Buzzard behaviour, though

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Old Sunday 13th June 2004, 16:33   #5
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Sorry Michael, holding is what I meant and calling it that has gotten me into bother before. I always do it, can't get out of the habit.

I know what Honey Buzzards look like having seen plenty of them and as Monkeyman, forum member, will tell you. I was pretty adept at picking them out in Spain a month ago.

Regarding typical habitat. I can tell you that I have had them on cliff sides, out in open fields, over reservoirs, almost all types of habitat in my time so typical isn't typical to me.

If you know around the Llangefni area you will know that Cefni reservoir and Llyn Alaw are close by with their wooded areas and clearings alongside and I would have thought that those two areas would catch a passing Honey Buzzards attention.

One problem with your statement though Michael. As I did explain, it was only 50 yards away and 50 feet up in the air and i said that It took no time to ID. That actualy meant that I looked at the bird. At that range it is quite easy to determine the pigeon style head from a Buzzards head, Also as it glided away in the typical flat wing pose (i know, Buzzards can do that as well). Any way I have never seen a Common Buzzard with a double bar as well as the dark bar on the trailing edge of the tail before.

It is obvious that you are an excellent birder with far more knowledge than me but you can be a bit negative at times Michael. It would have been nice to have commented on my day out, then made your observation.

It's almost like you are reading threads to find fault.
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Old Sunday 13th June 2004, 17:07   #6
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Smile

What a fabulous day out you had, hope to be going to Anglesey in a couple of weeks (fingers crossed).

Your photos are superb, I now may be able to recognise some if I see them, have a pair of bins, but not good with a camera (have trouble focussing).

Again thanks for a great report, has whetted my appetite.

Whoops, so excited forgot to sign.


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Old Sunday 13th June 2004, 18:13   #7
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Glad you had a good day on Angelsey, I live on the island (Llangoed to be precise), and thoroughly enjoy it. From the drive to and from work along the Straits, taking the dog for a walk to Penmon Point, and fishing at White Beach (the rocks below Fedw Fawr),the amount and variety of avian activity is amazing. so sssh, please don't tell anyone else.

The 'honey buzzard' you reported, I believe is a 1yr old common buzzard hatched from a nest near to the Cob Pool last year, by a resident pair from Newborough Forest. He has remarkably light plumage underneath and quite a russet colored mantle. This juvenile can quite often be seen riding on an on-shore; south westerly breeze, scanning for road kill on the A 55, especially on the Malltraeth marshes section.

Then again it may have been a honey buzzard but I'd never heard of them this far west before.

Thank you to the site admin for this site, I've been looking for something like this for ages, at last something that caters for all levels of experience and all aspects of natural history and not just a twitchers tick list.
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Old Sunday 13th June 2004, 18:33   #8
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I took my wife and daughter to Anglesey about a month ago now . I too had plenty of Guillemot & Razorbill , around 4 Fulmar ( 2 on a nest ) only 2 Kittiwake ( flying in and out of a blind gulley ) and 3 Puffin !! ( all floating on the sea at the base of the cliff ). I saw 4 Chough , c.15 Stonechat , c.20 Linnet , c.15 Meadow Pipit & 1 Tree Pipit around the cliff edge area .
Moved on to The Range and spent so long looking for Dotterel ( without success ) that we ran out of time for Cemlyn and Sandwich Tern . Thing that got me was about 3 or 4 day's after my visit a Ring-necked Duck showed up !! Luck ? what luck do I have , eh ?
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Old Sunday 13th June 2004, 19:45   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jada dulo
I took my wife and daughter to Anglesey about a month ago now . I too had plenty of Guillemot & Razorbill , around 4 Fulmar ( 2 on a nest ) only 2 Kittiwake ( flying in and out of a blind gulley ) and 3 Puffin !! ( all floating on the sea at the base of the cliff ). I saw 4 Chough , c.15 Stonechat , c.20 Linnet , c.15 Meadow Pipit & 1 Tree Pipit around the cliff edge area .
Moved on to The Range and spent so long looking for Dotterel ( without success ) that we ran out of time for Cemlyn and Sandwich Tern . Thing that got me was about 3 or 4 day's after my visit a Ring-necked Duck showed up !! Luck ? what luck do I have , eh ?
Would you believe that the Tree pipit is still there. I couldn't find any Puffins close in only the one about 200 yards out to sea.

Bad luck on the R N Duck but I had a similar thing happen to me yesterday. You will recall that I sat at Cemlyn for a while in the vain hope that a Roseate Tern would turn up but it didn't. I couldn't believe it when I got to the Spot Sand site. The pager announced that 2 Roseate's had turned up at Cemlyn opposite the warden, just where I had been. Even worse one of them was still there this morning, grrrrr!!
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Old Monday 14th June 2004, 09:18   #10
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Hi Reader

Sounds like a good day. Hope you had better weather than I did. Sounds like I timed my visit to Cemlyn just right with regard to the Roseate Terns. Visiting for the first time, seeing one within 20 seconds of arriving at the tern colony watchpoint. Don't you just hate it when other people do that!! ;-)

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Old Monday 14th June 2004, 16:32   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward
Hi Reader

Sounds like a good day. Hope you had better weather than I did. Sounds like I timed my visit to Cemlyn just right with regard to the Roseate Terns. Visiting for the first time, seeing one within 20 seconds of arriving at the tern colony watchpoint. Don't you just hate it when other people do that!! ;-)

E
Yeah!! go on Edward, rub it in. LOL

You may have seen that the Roseate's turned up later in the day and one of them has been there ever since. Just my luck. Still it was a smashing day all the same and I did have glorious weather for most of the day so I can't complain, plus I ended up with a smart bird with the Spot Sand.
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