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Choughs, RSPB South Stack

And Cemlyn Lagoon for complete overkill. Both sites are in north-west Wales on Anglesey, or technically Holy Island for the RSPB reserve, which is just past Holyhead. I was last there in June 1999 when the cliffs were full of breeding seabirds. Not so this year: they’d dispersed although a few gannets fished offshore and four razorbills bobbed around Cemlyn Bay.

That was a surprise. Also a surprise was a few turnstones for their first appearance on my Welsh list. And then of course the choughs. I’d made a special point of hunting them down at South Stack and had found three individuals. Then two at Cemlyn just fell into my lap.

So that was the choughs – the purpose of the trip. I may have also tracked an arctic skua until an attempt to zoom too far in lost it. I’m beginning to wonder about the eyepiece on my Kowa scope. It’s pretty much useless beyond 40x as the image darkens so. Perhaps a wide-angle version at that magnification would be a better idea, especially for seawatching?

Anglesey is now an easy day trip from Snowdonia thanks to the A55. Back in 1999 it took a grind along the A5 and I elected to overnight in Holyhead, which was… ahem, dull. This year though I could base myself near Llanberis at my mate Max’s cottage.

What amazes me is that in my time I’ve driven all four sides of the Snowdon massif and never been in. Now I realise it’s the kind of area where I could happily die, being similar to the Highlands. It also recalls bits of the States. And seabirds are nearby. All a mere 130 miles from Bristol, although it takes a while to drive: the baleful motorway has not penetrated the fastness of Wales. Long may that continue!

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