Sunday, December 17, 2006

Birds of Anglesey

For the first time for over a fortnight the weather, yesterday, was fit enough for us to take a walk down by the lifeboat station at Moelfre. This is such a popular walk that the path has been tarmacadamed by the council.

It was late afternoon with the temperature now dropping as the sun set behind the clouds, sending the western sky into many shades of pink and rose red. We parked the car on the car park at Seawatch and walked round to the front, passing the bronze statue of Dic Evans as we reached the coastal path. The sea was calm and in the bay there was not a single small boat.

Out in Liverpool Bay, however, it was a different story. There were about six ships, of whom five were at anchor. A sixth ship sailed very slowly past the others. It passed so slowly that there was almost no bow wave. Between us and the ships lay Ynys Moelfre, the tiny island which is home to a host of seabirds who are never silent by day.

But just below us on a rock was a cormorant, watching the water. The cormorant seemed to have its characteristis evil gleam in its eye as it prepared itself to dive into the water in pursuit of the fish that humans can never actually see. On the island there are quite a number of cormorants standing like sentinels each day. With my binoculars I could see a flock of herring gulls roosting by the shore in the crevices on the little cliff. Now that winter is upon us there are no puffins in residence. We have to wait until spring to make our aquaintance with them once.

In the season there are many, many seabirds to be seen on the island. You can see them in abundance in the nesting season on Llandwyn Island at the southern end of the Menai Strait. A visit to Rhosneigr will present views of cormorants and shags on the rocks just offshore. Driver further along the coast and onto Holy Island to visit the cliffs at South Stack. Walk part way down the 400 steps to the lighthouse and then look back. There you will see a huge cliff populated by a host of different birds.

If you continue round the island on the A5025 a visit to Cemlyn Bay with a pair of binns will present a reward. At Cemlyn there is a lagoon, cut off from the sea by a huge spit of shingle. Sit there quietly and look out for all sorts of birds. In the past I have seen red breasted meganzers, mallards, great crested grebes and many more. Drive on to Cemaes, buy fish and chips in the best chippy on the island, and then watch out when you visit either the harbour or the beach. You will be dive-bombed by the cheekiest black headed gulls in the world! But it can be fun to feed them your scraps and see how they react to actually being formally fed. They strut about on the ground and then take off vertically all together as they try to get into the best position to catch the food you throw.

Of course, Anglesey is not just home to seabirds. There are many different species of other birds to be seen. If you spend any time on the lesser used roads you can have fun with the pheasants that you meet. We seem to see only Common pheasants and Golden Pheasants. But they entertain as they run along by the side of the car as if racing you. I have been told it is to protect their nest which will be close by. However, as this happened to me only this week it disproves the theory. Along with the birds many wild animals such as foxes, rabbits, hares etc can be seen in the lanes. My wife spotted a dead fox hanging from a field gate yesterday. But we have seen the live version quite often in the headlights at night.

Anglesey is a naturalist's paradise and many of them come to see what's happening all through the year. Many visitors shun the late autumn and winter time. We never have because we say that the island's beauty changes with each season. Anyway, I would rather be here in the depths of winter in the horizontal rain of which we have had so much recently than back in the large industrial towns and cities. Mind you, if we get any snow the island will come to a halt. All you need is a flurry of snow and people ring in to the office to say they can't make it. Where we come from, the only problem that faces us is the slow traffic as thousands make sure they get in to work on a snowy day. Three times we found the Llangefni library closed during a snowy week. The staff could not get in but we did - very easily.

Come and see our island. You will suddenly discover one of the most beautiful places in the United Kingdom. Finding your way around is a matter of keeping to roads that signpost the main towns and villages. But, be wary. You may not be able to pronounce the place names! Posted by Picasa

2 Comments:

Blogger Stu said...

A great read Keith and very informative. Myself and Wendy are avid "nature watchers" as most anglers are and even when not catching anything, once on the coast you can quite easily loose yourself just watching the wildlife.

At South Stack where you mentioned the sea bird collony during the summer although the nesting birds have gone, it's worth a visit becasue it's a great viewpoint to watch the dolphins and popoises hunting the vast shoals of fish - a brilliant spectacle that we have been luck enough to see many times.

Stuart
Sea Fishing and Walking in the UK

7:45 pm  
Blogger Keith Alexander said...

I'm told that around Point Lynas is good for dolphins and porpoises too.

I was up at Bryn y Mor Care home above Nebo last week and as I came up their drive there is a sign asking you to drive slowly - the 2 reasons given were 1. old folk and 2 wildlife. As I drove down the drive when I left a couple of hours later in falling darkness there were scores of pheasants on the drive and a rabbit making its way across.

Just now, with the leaves off the trees we can see into the fields behind and see a lot more wildlife this way. I am hoping there will be snow again this year because Pauline uses my photos to paint from. She has developed skills she never thought she had. Snowscapes are very beautiful if you catch them in the right light.

Next time you are coming with your rod, string and bent pin let me know and we can meet up.

5:33 pm  

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