Coastal watching, then turn inland for raptors and waders
THE RELENTLESS POUNDING of the Irish Sea has resulted in a massive pebble upper level shoreline contrasting with a superb lower sandy beach combining to protect a low-lying hinterland. Part of that is now occupied by Caernarvon Airport, which includes a small museum and café, beyond which lies Foryd Bay, while away to the east, the region of Snowdonia dominates the skyline. At the northern extremity of the peninsula, Fort Belan advertises self-catering cottages where once Sir Ralph Payne-gallwey 1848-1916, best known to birdwatchers as the author of British Decoys, demonstrated that ancient ballistas could hurl a stone ball across the Menai Straits, here just over a quarter of a mile wide, and that a crossbow could hit a target at the same range. His other interests included golf – it was he who designed the ball with its reticulated surface. South of the airport, and inland from the shore, Morfa Dinlle RSPB reserve comprises almost 300 acres of wet and rushy pastures and permanent and seasonal pools. It provides ideal habitats for nesting Lapwings and has resulted in more than 50 pairs nesting. In autumn and winter, Golden Plovers join the Lapwings here and, although much less visible, so do Snipe, so keep a look out. The inshore waters of Caernarvon Bay are among the most important in Wales for wintering divers, including Red-throated and Great Northern Divers and, with patience and good fortune, the occasional Black- throated. Rock Pipits are resident along the coast, while the possibility of wintering Snow Buntings and Twite should never be overlooked.