A Visit To RSPB Conwy At High Tide And A Birding Dilemma 19 August 2020

Spotted Redshank this one photographed at RSPB Titchwell on one of our tours.

A visit to RSPB Conwy Nature Reserve this morning on a grey humid day with spots of rain in the air but calm, so pretty good conditions for birding. Chatting with staff on arrival there had been an “unconfirmed” report of a Terek Sandpiper, not impossible but very unlikely – Wales’s first and only Terek Sandpiper to date was found here by Alan some twenty years ago!

At the viewing screen off the boardwalk three Lapwings were the only waders visible along with five Little Egrets, Teal and gadwall. At the Tal-y-Fan hide a lot more birds were visible as the incoming tide was pushing birds off the adjacent estuary onto the reserve to roost as their feeding grounds were submerged. A gang of seven Dunlin, all smart juveniles, fed on the mud to the right of the hide but most birds were on the lagoon to the left. Here hundreds of Common Redshank were flying in to rest during high tide when they could not feed. Amongst them a juvenile Spotted Redshank but tricky to pick out once he tucked his beak into his feathers and went to sleep. Three handsome Black-tailed Godwits were amongst the flock and two Curlew. Three Common Sandpipers fed on the muddy edges of the lagoon constantly bobbing their rear ends as they picked items from the mud. A couple arrived at the hide and were scanning the lagoons and got chatting, they were so excited by an amazing sighting the previous day, wonderful to hear their excitement and thrill as they recounted the tale of a Peregrine Falcon that caught a feral pigeon in their garden! They had been looking out of the window and between them seen the whole wildlife drama played out in front of their eyes! The raptor had caught the pigeon then flown down into the garden to pluck and eat the unlucky pigeon. The couple were just so over joyed to have witnessed this amazing bird spectacle so close to their window and their enthusiasm for the bird and its behaviour were wonderful to listen too. This is what birds can do – really make your day and then spread that excitement by sharing the experience with others, wonderful. The couple turned to continue their walk and then remembered they had photos of the Peregrine on their mobile phones taken from the window it had been that close! The pictures were brought up on the phone screens and yes the bird had indeed been really close… but the bird was female Sparrowhawk. Oh. They still gushing all about the amazing Peregrine encounter, what to do, two choices one burst their bubble of joy and excitement, two go with the flow and allow them to be so happy and excited, which to do? Usually a gentle let down and explanation of why the bird is not what they thought would be the choice but these two lovely people we just so thrilled it seemed very unkind? So looking at the photo the response was “Oh wow a female” and “so lucky to see a bird of prey that close”. So was that the right thing to do? They continued on their walk buzzing from recounting their special bird moment and maybe that will encourage an even greater interest in birds? Hope so, or should an explanation of why it wasn’t a Peregrine but a Sparrowhawk been offered? Given the level of their excitement it may have really knocked their confidence and perhaps even their interest in birds?

At the Carneddau hide the same flocks of waders were in view but somewhat closer and two Whimbrel had joined an increasing number of Curlew, maybe 70 birds and a flock of 35 Oystercatchers had dropped in too. Another bird watcher was here looking through his telescope and he fitted the description of the chap who reported the Terek Sandpiper, ah, I knew the chap, and did not look for the sandpiper any more. Reputation proceeded him shall we say.

Walking the trail around to the viewing screen at the south end of the reserve a single Common Swift whizzed back and forth overhead, first one of these for several days, perhaps the last? Movement in an elder bush caught the eye and a lovely Lesser Whitethroat hopped up into view quickly followed by three Blackcaps, all sporting brown caps of females or juveniles. At the viewing screen seven Greenshank were roosting on the islands really close always lovely waders to see and the Whimbrel were closer here too.

A juvenile Spotted Redshank more tricky to pick out especially when asleep, RSPB Titchwell.

A message via the mobile phone told that Levi, a super keen young birder, and his mum Caroline were on the reserve looking for Spotted Redshank. So we quickly agreed to meet back at the Carneddau hide to see if the bird was still visible. Levi had his scope set up and was scanning the Common Redshank flock luckily the juvenile Spotted Redshank was soon picked out though asleep so not wonderful views. We chatted about all things birds including Hen Harriers a species which Levi is really keen to help having watched Hen Harrier Day. Then we picked out a second Spotted Redshank, this one an adult, and a little closer, again spending most of its time asleep but did wake up briefly showing off that needle like bill, a lifer for Levi and so great to see his enthusiasm for all things birds. Levi and his mum headed off around the reserve but it was time to head back to Llandudno.

Lapwing digi-scoped by Levi at RSPB Conwy today, wonderful to see his passion for 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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