Saturday, July 19, 2014

Wales?!?!

Did I mention that I rented a car for the 2 days? It was a harrowing experience driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Did I mention that the car was a manual transmission? So, not only did I have to drive on the wrong side of the road but I had to change gears using my left hand. It is a wonder that no one was hurt. I did pretty good - especially in traffic since I could just follow along. It was only in the countryside that I had to really concentrate on where to point the car when coming around a corner or "roundabout".

On the "Motorway"
My Birding Pal, Rachel must be a glutton for punishment because after spending the entire day with me on Friday, she agreed to take me out to the coast on Saturday . I think it's that British politeness that is bred into her. I had already researched a place called Dee Estuary and that is exactly where Rachel suggested that we go.

The Dee Estuary looks like Delaware Bay on a map. It is a wide Bay that dumps the River Dee into the Irish Sea. When we arrived at the Point of Ayr, it reminded me of Cape May Point. In fact, we parked in a parking lot that could have been Sunset Beach (sans the concrete ship).  It even had a lighthouse and an ice cream parlor.  The only difference is that the Point of Ayr is in Wales! And I thought the best thing in Wales was Tom Jones (even I think he's sexy).

Out on the beach, we didn't see many birds. I was expecting some sea ducks or loons or something. We saw a few gulls and a few shorebirds until we came around the point. Then we were greeted by hundreds of Oystercatchers sitting on a sandbar. Behind them, in the grassy area were about a hundred Black-tailed Godwits and Curlews too. Thank goodness Rachel brought her scope!

Oystercatchers - Point of Ayr
Oystercatcher in flight
We also got to see some other birds on the beach like this Pied Wagtail. Wagtails really do wag their tails a lot which makes them easy to see and identify.

Pied Wagtail
This Ringed Plover looks a lot like our Semipalmated Plover.

Ringed Plover
I had to touch the Irish Sea. My Father's Father was aboard one of the ships (Lusitania?) that was sunk by a U-Boat in WWI just off the Irish coast. He was rescued by a fishing boat and spent 3 months in Ireland recuperating. The water was surprisingly warm.

Linda and the Irish Sea
We left the beach and headed to Burton-Mere Wetlands in hopes of some other shorebirds. We were very successful. We saw a few Red Shanks, Spotted Red Shanks, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, and Ruffs plus more Black-tailed Godwits. No photos. The birds were too far away and the day was too overcast for any of the photos to be presentable here.

The Brits do a lot of birding in "hides" which are bird blinds. The hide at Burton-Mere is nicer than our shore house! It has huge glass windows to allow viewing the main impoundment in comfort. The hard core birders lined up outside of the hide while trying to find the most obscure birds. Rachel and I struck up a conversation with a few of them. Of course, my accent gave me away as a tourist. The guys asked me about my trip and I casually told them that one of my target birds was a Little Owl. They looked at each other and then looked back at us and then looked at each other and looked at us again. OK, what gives? Turns out that there was a Little Owl sitting in a tree at the end of the path. NO SHIT!?!?

Little Owl
It made my day! Of course, all of the other birds were awesome but the owl was a treat. Rachel was a doll. The guys were terrific. Oh, and I was in Wales for Christ sake. A good day all around.



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