A Year Ago Another Windy And Sometimes Wet Day Best of North Wales 23 February 2020

We don't often see Gannets off the Great Orme here at Llandudno as early as February.

We met Ross, who came out with the previous day, and then Janice at Llandudno West Shore, Wales, at 8am. Sadly the third guest didn’t arrive; we waited awhile but then headed off. Another windy day, has there been a calm day in 2020? It was also spitting with rain and the sky looked like more rain was coming soon. The Great Orme was only a few minutes away and we were soon watching a Red-throated Diver on the sea just below the cliffs. We don’t often see divers this close in, perhaps exhausted after all the gales? Both Ross and Janice were able to take some pretty good photos, imagine how good with some sunshine! Above us Fulmars whizzed back and forth to the towering limestone cliffs and tried hard to land, usually failing, funny to watch. Alan spotted a Peregrine on a cliff ledge, sensible bird had found a dry and sheltered spot, and we wished we could. A Rock Pipit landed on the wall and we had super views of this rock coloured bird. Two Gannets cruised past over the bay and below them Common Guillemots and Great Crested Grebes were on the relatively calm seas, sheltered here by the headland. As we drove further round the Great Orme two Chough swooped ahead of us and then around the cliffs, but we could not relocate them on the ground. With the rain now pelting down we headed off.

Spotted Redshanks are scarce visitors to North Wales and just once in awhile one winters with us.

Next stop was at RSPB Conwy where we were the only visitors, not surprising given the gale force wind and lashing rain! But we struggled down to the first two hides where we at least had shelter. We were all amazed by the variety of waders brought in by the high tide. The majority were Common Redshank but amongst them a pale Spotted Redshank, a single Knot and three Dunlin. Plenty of Curlew roosting on the islands along with two pairs of Oystercatchers, dozens of Lapwings and eight Common Snipe, a super array and pretty good views with the telescope despite the awful conditions. Amazingly we also saw a few smaller birds too including Bullfinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch.

Hawfinch lo res

A bird that always has everyone saying "Wow!" a male Hawfinch just stunning.

With the weather looking a bit brighter and the rain at last stopping we headed off down the Conwy Valley. By a miracle the sun even broke through the clouds and we punched the air with delight! A beautiful Red Kite appeared with the sunshine and wowed us, one of at least eight of these most wonderful raptors enjoyed on this day. Just minutes later we were looking at a male Hawfinch in the top of a bare tree lit up by the sun with blue sky behind! This was what we had hoped for – superb birds and sunshine! We watched three Red Kites displaying over a wood occasionally mobbed by a Raven before we headed further south.

We were very glad of our rugged 4x4 to navigate the storm damaged roads and the huge pools of standing water all over the place. At the next stop Alan saw a Hawfinch briefly but it quickly moved out of sight. We all enjoyed super views of Redwings and three Common Buzzards soaring overhead. We gazed in awe at the might of the Conwy River in full flood rushing towards the sea.

Climbing up out of the Conwy Valley we were treated to spectacular views of the mountains of Snowdonia bathed in sunshine! When did we last see this? So beautiful.

Lesser Redpoll

Lovely to watch birds on the feeders as we enjoyed our lunch - Lesser Redpoll.

A late lunch was enjoyed at Llyn Brenig watching the bird feeders, covered with green and yellow Siskins a wonderful spectacle and cameras were kept busy. A single Lesser Redpoll popped in, plenty of Chaffinches and small numbers of Great, Blue and Coal Tit all enjoyed the food. We looked for Crossbills but no luck with the strong winds and the sun vanished again behind dark clouds we headed back to the coast.

It was really windy back on the coast and showers rattled through. We tried looking at the sea and saw plenty of Common Scoter but it was hard with the waves so big! Turnstones fed amongst the rocks but we didn’t add much else. Back at Llandudno we added our last species of the day, a Pied Wagtail would you believe? This took our total for the day to a very impressive 80 species of bird, given the weather we were thrilled with that. Huge thanks to Ross and Janice for their great company.

Of course a wonderful way to see more birds, whatever the weather, 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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