Saturday, 20 June 2009

A Royal day in Llandudno

I was at Burscough with Ray looking for slow worms when at about 3pm news broke that the Royal Tern which had been at Porthmadog last Monday was back, and this time was much closer, seen from the promenade at Llandudno. We had all of our birding gear in the car, but the tern had been very much hit and miss up to that point and we didn't really expect it to stay at Llandudno for very long. Still it was only a 90 minute drive so we decided to give it a go.

We set off without a lot of hope, and 10 minutes into the journey, we received the negative news we had expected: the tern had last been seen flying high and heading south west. Undeterred but a little depressed, we pressed on, and as we approached Colwyn Bay the news we had been praying for came through. The bird had been relocated at Llandudno, this time on the west shore. However, 10 minutes later we heard that it had disappeared again, so we decided to head for the north shore and the promenade.

We screeched to a halt and legged it out of the car towards two birders who were pointing out to sea - and there it was, a very pale looking tern, with dark shafts on its primaries, and a stonking great orange bill with a yellowish tip. The relief was incredible. This was the first Royal Tern in the UK for 10 years, only the fifth ever and most of the rest have been single observer or one day jobs.

It was now about 5:30pm, and we watched the bird at quite close range for about 30 minutes as it patrolled up and down the promenade, before finally flying away and disappearing around the Great Orme. It was never seen again. What a day, what an experience!

Unfortunately I'm not keeping a year list, but if I was I'd now be on 199 for 2009.

Edit: still not keeping a year list, but just found one I'd missed off so that makes the Royal Tern number 200!


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