Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sandwich Terns, and more, at Rhyl

I've been up in Rhyl the last four days to see family. Managed to get out for a bit of beach-birding on Friday for four hours and again for another two hours this morning. Luckily the weather was on my side both times. Even more luckily, my cousins live just a road away from the beach.
Friday the wind was a little cool, and after walking half way between Splashpoint and the Dunes, I almost gave up seeing anything. Normally at Rhyl I get guaranteed views of Turnstones and Redshanks, occasional Oystercatchers and Curlew, and at least one Kestrel or Peregrine over the golf course opposite the coast line. That morning there was hardly anything around. I tried a bit of sea watching, and managed to get a glimpse of a tern shaped bird coming in to shore. I followed its progress and it landed about another quarter of mile in front of me, on the beach. I trekked on, went down on to the beach and eventually came across a healthy congregation of Sandwich Terns, all in full summer plumage. They were split over several areas, including the breakwaters, and I lost count at 100. The last time I saw Sandwich Terns at Rhyl was late one summer when they had lost their stunning black caps. Fridays birds were not only in breeding plumage but I was privileged to watch them displaying, gifting fish and mating.
Walking back from there I noticed a couple of small birds perching on the prom wall. A quick glance in my bins confirmed they were Wheatears. Not so long ago there was a Desert Wheatear reported on the golf course, so I had to go and investigate. On the golf course and the rocks, I counted 18 Wheatears. The course was quite busy, and so was the beach and the rock pools, so the birds were flitting between the two areas. I sat myself down on a breakwater, and waited for the birds to come to me, which they did. They were all Northern Wheatears, no Desert ones that I could see.
This morning I got up early to grab a couple of hours before I had to get my train home. On the golf course there are intermittent clumps of reeds. On Friday I could hear a warbler when I was photographing the Wheatears, so this morning my goal was to track down the little warbler. There's a public walkway that cuts through the golf course, and as long as you look both ways for golfers about to put in a shot (can you tell I don't have a clue about golf ???) its quite safe, and you're not trespassing. I found a pair of Sedge Warblers in the first bunch of reeds I came across. They were singing their little hearts out. When I eventually started walking back, I could hear Sedges all over the course. There must have been at least another ten pairs on site.
So considering this four day break was all about my family, I didn't do too bad with the six hours birding either. Will be popping back up there in a couple of months, so will be interesting to see how much has changed.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful to see so many Terns.. I saw about this number near the beach not too far from where I live.

    Cracking shots and glad you enjoyed your visit, Wendy...