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June 20th-Rhos Point

13.34- A sunny day with a strong breeze made it feel cold, but I was in need of some quick-fix fresh air and for that, Rhos Point is the perfect spot. It’s also one of my favourite spots for watching wading birds, although I don’t visit it much during the breeding season as it is almost deserted by birds and becomes uncannily quiet. Today I arrived as the tide was coming in and I spotted a small group of Oystercatchers waiting patiently for today’s incoming lunch, so I waited too to see if they would be joined by others.

As I made my way down nearer to the shore I heard some lively chirruping emanating from a shrub that has taken hold on the promenade edge, then a few House Sparrows flew out and headed for the shore below to forage amongst the exposed rocks.

160620-Rhos Point 1334-House Sparrow

Two elegant Sandwich Terns flew low over the sea, close to its edge.

160620-Rhos Point 1335-Sandwich Terns flying

13.37 pm – Oystercatchers on the sea edge use the waiting time to rest or preen.

160620-Rhos Point 1337-Oystercatchers 160620-Rhos Point 1337b-Oystercatchers

Oystercatchers are high on the list of my most favourite birds, they have great character and charisma and the more I learn more about them the more fascinating they become. They are large wading birds and when not resting are noisy. They sport large long orange or red bills, which they use for smashing or prying open molluscs.

The diet of coastal oystercatchers is varied, although dependent upon coast type; on this rocky shore with its extensive mussel beds, they will prey upon mussels of course, and also on limpets and gastropods. They also take advantage of whatever the tides bring in such as small fish and crabs.

160620-Rhos Point 1339b-Oystercatcher with blunt beak

The shape of this bird’s bill shows it to be a ‘hammerer’

The bill shape varies according to the diet. ‘Stabbers’ feed by jabbing their laterally compressed bill tips in between the valves of a mussel’s shell, while ‘hammerers’ crack open mussel shells by pounding on them. Those birds with blade-like bill tips pry open or smash mollusc shells, and those with pointed bill tips tend to probe for worms.

13.40 – The Oystercatchers were joined by a beautiful Sandwich Tern.

160620-Rhos Point 1342-Oystercatchers & Sandwich Tern 2

The Sandwich tern is a summer breeding visitor, returning to north-west Wales & Anglesey from late March to September. In the UK, many of the important colonies survive because they are on nature reserves.

This is a very white tern, which in summer breeding plumage had a full black cap on its head. The bill is long and black with a diagnostic yellow tip. The legs are short and black and the tail short and forked. In flight it shows grey wedges on its wings tips.

160620-Rhos Point 1340a-Sandwich Tern

13.44- A small number of Curlews flew in to land on the rocky sea edge, where their cryptic plumage allows them to all but disappear.

I took this short video as the Curlews arrived – coudn’t avoid the wind noise!

160620-Rhos Point 1344-Curlews foraging

160620-Rhos Point 1347-Curlews foraging on sea edge

The curlew is the largest European wading bird, instantly recognisable on winter estuaries or summer moors by its long, downcurved bill, brown upperparts, long legs and evocative call.

160620-Rhos Point 1349-Curlew

160620-Rhos Point 1346-Oystercatchers & Curlews

13.47- The mysterious moment that suddenly galvanises waiting wading birds into action arrived and triggered most, though not all of the Oystercatchers to begin foraging in earnest.

160620-Rhos Point 1347-Oystercatcher (2)

160620-Rhos Point 1346-Oystercatcher bathing

13.48- A Herring gull arrived to join the party.

160620-Rhos Point 1348-Oystercatchers, Curlews & Herring Gull

13.52- A second Sandwich Tern flew in, closely followed by a third.

160620-Rhos Point 1352-Sandwich Terns

The terns also settled down to preen.

160620-Rhos Point 1352-SandwichTerns preening & Curlew

13.59- A Cormorant flew past at speed.

160620-Rhos Point 1359-Cormorant flying

14.04- A Herring gull- it’s good to see them down here, where away from the rooftops, rubbish tips and promenades they are not upsetting anyone!

160620-Rhos Point 1404-Herring Gull 1

160620-Rhos Point 1404-Herring Gull

160620-Rhos Point 1410-Herring Gull 2