Advent: December 4th

Yet again I couldn’t post the photo on the day! I’m back home now and so am posting the 4th and 5th together.

It’s been glorious on the coast over the past weekend. Quite a bit of wintery sun as well as cold and crisp. So crisp in fact that the past 2 days we’ve had a sharp frost. I’ve been told numerous times both by my father and by people who live there that they almost never get frosts on the coast in Anglesey. Well this is the first time I’ve been there in December  … and of the four mornings we had frosts on two of them!! Perhaps it was a special treat to make me feel at home.

We had our annual sibling gathering which is why we were at the seaside in winter. My older brothers and I heading back like migrating birds from around the world to the very same spot we spent summers as children. I feel very ignorant about birdlife but the more time I spend there, the more fascinated I become by the feathered occupants of the land, sea and shore. And it’s certainly a bird watchers paradise.

After Sunday lunch two of my brothers headed off for train and car journeys back to their families and jobs and my oldest brother and I went for a long afternoon walk along the shore to the part of the village where our Great Grandfather had spent the last years of his life during and after the Second World War. The topography is slightly different and we’d kayaked over to these pebbly little coves back in August when my brother was last in the UK with his young family. I suddenly spotted something white that wasn’t a gull wading around in the water. I pointed it out to him and we watched from the seawall as it waded and dibbled in the seaweed. I racked my brains for possible names of wading birds, it just didn’t fit with any of the ones that I knew or could think of. Whilst we were chucking names around my brother pointed out a larger grey lump on the side we’d just walked from and we peered a bit harder and realised that was a heron standing motionless in the icy still sea. It took off and flapped elegantly off into the late afternoon sun sinking towards the horizon leaving us with his small white friend.

Later back at the cottage, we hunted through our Great Uncle’s elderly book of British Birds to no avail. In the end a slight boost in the intermittent mobile signal allowed my brother to find a photo on his phone and held it out to me and the name “egret” popped into my head at the same time as he said it. It was a Little Egret apparently. The reasons we had never seen it before is that they weren’t around in this area when we were children, they first started increasing in the UK in the late 80s and started breeding on the South coast in the mid 90s. They’re starting to breed further north up into Wales but they’re more common when overwintering birds arrive from Europe and boost the numbers significantly. We only ever visited in summer or autumn for family holidays so my brother and I were both really rather pleased to have seen this less usual water bird and it was nice to see it wading with its more common big brother the Heron too.

I only had my poor quality camera phone and it doesn’t zoom well either so you’ll have to squint to see my little French heron pal here! But I thought it was interesting to add into the Advent photos thread even if the image isn’t great.

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