A Damp Day Out In North Wales But Wonderful Birds Enjoyed 17 August 2020

Lackford Kingfisher 7

Don and Clive were keen to see a Kingfisher on their day out in North Wales.

We met our friend Don at the Princes Arms Hotel, Trefriw, where he and his friend Clive were staying for a few days. Clive was just getting into birdwatching and photograph and had come with a new camera to try out, Don is a life-long birder. The weather was not great with low cloud and drizzle so we changed plans, ditching the uplands, and headed north towards the coast where was brighter, slightly.

Lovely to enjoy great looks at Song Thrush at the church such lovely birds.

We made a short stop at Caerhun Church, a beautiful spot overlooking the Conwy River always plenty to see here. A family of Barn Swallows were lined up on the gutter of the church the juveniles begging for food, Clive took some lovely photos of these recently fledged chicks. On the river we watched a Goosander swimming upstream, plenty of gulls on the exposed mud banks, Grey Heron here too. Both Song and Mistle Thrush showed well in the churchyard and Don picked out a Stock Dove – good bird here.

Lapwing adult May 2015

Lapwing are such beautiful birds and we had super close views at RSPB Conwy.

A short drive took us to RSPB Conwy where the drizzle was heavier than we would have liked the hides remain closed sadly due to Covid 19 restrictions so we got a little damp. But there were plenty of birds to enjoy as we had timed our visit to coincide with high tide. Waders were the real stars of the show with a great selection present on the lagoons. First up was a beautiful male Lapwing feeding close to the viewing screen off the boardwalk and perfect for Clive to try out his camera again and such a wonderful subject. Also here we watched five Black-tailed Godwits feeding belly-deep in the lagoon. From the Tal-y-Fan hide, well the viewing area here, plenty of birds to enjoy including a big flock of roosting Common Redshank with smaller numbers of Oystercatchers and a lone Curlew. Careful scanning through the Redshanks paid off with a juvenile Knot, five Dunlin, a Common Sandpiper and a Common Ringed Plover all enjoyed. Loud calls drew our attention to three Sandwich Terns flying low over the lagoon – an unusual visitor to the reserve. From the Carneddau Hide, well screen next to, we had good views of Common Snipe and picked out a sleepy Spotted Redshank amongst a gang of Common Redshank.

With the rain coming down we headed off for the Great Orme at Llandudno and we were soon on the Marine Drive looking out over the calm sea. An Atlantic grey seal was in the sea close to the cliffs and as we watched it we saw a lovely juvenile Mediterranean Gull flew right below us and enjoyed super views as it flew back and forth feeding. A single Manx Shearwater flew low west over the flat calm water a surprise in the calm conditions. Looking up we saw a juvenile Peregrine Falcon tearing over the cliff top and mock-attacking passing Herring Gulls wonderful to watch. A male Stonechat posed on bracken close to us and made for a lovely photo. Further around the headland we stopped at the Rest and Be Thankful Café in the hope of an early lunch but they were only offering drinks and cakes. But we did enjoy super looks at both Rock and Meadow Pipits here and a group of six Fulmars on the sea below the cliffs. As we were enjoying these we noticed two birdwatchers on a hill not far away looking through telescopes, worth popping over to see what they were watching, a Chough!

We headed over to Conwy in search of lunch and tried the Conwy Marina, we had a real shock the big car park was just about full and folks were queueing to get in the pub. North Wales is amazingly busy at the moment that is for sure we took a deep breath and joined the queue in the rain. Luckily we didn’t have to wait that long and once in the service was very fast, we had drinks quickly followed by plates of Fish and Chips, many thanks to Clive for treating us all.

We headed west along the coast to Llanfairfechan and had just commented on the rain almost stopping when it came on even heavier. Luckily there is a shelter here on the front and we could watch birds from here out of the rain. Lots of Oystercatchers were on the beach right in front of us and Ruth picked out lovely Turnstones amongst them. Sandwich Terns were also on the beach here including juvenile birds begging to be fed. Offshore two Common Terns patrolled up and down close to the beach, Great crested Grebes were further out and even further out again a few Gannets were just about visible.

Last stop of the day was at Aber Ogwen as both Don and Clive had asked would it be possible to see a Kingfisher? We walked around to the hide that overlooks the pool and the adjacent estuary and scanned the pool, no Kingfisher but lovely views of Little Grebes. On the estuary side we added Shelduck, Common Eider, Greenshanks and the unusual summering Whooper Swan to our impressive day list of birds. Then Clive spotted it a Kingfisher! Wow! This tiny gem of a bird flew in and landed on a dead log on the left of the pool and sat there, and sat there, just wonderful to be able to soak up the views of this so beautiful bird. Through the Leica telescope we could see every tiny detail of this so colourful bird, even its tiny coral-red feet. What a wonderful end to a great day full of wonderful birds.

We drove back to the Princes Arms Hotel through the mountains of Snowdonia and had a few glimpses of the peaks when the clouds allowed. Back at the hotel we were thrilled to see another Kingfisher on the Conwy River from the car park! Many thanks to Don and Clive for their great company and good cheer on a damp day, we had enjoyed 83 species of birds together.

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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