A Second Day Out In North Wales With Nick And More Great Birds Enjoyed

Turnstone Bangor 2

Turnstones are wonderful birds and so lucky to have so close to home here in Llandudno.

After a great day out on Anglesey two days ago Alan met Nick again on the 15th of December and a few minutes later they were on the Great Orme here in Llandudno. First stop by the pier allowed wonderful close views of a flock of Turnstones.

A very short drive and literally as they stepped out of the car two Peregrine Falcons swept overhead along the cliff face, wow! These fantastic raptors had timed their return to the cliffs perfectly, the larger female was carrying prey and the smaller male flew just behind her calling loudly. Both the birds of prey landed on the cliff but out of sight though we could still here the male calling, presumably begging to share the female’s breakfast?

Superb views of Fulmars on the Great Orme at Llandudno they are just superb fliers.

It was great watching Fulmars coming and going to the cliffs and landing on the ledges giving their laughing calls. Turning to look at the sea there were at least five Red-throated Divers on the calm sea and two of these lovely birds were really close to the cliffs. It was exceptional to enjoy such good views of these winter visitors, so often far out on the sea, and through the scopes every feather detail could be seen. It was also surprising to see a good number of Common Guillemots on the sea recently we have seen mostly Razorbills off the headland even more of a surprise was to see most of these auks were in full breeding plumage! Early or late? We guess they have acquired their breeding plumage early? Just one Razorbill was picked out along with lots of Shags but unusually not one Cormorant on the sea. A harbour porpoise showed briefly and two Atlantic grey seals bobbed about fairly close to the rocks. A flock of eleven Red-billed Chough swept along the cliffs and at one point were in view at the same time as a Peregrine Falcon that had moved into view on the skyline – fantastic to see! A pair of Raven flew so close the whoosh from their huge wings was easily heard and they landed on the crags just above calling loudly. Rock Pipits showed well along the Marine Drive but surprisingly not one Stonechat could be found.

Common Snipe BMW 1

Common Snipe are always wonderful to see - libary photograph.

Next stop was at RSPB Conwy where lots of new birds for the day were quickly enjoyed, always good to have a big change of habitat! Moorhens, Coots, Gadwall, and Shoveler all showed well on the first lagoon and the birds here are nice and close so frame filling views. On the second lagoon a flock of Lapwing and Common Redshank were roosting on one of the islands and amongst them five Dunlin and a single Knot though the latter was very good at hiding in amongst the Redshank! More ducks here too with Tufted Duck, Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser all enjoyed despite the strong wind. A group of four Common Snipe blended in very well with the dead grasses on the tiny island where they roosted but once seen we had super views through the scope. In the distance a Great White Egret was out on the Conwy Estuary but not a Little Egret to be seen, how time have changed. A tiny Goldcrest showed well in the willow trees and a flock of Siskin flew out of the alder trees in the wildlife garden.

Heading down the Conwy Valley the wind got even stronger and some heavy rain showers rattled through making birding pretty tough. But a few good birds were enjoyed including beautiful Red Kites battling the wind. At the second location in the valley it was much more sheltered from the wind but still pretty wet but that is why we have great water-proof kit! Only a few minutes after walking along the lane a male Hawfinch was spotted in a bare beech tree! Panic as this wonderful bird was THE bird to see here and the Leica telescope was soon on the bird. What a lovely bird a male Hawfinch is, and with that massive beak and bull-neck a really impressive beast. Nick was able to take some pictures despite the poor light and then noticed a second bird just left of the first and another beautiful male. Then a third male Hawfinch was seen in the same tree and amazingly it too was a male, three beautiful males all showing well just fantastic birding! Two Sparrowhawks soared over the woods as Alan and Nick walked back to the car. A lovely, if late, lunch was enjoyed at nearby Snowdonia Nursery café.

Hawfinch Roy de Hass

A great look at a male Hawfinch is very special indeed - libary photo.

After a great meal it was time for more birds and given the rather grim weather it was back to the coast. At Llanfairfechan the wind was really strong but luckily a shelter here allowed the scopes to be used in relative calm and Common Scoter were seen riding the waves along with Great Crested Grebes but the sea was so rough it was very hard to see birds. On the beach there were plenty of waders, mostly hunkered down against the gale, hundreds of Oystercatchers, small numbers of Curlew, Redshank, Knot and Turnstones. Sadly no sign of a Dipper on the steam here on this occasion despite a good scan from two viewpoints.

Just time for one more stop, day light is in short supply on gloomy December days, and the estuary at Aber Ogwen. Coal Tits were on the feeder by the roadside and three Little Egrets were in the wet field behind the beach along with a flock of Wigeon. The light looking out onto the estuary was awful with a little late sun making the mudflats glow but the birds were in silhouette making it very tricky indeed. A flock of Black-tailed Godwits and then a flock of Knot flew around the estuary and landed all looking black! Time to head for home after a great day’s birding here in North Wales many thanks to Nick for his enthusiastic company.

Come and join us for a “Tour for Two” – very small group just two guests with two guides, tailor made itinerary, low risk in these COVID-19 times and of course lots of birds and an excellent chance of enjoying them all. Do drop us a line and we can make all the arrangements be it a day trip, two days, three day or as long a tour as you wish. Our recent Tours for Two have visited the Highlands of Scotland, North Wales, Norfolk and the Yorkshire coast and we are planning many more! Let us know where you would like to go and we can put together a proposal perfect for you.

We are so lucky to have so many species and habitats within easy reach here in North Wales 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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