Monday, April 8, 2019


We visited so many wonderful places in Wales thanks to friends Bonnie and Steve. One of my absolute favorite places that Steve took me to bird was Holyhead(pronounced Holly head).  

Purple Sandpiper
All I know about Holyhead is that it's a major sea port serving Ireland and Wales. There's a cool looking lighthouse that attracts a lot of people during the summer months. They walk down the stairs and cross the bridge to eat ice cream and then climb the stairs back up to the parking lot.  As a birder, I learned that this area is a natural breeding ground for several amazing birds like Razorbills, Common Murres and Atlantic Puffins. 

It is notable to mention that there are many great birding hotspots along the way to Holyhead. When Steve mentioned our itinerary for the day, I was excited.  I love ocean birding.  The rocky coastal area was full of fantastic sea life.  In a future post, I'll focus more on those things but for now, let's enjoy the amazing world of Holyhead. It's the furthest point you can go in Wales before hitting the ocean waters to Ireland. 

Northern Gannet
My first lifer was the Northern Gannet.  I was SUPER thrilled to finally see this bird.  What a beauty!

Once we reached Holyhead, I didn't know what to expect.  It was INCREDIBLE!  We walked down the steep stone stairs into the incredible secret world of Razorbills. Steve told me to gaze through the stone hole.  What I saw blew me away!

Little did I know but on this day I would get stellar views on one of my most anticipated lifers, the Razorbills. Observing these birds come alive from the pages of my bird guide was a total high. 

They were actively flying in and out of their sea cliff homes pairing up and preparing for the breeding season. 

These birds can be found along the Atlantic coast of the United States in places like Maine. This summer we'll get up close and personal with them again on Machias Seal Island with Ms. Kathie Brown. They are one of my focus birds this year.

Once Steve saw that I was ready to move on with more observations, he took me further down the stairs to Mordor:) 

We went to the furthest point before reaching the locked sky bridge.  To the left of the bridge, I could see more Razorbills and ........Common Murres!  They call them Guillemots. So I was a bit confused at first, but I began to mentally translate their Guillemots, Goosanders and Divers into my American equivalents. 

Take a closer look above and you'll find the Common Murres/Guillemots to the left and bottom of the picture. 

Black-headed Gulls
All around the birding world of Wales, we could hear and see other coastal birds like the Red-billed Chough below. 

This is one amazing bird.  We saw them along coastal areas near sea cliffs and rocky shores that always had some grassy areas. 

There was a gift shop nearby and so we stopped by and I did some card shopping. One could also get coffee or tea here.  And more ice cream. 

Black Guillemot
Being along the ocean is a treat, especially when I don't have a lot of large water areas around the Tucson area to bird:)

The gray skies were heavy.  The sea mist was refreshing. And I tried to memorize all of the little details like the ocean smells or new landscape views that seemed to be straight out of a wonderful foreign film.  It was really quite something to experience.  

I work and I work.  Every moment of my life is planned.  Currently, we're doing a survey for New Mexico and will be heading to Texas to find some new birds.  I do work as well.  This is the only week I have left before finals begin and then it's my nose to the grindstone as a teacher for the rest of April and May.  But even then, when I'm not in the classroom, we'll meet new friend Homer(from Florida) find our amazing Arizona birds.  And then our Tucson Audubon Birdathon with the Wrenegades begins as we raise money to help protect Southeastern Arizona's birds.  It's all a balancing act.  This post is dedicated to birder and naturalist Pete Moulton.  He passed away this last week and it was a shock.  He was a good man with a great big heart always helping others with ID's on their dragonflies and birds.  Pete was also an amazing photographer.  He will be missed.  Until next time.....


  1. A wonderful post and photos Chris. So hoping to visit South Stack myself this year. Great bird sightings - do hope I see Choughs too :)

    Very sorry to hear of the passing of Pete Moulton.

  2. Awesome looks for sure! I would love to see this place.


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