A Birthday Birdwatching Day Out With Alan And Anne In North Wales 7 July 2020

A superb female Hen Harrier - a perfect birthday present - photo Frank Wildman.

We met up with great friends Alan and Anne at the entrance to RSPB Conwy for a great day out as part of Alan’s birthday celebrations, first time we have seen them since lockdown.

Overlooking the Conwy Estuary the tide was a long way out but still birds to see here. Lots of Little Egrets were feeding in the low tide channels out on the estuary and we were pleased to see that the two Great Egrets we had seen the previous day were still on the estuary though again distant. This is where a really good telescope comes in very useful indeed and through the telescope we could see the large yellow dagger-like bill. In the main river channel we were surprised to see a flock of thirteen Goosander a high count for this location. We also enjoyed watching Curlews on the mudflats here also wonderful to watch these super long-billed waders.

We then headed south into the hills of Snowdonia and we were a bit worried about the low clouds tumbling over the ridges would see anything? But as is often the way best to stick to plan “A” and we climbed higher and higher. Luckily as we climbed so the clouds rolled back and revealed the stunning mountain scenery. Meadow Pipits and a huge flock of Linnets flew up from the rough ground left of the track and we mused about the possibility of a bird of prey in the area at that moment a Sparrowhawk appeared! This was quickly followed by a hovering Kestrel and lovely views of Stonechats right by the track.

Parking at the end of the track we headed off for a walk through this amazing wild landscape with mountains all around. It was a bit windy and there were not many birds about, a few more Meadow Pipits, more Stonechats and a Common Buzzard drifted over a ridge. Then Alan spotted another raptor off to our right a female Hen Harrier!! Wow what a fantastic bird and pretty close to allowing us a fantastic view of this rare bird. The Hen Harrier drifted quite high over the valley and we all watched spell-bound to see a Hen Harrier in this magnificent landscape was just the perfect birthday present for Alan and we were all so thrilled to see it. The female harrier moved right across the valley and then slipped over the ridge and was gone leaving us elated and thrilled, that is what Hen Harriers can do for us. How terribly sad that so many of these beautiful special birds are killed illegally on Driven Grouse Moors.

Whinchat male May 2015
A family of Whinchats was wonderful to see alongside the track.

As we walked back towards the car a juvenile Peregrine circled over the towering cliffs, more views of Kestrels and another Common Buzzard. We also stopped to watch a male Reed Bunting on a small dead bush in the rough grassland and heather. As we drove back down the track we came across a family of Whinchats on a fence and had super views of these beautiful migrant birds and nice to be able to compare them with Stonechats right alongside.

Back down in the Conwy Valley we were lucky indeed to “jam” in on a soaring Goshawk over the forested hillsides a real wow moment. We then enjoyed a lovely lunch, thanks so much Anne, and even here we watched Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk – the birdwatching never stops.

Wheatears are always wonderful to see up in the hills of Snowdonia.

After lunch we headed back into the mountains but the wind had picked up and we didn’t see many birds though some lovely Wheatears were great to watch. So time for a change of habitat, we drove over to the Isle of Anglesey and soon reached the RSPB reserve at Cors Ddyga where we walked to the river and back. More Stonechats here and we watched them two Common Whitethroats moved through the same bushes in the afternoon sunshine. The pools on the right of the track held plenty of Mallards and Greylag Geese and amongst them we watched Teal feeding in the shallow waters. A real surprise here was a Common Snipe flying up from the marsh and then dropping down into the wet grassland. Later two more Common Snipe flew over and dropped in making us wonder how many more were in these grasslands? A single breeding plumaged Black-tailed Godwit fed with Lapwings and so lovely to see birds feeding on this “new” man-made habitat, the RSPB doing a great job here. A Sedge Warbler popped up alongside us in the ditch on our right and provided wonderful views of this often hard to see bird. The Sedge Warbler held a bright green grasshopper in its bill so perhaps was still feeding young?

It had been a really fun day and great to help Alan celebrate his birthday and we look forward to our next meeting up to enjoy lots more birds.

We are so lucky to have so many species and habitats within easy reach here in North Wales, and once the world returns to normal, we would love you to join us for one of our Best of North Wales Birdwatching Trips days out. We expect to enjoy a lot of birds during these relaxed pace tours and we can tailor make the day to suit you.

We would love you to join us on our Birdwatching Trips in the future just drop us a line to arrange a custom tour and please see our tours pages for set departure trips. If you have any questions at all please fire away here….


We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds in beautiful places with you soon!

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