A Bird Race In Terrible Weather Turns Up An Amazing Array Of Birds 28 March 2021

Black Grouse May 2016 6

What a way to start a Bird Race - lekking Black Grouse just one of THE birds to see in the UK.

Three of our great friends Levi, probably the keenest young birder on the planet, his dad Tom and local mad keen patch birder Marc planned a Bird Race for 28th March 2021. Unfortunately Sunday 28th March 2021 turned out to be a terrible day for weather with gale force winds and often torrential rain but unduanted, and driven on by Levi's boundless enthusiasm the three somehow kept going all day! A bird race is a given time often a day where birdwatchers try and see as many species of birds on that day it is, usually, great fun and a wonderful way to appreciate the amazing variety of birds near home. We are so lucky here in North Wales that we have so many habitats in a fairly small area and this diversity of landscapes gives an outstanding mix of bird species. In this guest blog young Levi gives his account of the day...

5:30 am: Me and my dad were at Marc’s house, ready to see some birds. Our first stop would be to see both grouse species. At 7am, we were at a Black Grouse lek. Around 15 Black Grouse were walking around flashing their white under-tails! We watched them for 15 minutes or so and then carried on to look for Red Grouse.

Levi's photo of a Red Grouse taken during the bird race.

Eventually, after about 10 minutes of getting very wet, a Red Grouse finally appeared and we had great views! We drove off in our separate cars down the valley, where an unexpected bird was found...

We reached the bottom of the valley and started looking for birds. But then, we spotted two Mandarins swimming down the river!

Levi's photo of a Great Egret taken during the bird race.

Our next stop was Shotton, a place where you can overlook Burton Mere from North Wales. Great White Egret and Marsh Harrier showed well, and 2 Cetti’s Warblers were singing! Also, many other birds like Shoveler, Wigeon, Fieldfare and Reed Bunting were seen at this amazing place!

Levi's photo of a Peregrine Flacon taken during the bird race.

Next up was Flint Castle, where we saw birds like Curlew, Oystercatcher, Knot and Peregrine. We searched for Twite there too but there were only a couple of Linnets on the saltmarsh.

Levi's photo of a juvenile Iceland Gull taken during the bird race.

Next was Brickfield Ponds at Rhyl, where Iceland Gull and Scaup were being seen regularly. Sure enough, a Scaup was sat on the water at the far side of the pond, while the Iceland Gull flew over our flatbreads. For a second, we thought it was going to land but the Mallards got to the flatbreads first.

And on we went to Horton’s Nose where we saw Turnstone, Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Wheatear but unfortunately no sign of the regularly seen Snow Bunting. We now had 76 species, beating our January bird race before lunch! Could we get to our target of 100?

Levi's photo of a Lapland Bunting taken during the bird race.

After lunch and on to the Great Orme for the auks and seabirds. Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Gannet and Rock Pipit were enjoyed but no sign of the hoped for Black Guillemot. Up onto the top and into the blasting wind where Lapland Bunting was seen.

Levi's photo of Little Grebes at RSPB Conwy taken during the bird race.

Then to Glan Conwy where we could overlook the RSPB reserve. Black-tailed Godwit, Sand Martin and Little Grebe were ticked there.

Then off to the Spinnies (Aber Ogwen) but on the way, I realised that I’d forgotten to tick some birds on the list! We were now on 98 species!! We told Marc and Dunnock was soon ticked. One more left! Unfortunately, the weather turned on us at the last second! Oh no!! After half an hour of searching for the last bird, we took off to Aber to try for Dipper but the water was flowing too fast. We had to call it a day, but 99 species was amazing for the conditions that we were in! So that was the end to a fantastic bird race that I will never forget!!

Also, if you want to see more about our amazing bird day, go to my YouTube channel Birding with Levi:


Do check out Levi's You Tube channel for lots more great birding content. Many thanks for writing up the Bird Race and congratulations on such a huge total in awful weather! North Wales really is a wonderful place to enjoy lots of birds!

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