When the Pen y Clip Tunnel was built for the A55, the spoil was dumped on the coast at Morfa Madryn and neighbouring Glan y Môr Elias. From this 1990’s building site, a disturbance-free reserve has been created for birds to feed, rest and breed on the marshy fields and shallow lagoons. The Morfa Madryn Nature Reserve attracts a good variety of birds all-year round. In winter it is best known for wildfowl such as Widgeon, Mallard, Teal and Red-breasted Merganser and waders such as Curlew, Lapwing and Oystercatcher. In summer it is an important site for breeding Little Ringed Plover and Lapwing. High tide brings good views of the Oystercatcher roost on the shingle spit at Glan y Môr Elias.
Much of the ecological importance of Morfa Madryn is due to its proximity to the internationally important Traeth Lafan. 2500 hectares of intertidal mud and sand, from Bangor to Llanfairfechan and Beaumaris, are exposed at low tide. In past centuries people and their livestock would walk across the Traeth Lafan from Abergwyngregyn to Beaumaris; being ferried across the channel near the Anglesey shore, and guided back to Abergwyngregyn in foggy weather by the tolling church bell. The ferry operated from 1292 but this perilous journey became redundant after construction of Telford’s Menai Suspension Bridge and the ferry ceased in 1830.
Now Traeth Lafan is left to the birds: Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Knot, Red-breasted Merganser and Gannets when the tide is in. In autumn and winter Traeth Lafan supports the biggest population of moulting Great Crested Grebes in Britain, together with other Grebes, rare Divers and Golden-eye. Some 5,000 Oystercatchers may be here in winter!
Near the entrance of the Nature Reserve, is a small picnic area and recently planted woodland. Ample free car parking is available at the car park on the Llanfairfechan promenade, or in the town itself.