A Very Early Start With Two Lovely Birders From Spain Best Of North Wales

Black Grouse May 2013

It was a very early start with the alarm going off a 3.45am for a Birdwatching Trips Best of North Wales day trip with two guests from Spain. Alan was out at 4.15 to bring the car around to our guests B&B for a 4.30am pick up. Walking to where he had parked the car, down the street some way from home, no car. Horrible sinking feeling. He was sure it had been parked there, running to the far end of the road to a place we often park, no car there. Time was ticking and it looked as though the car had been stolen! Running all the way back, some half a mile or so, there was the car! It was parked just yards from home and somehow Alan had walked past it in the dark, doh!

At bang on 4.30am the car was outside the B&B and we set off, if rather out of breath and highly stressed. The reason for the early start was that our guests really wanted to see Black Grouse. During our email exchanges, prior to the trip, we had mentioned July was not a great time to see these wonderful birds, February – May so much better, but they were in the UK now and really wanted to give it a go.

Driving across the moor mist was coming and going and we hoped we would be able to see the lek site let alone the birds! Luckily it was clear and we could see black lumps amongst the grass, second huge moment of relief that morning. Nine male Black Grouse were in their regular spot and we enjoyed wonderful close views of the most wanted birds. Not a lot of lekking going on just some half -hearted raising of tails and some rather lazy calling but the birds were here and big smiles from our guests. We continued across the moor stopping to watch Red Grouse, Whinchats, Stonechats and Reed Buntings. We stopped at another lek site but no sign of any Black Grouse here, as we scanned around we saw more Red Grouse, Common Whitethroat and lots and lots of Meadow Pipits. Then we heard a Black Grouse “bubbling” and we scanned harder. We picked out a male Black Grouse in the heather and through the scopes we had good views in the sunshine. This male then flew low and fast and landed closer joining three more males pretty well hidden in the tall grass. Luckily the arrival of this bird stimulated some display and two of the males put on a nice display of lekking, perfect! We enjoyed hot drinks and cake before dropping down off the moors, job done.

We had super views of a Dipper feeding in a fast flowing river where a Mandarin duck was a nice bonus. Several Common Redstarts and a handsome male Bullfinch added more colour. Heading north we stopped for a brunch and tucked into big plates of food and plenty of coffee.

Restored, we headed into the Snowdonia National Park, the scenery was just beautiful but it was now hot so little bird activity. We did enjoy watching Wheatears, Nuthatch and Common Buzzard.

Leaving the mountains behind we headed for Anglesey and the other most wanted bird for our guests, Puffin. Again, late July is not usually a good time to look for these wonderful seabirds as they have usually left their breeding cliffs, along with all the other auks. But we had some hope, we had heard a few Puffins were still about three days ago.

Puffin July 2017 3

We arrived at RSPB South Stack, where a breeze kept the heat at bay, and we walked down to the cliff top. The normally crowded ledges were empty and at first glance it seemed there were no seabirds here at all. But we scanned and saw two Common Guillemots on the cliffs, looking rather lost and sad. More scanning of the water and a few more Common Guillemots, then bingo, Puffins! Two these comical, colourful sea-parrots were bobbing about not far out. Through the telescopes we could see every detail of these amazing birds, one of which held a lot of fish in its bill, another huge relief. More scanning produced more birds, at least five Puffins, Manx Shearwaters, Razorbill, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Gannets, amazing considering how quiet it had looked at first glance. Three Chough showed off along the cliff tops and a Rock Pipit flew in landed nearby. Then a real surprise as we saw a juvenile Marsh Harrier flying west out to sea, we have never seen this species at South Stack before.

Puffins always put a big smile of everyones faces just magical!

As we headed back towards Llandudno we made a comfort stop at Beddmanarch Bay where we enjoyed super views of five Whimbrel and three Mediterranean Gulls which included a lovely juvenile bird. A really super day with lovely enthusiastic guests and a really amazing variety of birds and habitats enjoyed in great weather come and see North Wales for yourself.

If you are looking for a short break this Autumn our North Wales tour might be of interest. We have a great selection of birds and habitats all within a few miles of our home here in Llandudno. Come and join us in September for our five day “Best of North Wales Tour” where we visit a wide range of habitats enjoying a lot of birds at a pace that gives us plenty of time to really enjoy the birds. The tour is based at a lovely country hotel with lots of birds around the hotel, great food throughout too! For all the details or to book your place please email us.

Please email us here to arrange your very own Birdwatching Trip…..


We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds and great fun with you soon!

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