Follow by Email

Monday, 22 June 2009

Holiday in North Wales pays off for both Essex birder and leading lister Billy Simpson

At around 1430 hours on Saturday afternoon, a visiting Essex birder, on holiday with his family, relocated the ROYAL TERN first discovered by windsurfing RSPB survey worker Dave Lamacraft on Monday 15 June (and previously seen by a handful of observers in County Cork). The bird was flying up and down the sandy beach at Llandudno and afforded excellent views for at least an hour. This information was 'phoned in to BirdGuides and at just after 1540 hours, local birder Alan Davies independently located the bird in the bay and immediately updated LGRE and Rare Bird Alert.

The tide was on the way in and for the next two hours, the bird commuted between the main bay at Llandudno and the sea off of the West Shore, often taking the short route by flying west over the hotels and shops rather than flying around the Great Orme headland. It afforded excellent views, often fishing along the shoreline, allowing photographers like Chris Galvin and Steve Young ample opportunities.

Within minutes of it reappearing, several hundred birders were on their way to Llandudno and those living within a 130-mile radius were able to make it in time before it departed, including Billy Simpson (the highest ranking lister to connect so far), Chris Batty, Stuart Piner, Nick Smith, Steve Nuttall and Phil Jones. In fact by 1800 hours, some 86 birders had successfully made it, much to their relief.

After making a complete sweep of the main bay just after 1800 hours, it suddenly flew off strongly out to sea and disappeared northeastwards out and past the Great Orme at 1609. Several birders including Derbyshire's Neil Bostock and Worcestershire's Steve Whitehouse arrived minutes later but despite frantic searching by upwards of 130 birders between then and when darkness fell at 2200, the bird was not reliably seen again.

Large numbers of birders remained on site overnight and began searching from 0330 hours next morning (at dawn). Their numbers were swollen by further arrivals during the day and over the next high tide, the entire coast west to Foryd Bay was checked without success by up to 300 birders. Apart from a single Roseate Tern and up to 80 Sandwich Terns, the target bird was not relocated and there has been no reliable sightings of the Royal Tern to date.

Just where will this mega-rare make its next appearance.......and when?