Mike's 200 bird challenge Blog 3

For me personally one of the best things about taking part in the My 200 challenge is the incentive to go out and experience new places which you wouldn't necessarily have visited.

I was lucky enough to be in Anglesey over the last few days in February, experiencing perfect spring like weather, and went to RSPB South Stack, Penmon Point, Moelfre and the Inland Sea, all of which are incredibly beautiful.

My first port of call was South Stack, near Holyhead in the north west of the island. The reserve has a viewpoint over the sea cliffs and it was amazing to see so many Guillemots and Razorbills clinging to small ledges or bobbing about in the sea. A little too early for the Puffins yet, and no Fulmar or Kittiwake, so a return journey will have to be scheduled  later in the year.  I also managed a distant scoped sighting of four Chough, and a lovely view of a Rock Pipit which perched on the cliffs right below me by the viewpoint.

Next stop was the inland sea, the tidal body of water that splits Holy Island from Anglesey, where I had been told a Long Tailed Duck was regularly seen. Following the directions given me I found other birders at the spot and soon found the duck, quickly followed by two Slavonian Grebes in the sea off Penrhos Coastal Park.

The next morning we awoke to another glorious sunny day, and were out of the house early, and at Penmon Point opposite Puffin Island before 8. The sun was shining, the sea was mirror calm, and there was nobody else around to shatter the peace. We spent the next couple of hours watching the birds and seals bobbing about in the water, including another Slavonian Grebe, and a Red Throated Diver.

During the rest of the day we toured the north coast, calling in at some lovely places along the way, and adding a few new species, notably a single Black Guillemot in the sea off the lifeboat station in Moelfre. Incidentally the food and service at Ann’s Pantry in Moelfre, where we enjoyed an alfresco lunch, was superb!

With the help of many friendly birders along the way I managed to add 12 species to my list over the course of the three days, highlights being 40 plus Eider Ducks displaying on mirror like sea off Puffin Island, hundreds of Guillemot and Razorbill on the cliffs at South Stack, and my first Hawfinches ever, in the trees by the river at LLanrwst in Snowdonia (on the journey over). Bizarrely we also caught up with the Hooded Crows which have been much reported, in the car park at McDonalds in Holyhead, much to the amusement of early morning diners!

I would highly recommend a few days birding on this lovely island, and I can’t wait to return very soon to hopefully catch up with the puffins, and get some better views of the elusive Choughs.