Each activity brings its own unique perspective on the same landscape. A family interested in the ‘Beach Supper’ wait at the beach car park at 6:00 PM on a recent, rarely fine evening. Having introduced ourselves and the planned evening, we set off up the beach towards the estuary, breakwater and descending sun.
Low tide, and at the estuary mouth, below the barnacled boulder shore lay two great banks of Mussels and gravel, one marked by a red-topped estuary marker stanchion. Despite our concentration selecting best Mussels amongst thousands, Oystercatchers make themselves heard, fussing along the shore, awaiting our departure. Diminutive peeping calls reveal first one then eight mottled Turnstones only yards away at the stanchion base, two in striking, white, paint-spattered breeding plumage, all moving quietly and reluctantly between boulders on short orange legs. Amongst them, a tiny, white, blacked-legged wader, half their size, taking every opportunity to roost, black bill tucked under wing. No binoculars required: all either tired from migration or unfamiliar with man.
As we gather then clean mussels, further calls and movements become apparent: two Curlew move between bronze kelp covered boulders, another prospecting the estuary shore in low, heavy flight. Urgent ‘pee, pee, pee, pee’ high over the estuary mouth: familiar long-billed Curlew silhouette, call and lighter build denoting another Whimbrel moving south. Sandwich Terns bleat drily, passing between estuary and bay; soft ‘tu-leep’ notes and buzzing calls drift along the shore from Ringed Plover and Dunlin respectively as a small mixed flock hurtles along the shore or sweeps low and fast out to sea.
As supper is made and enjoyed, seasoned with wood smoke, the sun burns an orange path across the bay before extinguished behind the low silhouette of the Lleyn Peninsula dying light leaving only liquid, wild calls along the shore.
Wildlife Wales Activities: www.wildlife-wales.co.uk