Wednesday, 5 February 2014

First visit of the year to Rhyl.....

I've been going to stay with my cousins in Rhyl on a regular basis, for at least four years now, so when the news of a powerful storm tidal surge hit Rhyl early last December, I was naturally worried.
Luckily my cousins bungalow was not flooded, but he and his family were evacuated due to on-going concerns about the next high tide, and because of power cuts. They got away with it but some of their neighbours, and some of the roads both behind their bungalow and to the sides, were not so lucky.
Last weekend was my first visit both this year and since the tidal surge hit.
The enormity of the situation cannot be put into words. Two months on and the majority of the worst hit residents are still not back in their homes. The surge was so powerful that it not only affected those closest to the sea, but also went underground and flooded basements and ruined foundations of some homes more inland.
The area that I usually 'bird' when I come up for my visits, are from Splash Point, along the prom, past the golf course, and up to Prestatyn sand dunes. That was the area that was most affected. 
Splash Point. This is an 'after' photo taken on Sunday 2nd Feb 2014. New temporary defences can be seen to the right of the photo. This area used to be a popular walk through, with benches and a great view out to sea.
This is the view from half way up the prom. Splash Point is where the houses at the top right ends. On the left is the golf course. The fences were obliterated by the powerful tide. On the right is the sea wall. The surge on that December day was so powerful it went over the sea wall and immersed the whole of the green.
The photos below are of the same 'sea defence' system. Imagine the power of the wave to crack that !
There has always been a sign up along the prom about the ancient forests that once dominated the north welsh landscape, but the evidence was rarely seen. Now the tides have uncovered them again.
My last visit was in October last year, and I had never worried or considered about the power of a high tide before that, but after the events of early December, I saw the sea in a different light. When the tide comes in, it happens fast, much faster than I used to anticipate, and it seems to be higher than I remembered. But when its low tide, the whole atmosphere changes.
Below is a vid clip of the high tide last Sunday, but taken from the left of Splash Point where as my photos above, are taken from the right of Splash Point.....
So back to the birds. Although my visits to Rhyl are primarily for my family and friends, they all know me well enough to understand I have that 'urge' to get out birding when I stay.
 I managed to grab at least two hours out birding on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Sunday morning weather was perfect for observing and taking photos.
Common Gull
Pied Wagtail
 Monday morning was a lot duller, and my photos weren't as clear as I would have liked, but the high tide made for some interesting photos as the Redshanks struggled to stay on their feet in the swell, and the Turnstones were pushed ashore as the sea came in.
Redshank and Ringed Plover
Ringed Plovers
Great Black-backed Gull
Redshanks - before
and after.....the swell was immense
Turnstone snoozing
Turnstones pushed onto the steps by the high tide
Tuesday morning started off with a couple of rain showers, then the sun came out, which made the beautiful Curlew almost shine.

Sanderling and Ringed Plover
Ringed Plover
Curlew and Black-headed Gull
Linnets picking at the algae on rocks
Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit
male Stonechat
female Stonechat
So a very enjoyable few days watching the Rhyl bird life, but very sad to see the destruction caused by the storm tidal surge. I'm going back up there in a couple of months, so it will be interesting to see how things have changed by then. 


  1. Horrendous the damage the rains/wind have done... but glad you managed to get out for some birds... and a little bit of blue sky on Sunday it seems?

    (think blogger is doing funnies... your video seems to be acting strangely?)

  2. oh... and lovely pics too.... ... :)