Choughed

Bank holiday weekend. Anglesey. We started a bird list as soon as we drove over the border. It’s not all about birds though, don’t panic.

However, day one on reaching Anglesey, we headed straight to the campsite. By the time we’d selected our pitch we already had Herring gull, Jackdaw, Magpie, Swallow, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Wood pigeon, Crow, Chaffinch, Raven, Blue tit, Dunnock, and the icing on the campsite cake was a Garden warbler.

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Walking from the Oyster Catcher restaurant, along the beach, through Rhosneigr village and back. We observed Common curlew and noisy Oyster catcher out on some rocky outcrops. House sparrow, and Pied wagtail. Two gloriously rosy Linnet swooped by my nose out of some lucky sod’s garden. We watched a Starling disappear under a soffit to a secret little nest. And I got rather excited as I spotted a few white-rumped Wheatear flitting about the sand dunes.

Day two’s weather was not at all desirable. It didn’t stop us birding though. To add to our list we saw Robin, Jackdaw, Mallard, Collared dove, Greylag goose, Pheasant, White wagtail, Greenfinch, Great tit, Lesser black-backed gull, and Mute swan. We still managed a wonderful walk, making it all about our immediate surroundings rather than any ‘hidden by fog’ panoramas. We pottered along the coast from Church Bay where we saw Red-breasted merganser, Rock pipit, Peregrine falcon, and wait for it … my current bogey bird no more … the CHOUGH. Quite a few of ’em, just there, on the grass before me. And one perched on a bush too.

A member of the crow family, the Chough has a twee and girly call, a red curved bill, and a very different flight pattern to other corvids. Large and satisfied was my grin. Who needs visibility?!

Same view, different days.

Day three. A walk full of varieties. Starting and ending at South Stack. We heard Chiffchaff, saw Stonechat, Buzzard, Song thrush, Tufted duck, Rock dove, House martin, Cormorant,  Guillemot bobbing along on the water, and Razorbill. Oh dear. We watched a pair of Razorbill fly by, land on a rocky ledge amongst the nesting gulls and Cormorant. One jumped on top of the other to copulate, they immediately fell off the ledge together, never to be seen again (by us). What fast-paced, romantic tragedy.

Whilst all this drama was occurring, a handsome grey seal was fishing below. Sticking his snout up vertically out of the water occasionally. You see, I promised it wasn’t all about birds!

Scanning the horizon I got me some Manx shearwater. We also watched Fulmar courting cutely on the cliff fronts. And further round the coast, we sat and watched Guillemot and Razorbill city. From a distance too far to distinguish their bills, I initially struggled to tell the two apart. Until I realised that Razorbill are a very smart black, and Guillemot are actually dark chocolate brown. Occasionally they were all outdone by the enormity of the Great black-backed gull. And, just to steal the lime light, A Raven gave us a spectacular aerial courtship display.

Other birds along the way included Moorhen, Mistle thrush, Wren, and Shag. And on the way home before passing over the border back into Englandshire, we added Kestrel, Little grebe, and Shelduck.

I make that 55 species of bird, and one mammal!

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About Olivia N Masi

From art college drop-out, to office space-planner, to back-packer, to air stewardess, to brolly babe, to model agent, to wildlife conservationist. How? I've always believed in jumping at every opportunity that comes my way. This has taken me along some bizarre career paths. None of which I regret. I have been to amazing places and met fascinating people. And having worked in the motor sport industry I've sadly experienced too many beloved friends take one adrenalin step too many. I think of them always. I've hung out with pop-stars, sports personalities, and millionaires. I reached a point when nothing but VIP would do. And then something happened. My pops passed away and I felt the need to reconnect with my Italian side. Whilst in Italy, I learnt to be resourceful, to recycle everything, to listen to the valley, to grow my own veg, to catch and tame feral cats, and to follow my heart. My heart led me to a desire to save this beautiful Earth, and all the wonderful life upon it. And so I read, and then I studied with the Open University. I suddenly found myself accepted on a BSc in Wildlife Conservation, having left school with pitiful qualifications. So here I am. A qualified Wildlife Conservationist. A scientist I suppose. I love nothing more than to listen to birdsong, and watch, learn and photograph wildlife. So here is to me getting the perfect job where I can contribute to saving one of Earth's beautiful species. Do I miss the glamour of the old life? The VIP lifestyle? The petrol-head adrenalin? The buzz of being a successful business owner? Only occasionally. Though it seems more like the distant dreams of a previous life.
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