Best Of North Wales Birdwatching Trip 23 – 27 June 2018

Great Orme

The Great Orme at Llandudno, North Wales, a great location for enjoying birds.

Wow! We had an amazing five day Birdwatching Trip here in North Wales – wall to wall sunshine, fantastic birds, superb scenery, a lovely hotel, wonderful food and a lovely group. We all met at the Princes Arms Hotel in the beautiful Conwy Valley late morning on the 23rd June and settled in. We watched Red Kites, Buzzards and two Peregrines from the hotel before enjoying a lovely lunch, great start.

Our first stop after lunch was a view point overlooking RSPB Conwy where we quickly saw a lot of birds! Waders included Curlew, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Redshank and a lone Black-tailed Godwit. Lots of Little Egrets here and three Teal were a surprise for June.

Next we visited the Great Orme at Llandudno where we were soon enjoying frame-filling views of a Peregrine on the cliff along with lots of Fulmars. Further around this impressive headland we watched Common Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Cormorants and Shags all breeding on the cliffs. Gannets cruised by off-shore and we were very lucky to see a single Puffin, a real rarity at this site. A young Raven flew in and landed just above us allowing great views of this impressive crow. Heading back to the Conwy Valley we enjoyed another super view-point overlooking the Conwy River. Lots of Buzzards here and two more Red Kites and a single Kestrel added to our raptor tally. Two Bullfinches were a great addition to our already impressive bird list.

Back at the hotel the bird feeders were busy and we watched Great-spotted Woodpecker and Jay along with the more usual suspects here. A delicious meal rounded the day off perfectly.

Early on the 24th we headed out for some, optional, pre-breakfast birding. In a nearby area of forest we had super views of Common Redstarts including a stunning male a real wow bird. A flock of nine, Common Crossbill were very welcome indeed, never to find birds. We also watched a fox dozing in the warm sunshine in a field of sheep – neither took any notice of each other lovely to see.

Common Sandpiper June 2017 1

Lovely to watch Common Sandpipers on their breeding grounds.

After a wonderful full breakfast, enjoyed over-looking the Conwy River we headed out again. Taking a wonderful scenic road we headed into the hills of Snowdonia. Stopping at a spectacular view-point with the whole of Snowdonia before us we again watched Common Redstarts feeding along a hedge, what amazing birds. Nearby we had a lovely encounter with a Curlew family, and so good to see they had three quite well grown young. Curlew, are in very steep decline so marvellous to see this family doing well. Lapwings, Stonechats and Linnet were seen at the same lovely location, in the glorious sunshine. We walked to a lake amongst rolling heather moorland and watched a pair of Common Sandpipers but despite a lot of scanning no Hen Harriers showed for us. Another lake and here we had super views of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll before moving further along the lake to see some very special birds. A pair of Ospreys had taken up residence, first breeding here, and we watched one of these great raptors on the nest. After a while the mate of the first Osprey came in with a fish and fed at least two chicks, a real thrill to see this in North Wales not far from home!

On the 25th we were again out early, before breakfast, taking advantage of the cooler weather. Climbing high above the Conwy Valley, we were soon watching a lovely singing male Whinchat in perfect light, just beautiful. Then Ruth picked out a Ring Ouzel and we quickly had this scarce bird in the Leica telescopes so we could all enjoy this mountain thrush.

After another super breakfast, always tastes so good after great early birds, we were out again. North to the coast and the sea was so calm just like a millpond. We soon found our first target bird, Common Scoter, not many about in June for great to see them.

Up on to another moorland area where we soon found Red Grouse and enjoyed more wonderful views of Whinchats again such cracking little birds. A Hobby flew right in front of us, a real surprise to see this small colourful falcon in the sunshine. A little later we saw what was presumable the same Hobby again and this time it put on a real display for us against the clear blue sky.

After a great lunch we headed for the Dee Estuary and RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands nature reserve. Right away, from the visitor centre, we saw lots of birds! Many Black-tailed Godwits were feeding in the lagoon along with families of Avocets, the young looking very cute indeed with their tiny up-turned bills. Common Redshank were feeding along the edge of the reeds, Lapwings also had youngsters, an Egyptian Goose was a nice bonus bird amongst the Canada Geese.

We walked around to the far end of the reserve where the light was perfect, sun behind us, and we enjoyed more wonderful views of waders and wildfowl. Star bird here was a stunning breeding-plumaged Spotted Redshank. This leggy wader was jet black with white spots and showed off for us. Lots more Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits here and both Shoveler and Teal were close to the hide. In the nearby bushes we watched a family of Long-tailed Tits and a Sedge Warbler. A really great bird filled day visiting a super variety of habitats visited.

On our pre-breakfast birding on the 26th we watched a pair of Dipper along a lovely tree-lined river. Common Redstarts were also feeding nearby and Nuthatches were right above us.

Puffin Hornoya

Everybody loves a Puffin and we enjoyed great views of these wonderful sea-birds.

The Isle of Anglesey was our venue for the rest of the day and we first visited RSPB South Stack. Here the spectacular sea-cliffs were packed with seabirds and we soaked up the views. Common Guillemots were shoulder to shoulder on the ledges and plenty of Razorbills too, lots of Kittiwakes were loafing on the cliffs below the lighthouse but no sign of any nesting sadly. Fulmars were breeding and at least five birds were seen on the rock faces. But of course it was the Puffins that stole the show! We watched Puffins swimming on the clam sea below us, showing off their bright orange feet, Puffins flying past and then Puffins on the cliffs, just superb! With the Leica telescopes we had frame filling views of these most engaging birds. Nearby we were thrilled to see a family of Chough on the cliffs, more wonderful birds in perfect weather.

At nearby Holyhead harbour we watched a smart Black Guillemot diving in the flat-calm sea and enjoyed a coffee in the sun.

We then drove north to Cemlyn Lagoon where we enjoyed our picnic lunch overlooking the lagoon. Plenty of birds to keep us busy, hundreds of Sandwich Terns were nesting on the islands and amongst them both Common and Arctic Terns. Rocks around the edge of the islands make the perfect loafing spot for off duty terns and there were all three species resting here. Careful scanning of these birds produced great excitement with the discovery of a lovely Roseate Tern amongst its much commoner cousins. The Roseate Tern was noticeably paler than the adjacent Common and Arctic Terns and smaller than the Sandwich Terns. The Roseate also had a dark bill, red on both Common and Arctic Terns. What a super bird to see! Lunch finished we explored the area and watched Ringed Plover and Dunlin on the beach, two more Black Guillemots in the bay and harbour porpoises offshore, as always Cemlyn had produced great wildlife.

A freshwater lake gave us lots more birds including Great crested Grebes and Pochard both new for our impressive trip list. Next stop a marshland where we enjoyed super birding. Lapwings with young were great to see and we were thrilled to watch a male Marsh Harrier floating over the marsh just wonderful. But more was to come, a Hobby flew in low over the wet fields and luckily this falcon landed in a dead tree! The raptor was quickly in the scopes and we had super views. A super end to a real great day.

The 27th was our last day of the tour and we again headed out for some pre-breakfast birding. The first stop was in a lovely woodland was hard going with few birds so we changed plan and visited another site. A stunning lake surrounded by hills was worth the visit just for the views but we were very lucky here indeed and watched a wonderful Hen Harrier against the blue sky, just a wonderful moment, superb bird in a stunning place.

After breakfast we visited another woodland and here we finally caught up with a family of Wood Warblers always a joy to see. Further into Snowdonia we watched Wheatears and Common Redstarts and then a pair of Chough – great birds in stunning scenery, sums up North Wales nicely. Back to the coast and four Eider were new for our trip list and we watched a flock of Goosander before it was time to head back to the hotel.

After a lovely lunch we said our farewells and all agreed it had been a really wonderful trip and a lot of fun. Huge thanks to Sandy, Debbie, Cedric, Ray, Wilf, Brian and Rita for their great company and we look forward to enjoying great birds with you all again soon.

We would love you to join us for one of our Birdwatching Trips and share great birds and great fun with you. Please drop us a line here for details of all our tours….

We look forward to enjoying great birds in wonderful places with you.

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