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September 10th-A brilliant day for birds continued….

As the tide began to return to the shore, every exposed rock in Penrhyn Bay was occupied by beady-eyed Cormorants.

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Black-headed gulls also waited.

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It seemed Rhos Point was the place to be for seabirds and waders today. In the time I have lived here I have never seen as many here all at once. I got there an hour or so before high tide, which is one of the best times to get close views of the birds waiting for their evening meal to be delivered. But as  there were also such a large number of terns and gulls swimming on the sea’s surface and flying low over it, there must have been fish there drawing them in, perhaps a shoal of small fish, sprats or whitebait¹.

The tideline at Rhos Point was crowded with Herring Gulls, Black-headed gulls and Sandwich Terns. A woman arrived with two dogs and stood and watched as they chased along close to the water’s edge, sending many of the birds skywards. I will resist having a rant about that, but it troubles me that people think it’s OK to allow their dogs to do that.

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Whilst waiting to see if the upped birds would return and re-settle I scanned along the sea edge to see what else might be waiting there. There were a whole host of Oystercatchers, trickier to see when their bright orange-red bills are tucked away whilst they rest. A few little Turnstones were dotted amongst them and then a larger bird at the back of this group, fast asleep with its head tucked well down – a duck for sure, maybe a female Red-breasted Merganser? Identifying ducks is not one of my strong points even when I have a good view of them.

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Standing in the shallow water were a good number of Redshanks

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and more Black-headed gulls.

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A few Sandwich Terns were in amongst this group of Redshank, Turnstones & black-headed gulls.

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I found only one Ringed Plover, although there could well have been more.

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A large number of Sandwich Terns occupied a finger of exposed rocks with a few Oystercatchers and gulls, with many more gulls bobbing around on the surrounding sea.

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The Sandwich Terns, here in large number today were noisy and excitable, with groups taking off and settling again in spots a few metres away along the shoreline. Some will remain here for the autumn and winter, but others will move on.

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Their association with Black-headed Gulls is one I’ve seen many times.

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There’s usually a crow or two waiting for the tide’s incoming feeding opportunities too.

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Amongst the multitude of gulls swimming around were several Red-throated Divers – difficult to keep in sight as they dive frequently and disappear just as you think you may have one in focus, but a man close by with a brilliant telescope patiently located them and let me have a close-up look. Still not easy as you can’t predict where they’re going to pop up again, but I managed a couple of spots – what an exciting treat. At one point I thought I may have got lucky with a view of a group of six birds, also swimming and frequently diving and disappearing beneath the surface, but they turned out to be Razorbills, not quite as ‘special’, but still lovely to see.

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They separated and mostly stayed too far out to see well without the aid of binoculars or a telescope, but as the tide progressed inwards, so also did one of the birds, allowing me a much better view of it.

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As I watched the razorbill, the duck also took to the water.

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I’m fairly confident it was  a female Red-breasted Merganser. (The female Goosander looks similar but brown colour of head extends around neck leaving just a white chin). On this bird the white of the throat seems to extend down the front of the neck.

¹ Whitebait is a collective term for the immature fry of fish, typically between 25 and 50 millimetres long. Such young fish often travel together in schools along the coast, and move into estuaries and sometimes up rivers.