Waders and wildfowl at the southern extremity of Anglesey
THE AFON BRAINT completes its short journey as a narrow twisting estuary before reaching the Menai Strait, beyond which Caernarvon and its astounding castle are immediately apparent and, further, the Snowdonia peaks and Snowdon itself. Towards the head of the Braint Estuary and providing access to the eastern shore, are the Giant’s Stepping Stones (the Rhuddgaer Stepping Stones). Take care when walking on these. The estuary lies at the eastern side of Newborough Warren, the first coastal National Nature Reserve in Wales, when declared in 1955. The sand dunes, one of the largest dune systems in Great Britain, coastal marshes, sandy and rocky shores are home to a dazzling array of plants and animals. The estuary is just a few minutes’ walk from the car park, and usually has Greenshank and Redshank while those who search diligently will hopefully be rewarded with the sighting of a Spotted Redshank. However, to make the most of the visit you need to be determined and head all the way to Abermenai Point. Here, the star birds for me, at least in winter, are the pale-bellied Brent Geese. The saltmarshes attract Hen Harrier, Merlin and Peregrine, while ignore Rock Pipits at your peril, as you could miss a Water Pipit. By contrast, easily reached and certainly not to be overlooked, is the open water area of Llyn Rhos-ddu, with its accessible-for-all bird hide. Here, the first confirmed record of Little Grebes breeding on Anglesey was obtained in 1902. Today, this bird, which you’ll find seems to spend more time beneath the surface than above, occurs on all suitable waters, so look out for them.