Trip reports

Wet Wanderings in Wales - Group trip to Llanfairfechan, Sunday February 10th

Wet Wanderings in Wales - Group trip to Llanfairfechan, Sunday February 10th
Egrets -Neil Prendergast

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Despite the most unpromising of weather forecasts, a dozen group members met up on the promenade at Llanfairfechan, overlooking the tip of Anglesey and Puffin Island. And the day started extremely well, with a dipper seen bobbing in the fast-flowing stream beside the car park, even before we'd all finished assembling !

From the promenade we could see several red-throated divers in the middle distance, with great crested grebes nearer in, as well a red-breasted merganser sitting on the lake right behind the visitor shelter. There were also considerable numbers of oyster catchers flying west in front of us, so in due course we headed into the wind and rain and followed them along the shoreline towards Morfa Madryn reserve. This combines freshwater pools and wet grassland, favoured by lapwings in particular, with saltmarsh and shallow estuarial waters. Having arrived at high tide, we were rewarded by the sight of a great mass of oystercatchers huddled along the shingle spit curving across the bay in front of the (very welcome) hide, together with smaller numbers of bar-tailed godwits, dunlin and redshank. As the waters began to recede the dunlins in particular became very busy, dashing around to find the best feeding, and were joined by a few ringed plovers, as well as the larger waders.

It was time to move on, so we headed back to the promenade, via a short detour to the sewage works, situated in a small wood nearby. Several pied wagtails and one grey were seen, as well as a meadow pipit, making the most of the insect life around the settling tanks. Then we drove a short distance further west to visit The Spinnies at Aberogwen, described as a coastal lagoon, with reedbeds and woodland surrounds, and another view on to the great bay of Traeth Lafan.

The lagoon hosted mallard, wigeon, teal and a little grebe, as well as two little egrets, hunched up on the shoreline, though we were not fortunate enough to catch sight of the local kingfishers.
The second hide on the reserve gives views on to the shore as well as inland, and from there we spotted a greenshank, showing well in contrast to the smaller darker redshank, as well as one egret busy hunting in a muddy creek.

Then it was back along the beach, passing a rock pipit along the way, and on to Conwy for a quick check on the RSPB reserve and a welcome cup of tea. A small flock of pochard looked very striking in the fading light, and we almost spotted the firecrest, known to flit among the trees ..... But there were siskin and redpoll, and we certainly did find our final target for the day, which was the scoter, a seaduck which winters in the area. Chris confidently led us to the shore at Llanddulas, and sure enough there in front of us was a huge flock of scoters, looking almost like a floating mass of seaweed until they briefly lifted off the water.

All in all, everyone agreed it had been an excellent winter outing, with a final total of 57 species seen.

Anne Pope