“The day we went to Bangor”. Or at least The Spinnies, a North Wales Wildlife Trust reserve which is close by. It was dull, overcast and threatening rain as we gathered in Sandbach. But by the time we passed Llandudno, blue skies and sunshine greeted us. Ten of us met at our first stop, Llanfairfechan. Oystercatchers, Curlew and Little Egret were on the foreshore, while careful scoping brought to light Common and Velvet Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers, Great Crested Grebes and a winter-plumaged Great Northern Diver. The stream was checked for Dipper, but revealed only Pied Wagtail and bathing House Sparrows.

We hurried on to the Spinnies, where the Ogwen estuary was close to filling with the incoming tide. First bird of note was a male Eider in the channel, seen from the car park by telescope, quickly followed by Greylags flighting out, and the first of the winter’s Goldeneye visitors, feeding in the estuary. Jay and Buzzard made it into the notebook during the walk up to the Kingfisher hide, which overlooks the pool and lived up to its name. The turquoise and orange cruise missile whizzed around the back of the island, alighting a couple of times for all to catch good views. At least ten Greenshanks and a greater number of Redshanks roosted on the shore of the pool, and we took time to view their identification features.

On then to the main hide, which overlooks both the pool and the estuary. Some 59 Little Egrets roosted in the trees on the far side of the estuary, while a herd of Mute Swans patrolled the water, with a few Great Crested Grebes and good numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers and Mallards. The pool held a fishing Little Grebe, and a shy Great Spotted Woodpecker darted around the edges of the feeding area. Lunch was taken here, rather than “on the way”, but it was “A beautiful day”.

Walkers on the foreshore restricted the numbers of birds seen close to the hide, so a decision was made to relocate to Conwy RSPB reserve for a last hours’ birding. We were greeted with the news that a Cetti’s Warbler had taken up temporary residence at the Bridge Pool. We started in the restaurant area where one or two of our number partook of the goodies. The rest were keen to hear or catch a glimpse of the visitor, more normally associated with south and east coast reserves, so we pressed on to the bridge. Here was disappointment, as the warbler fell silent, and remained invisible during our stay there. Nevertheless, we did see a pair of Ravens and discussed their identification features compared to other corvids. From the Carneddau hides, we added Teal, Shelduck, Shoveler, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit and a female Pintail, bringing the total for the day to 57. And then we set out for home “And the wheels went round”. We may find it difficult to exceed that total at Pilling next month, but we can certainly give it a try!

Richard Howells

© Sandbach U3A 2024