Coastal watch­ing, then turn in­land for rap­tors and waders

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - DAVID SAUN­DERS

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.


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