Seabird colonies in North Wales are quietening as the breeding season draws to a close. I visit Rhos Point, hoping to find Sandwich Terns before they leave our shores, perhaps some with coloured leg rings that indicate their origin. I arrive soon after the sun rises, turning the brown kelp a deep amber. The ribbons form waves between rocks encrusted with barnacles, among which Ringed Plovers huddle, their feathers mimicking the stones. They appear to sleep, but one eye is alert to an overhead Peregrine.
Curlews look up too, twisting their heads to probe for a small crab. Or a large crab. Their rolling whistle, the Cri'r Gylfinir, connects this place to the hills from which they've come: farms in Hiraethog or the Pennines perhaps, or the plains of northern Germany or peatbogs of Finland.
A Turnstone pushes over a pebble in search of a morsel. Another splashes in a rockpool to clean his rusty orange, black and white plumage, briefly creating an arc of silver sparkles. A brush-up after the long haul from Greenland. At the top of the beach, Starlings move as one, scrabbling over the decaying seaweed pushed here by last winter's storms. They forage for sandflies, as does a young Pied Wagtail that picks nervously amid the throng.
As the tide falls, Sandwich Terns call across the bay and settle on emerging rocks, each finding its place after a light jostle. I check their legs while they preen. No rings on these, but no matter. I'm just grateful to see them. They are survivors of a journey that brought them from South Africa in spring and of bird flu that has ravaged their number.
Farther out, a few Gannets pass. No other seabirds today, although others saw more at the weekend: several Arctic Skuas passed Bull Bay, Storm Petrel and Arctic Skua off Criccieth, and Grey Phalarope and Cory’s Shearwater were seen from Bardsey. But these were nothing compared to remarkable counts in Cornwall where 6,500 Cory’s Shearwaters were seen from a single headland on Sunday.
Back at Rhos Point, early morning runners and dog walkers wish me a good day. It is. My perfect way to start a day.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales.