A Day Highlighting Just What A Wonderful Area For Birds North Wales Is

A wonderful male Ring Ouzel was a great addition to our 2021 year list - library photo.

On the 31st March we headed out early and up on to the moors and almost at once saw the main reason we had come to this spot, stunning Black Grouse! These are totally beautiful and amazing birds and we consider them one of THE best birds anywhere! The morning sunshine showed that these wonderful birds are far from black, their necks are royal blue when the sun catches them and the red “comb” over the eye is scarlet and the white under-tails glow in the perfect light – just wonderful! Add to this beauty their amazing calls and you have a real bird spectacle.

Nearby we had amazing close up views of Red Grouse and it was wonderful to hear their “go-back, go-back” calls in the still morning air. The Red Grouse doesn’t lek like the black but instead the male flies up above the heather and then glides back down calling, looks a little like someone has thrown a chicken into the air! But still wonderful birds to see up close in the glorious spring sunshine.

A real surprise next when a Ring Ouzel flew across the heather a wonderful new bird for our 2021 list. We first had brief views but luckily a little later we re-found this handsome male in the same area and had super frame filling views in the Leica telescopes, can’t beat a bird that looks like a cross between a blackbird and a vicar!

Avocet pair North Cave 1

Avocets are always a joy to see and we are so lucky to have them in view from Wales - library photo.

Dropping down off the moors we called in at a regular haunt, a farm shop for second breakfast, then off to the Dee Estuary. COVID-19 restrictions mean we can’t cross the border into England but luckily a good part of RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands is visible from the Welsh side of the border. Here we enjoyed our first Avocets of the year, watched a male Marsh Harrier hunting over the reed-beds and marvelled at the sight and sound of hundreds of Pink-footed Geese lifting off the Shotwick Fields and heading out to the adjacent Dee Estuary. A Cetti’s Warbler actually showed itself in the sunshine, so often this species is heard only. A pair of Pintail were on the flooded grassland along with Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler and also Black-tailed Godwits, Common Redshank and Northern Lapwing so much to see and all in perfect weather.

Next stop was Flint Castle on the west side of the Dee Estuary where we were very lucky to see four Twite on the edge of the saltmarsh. Not very many birds here due to the very high tide flooding right up to the castle walls – not often we see that. A first-winter Mediterranean Gull was loafing on the calm waters another nice addition to our growing day list.

A short drive to the Point of Ayr near the mouth of the Dee Estuary where we overlooked an area of wet fields, a mitigation area when they built the nearby gas terminal, but not many birds here. Three Black-tailed Godwits and two Curlew here in the fields - surprisingly few waders given the very tide on the adjacent estuary. Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall were on the pools and two Great black backed Gulls were roosting with a gang of Herring Gulls.

The juvenile Iceland Gull at Rhyl really showed off for us in the sunshine.

Just to the east we returned to Rhyl and the Brickfields Park and could see one gull on top of a lamp post, could it be? Yes it could, juvenile Iceland Gull posing in the sunshine just like that, brilliant. After admiring this rare visitor on its lofty perch we threw some bread into the adjacent lake and down came the Iceland Gull. We enjoyed just the best views possible as this pale coffee coloured rarity swooped down and took the food, what a thrilling encounter. A pair of Great Crested Grebes were on the lake looking beautiful in their breeding plumage.

A little further east along the North Wales coast and Llanddulas but the conditions were hazy offshore we could see thousands of Common Scoter but difficult to make out detail. We did add Red-throated Diver and Sandwich Tern to the day list along with the scoter.

Quick stop at the layby overlooking RSPB Conwy gave another boost to our impressive list with plenty of ducks and a nice bonus Spotted Redshank on one of the islands in the lagoons. A single Barn Swallow flew south over the reserve the only hirundine we saw all day rather surprisingly.

With the afternoon drawing to a close just time for a quick look at the local patch before calling it a day. At Llandudno Pier we quickly added the hoped for Ruddy Turnstones and it was lovely to see a pair of Black Guillemots on the sea in the bay here along with several Shags all new. On the cliffs of the Great Orme we quickly added Peregrine, Fulmar and Rock Pipit and near the lighthouse Common Guillemot, Razorbill and lots of Kittiwakes.

This beautiful Snow Bunting showed off on the cairn, Great Orme, Llandudno.

Up onto the limestone pavement area and a pair of Red-billed Chough showed off along with Stonechats and Northern Wheatears. Near the cairn movement caught our eye and a beautiful Snow Bunting was moving just ahead us. This lovely visitor from the Arctic hopped up onto the rocks of the cairn as if to say “look at me” and we did and took lots of photographs! On the sea below we could make out seven Common Eider yet another new bird for this busy day. A few yards away from the Snow Bunting we found a Lapland Bunting, one of up to five birds present on the headland over the last few weeks. We settled down and watched this lovely rarity in the late afternoon sun for ages such a confiding and delightful bird. What a wonderful end to a day filled with great birds in beautiful places, back home we counted up our day list and were pleasantly surprised to total 94 species!

North Wales really is a wonderful place to enjoy so many birds in so many habitats with stunning scenery come and see.

This wonderful Lapland Bunting fed just a few yards from us a joy to watch.

Of course a wonderful way to see more birds is to join one of our Birdwatching Trips and learn a lot about the birds you are enjoying too. We have tours suitable for all from beginners to experienced birders that are seeking particular species. Just drop us a line here and we can arrange a perfect custom tour for you!


We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds with you as soon as it is safe.

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