Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Bank holiday weekend

Just a quick post with a few photos from a varied weekend away from London... a bit of socialising, a bit of birding, and a bit of rather tasty scenery.

So, we started off on Friday night, travelling up to see John and Lib near Stoke. They've very kindly asked me to be one of their second child's moral guardians, so a trip to meet Iris was long overdue. Saturday saw a trip to the Alton Towers water park - good fun - followed by a brief walk in Dimmingsdale (lovely spot, with singing Pied Fly and Redstart, but no Wood Warbler), and then we headed out for a meal and trip to the cinema. Suzanne took the only photos of the day... here's a baby for everyone to coo over:

Oh, was that not what you expected? Sorry.

Next day after breakfast, we started with a walk at Biddulph Grange - a lovely area of woodland and managed gardens.

Now I believe that developing an enthusiasm for natural history is definitely within my remit as moral guardian. Iris is still a little young for this, but I took the opportunity to get some practice in, trying to convince Albert of the joys of birdwatching. Oddly, I don't think he was convinced...

After saying goodbye to John and Lib, we headed over to Anglesey, giving Tom a lift over to the ferry to Dublin. Weather was glorious by now, and the views across towards Beaumaris and Puffin Island were superb. Having got ferry tickets sorted, we popped in to South Stack for an hour - I found several Chough and a single Puffin pretty quickly, while Tom ticked off a few passing yachts (and the odd auk during boat-less moments). Maybe I should take up this branch of seawatching for those slack days at Porthgwarra or Sheringham, hmmmm..... Anyway, it was all rather scenically pleasing on various scales:

Incidentally, Suzanne and I have resolved to buy a macro lens for the DSLR - there are just too many flowers / butterflies / dragonflies / bugs / other small things that we want to photograph well. Plus Suzanne has said that I could leave her taking photos for hours if she had one... could be useful in Norfolk in the autumn! ;) Watch this space, anyway.

After dropping Tom off, we popped down the road to Holyhead Fish Harbour, and found one of these rather handsome black and white birds bobbing about... What could it be?

Driving back east, the views of Snowdonia were stunning, absolutely crystal clear. This shot was taken from Beaumaris, but I wish we'd taken more - I've never seen the area in such good light. (Click to enlarge this, and indeed any other photos on this site)

We found a decent campsite near Bangor, and then got a great meal at the Black Boy inn in Caernarfon - a proper pub, with proper beer (courtesy of the Purple Moose brewery) and proper food. Great stuff - recommended.

Next day dawned with clear skies again, and this time we headed southwest, towards the Lleyn peninsula - somewhere I'd never visited. Frustratingly, as as approached the headland at Uwchmynydd (try saying that after some Purple Moose... Mooses... Meese... whatever), the cloud rolled in off the sea. No chance of scenic views over Bardsey or any seawatching. Hmmph. The cloud was still patchy back at Aberdaron, but cleared now and again to reveal lovely views:

On the way back to Suzanne's family in Glyn Ceiriog, we spent a moment or two at the Afon Glaslyn Osprey watchpoint, near Porthmadog. Unless you've never seen an Osprey, or are absolutely desperate to see one in Wales, I wouldn't bother with this if I were you - the nest is incredibly distant, so views are poor even with a good scope. Moving quickly on, we drove through some more cracking scenery... though this stiched-together panorama is a bit of a failed experiment. Note to self - fix aperture to be constant for all the shots! I'm quite impressed with the free software that joined the various photos together, though - worth another go sometime.

From Suzanne's place, I then headed back home... via a slight detour to Wicken Fen. Well, it's almost on the way, isn't it? Avoiding traffic on the M1, or so I told myself. Coincidentally, there was a Squacco Heron there, as well... though not close enough for good photos.

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