Big Nose And Big Beak On National Dawn Chorus Day 3 May 2020

Lovely to see Wheatears on the limestone pavement area of the Great Orme.

Extra incentive to head out early today it being National Dawn Chorus Day, so at 5.30am we stepped out into the street and listened, Herring Gull….Carrion Crow….Jackdaw…. then a Raven “cronked” not the best ever dawn chorus! Then a Blackcap joined in adding some credibility to the orchestra. Living in an urban street we didn’t expect any more and it was a lovely morning, a few minutes’ walk and we were at Llandudno Pier watching a gorgeous sun rise with purple bruised clouds and pink/orange sky – beautiful. The Turnstone flock were on their usual high tide roost rocks and several turning tortoiseshell breeding plumage so lovely to see.

The Fulmars were back and forth at the cliffs above Marine Drive and a Chough called from the cliff face as the sunrise played out in the east, amazing colours and the array of wind-turbines stood dark in the Irish Sea added to the drama. A harsh call changed the atmosphere, from tranquil to intense, a Peregrine Falcon, but where was it? Scanning the cliffs but nothing, then suddenly it was there close, dropping against the limestone rock face clutching a lifeless corpse. The female falcon was taking breakfast to her brood in the early morning sunlight.

Gannet in flight ML

Gannets are just superb birds, one was very close to the cliffs today, one day...

Stonechat, Rock Pipit, Goldfinch and Linnet all showed off as we headed for the sharp bend in the Marine Drive, here at Pen Trwyn we stopped to scan the calm sea, a few Kittiwakes and Gannets were moving west past the headland but then suddenly something broke the surface of the water close to our vantage point. We waited and yes there it was again, we had not imagined it, bottle-nosed dolphin! Wow! This was just amazing and it got better, a second dolphin broke the surface right next to the first one. It is always such a thrill to see these amazing marine mammals so close to home. The bottle-nosed dolphins moved slowly west parallel with the Marine Drive allowing lots of views as they came to the surface to breath, they seemed to be moving through rather than feeding.

At the seabird cliffs below the lighthouse masses of birds on the ledges and on the clam sea wonderful to watch. The Kittiwakes were calling their names and swirling around like a mini snow storm in front of the rock faces and the sound carrying easily in the still air. Two huge Gannets were sat on the calm surface like yellow headed swans they looked enormous next to the Razorbills and Common Guillemots. A bit of patient scanning revealed three smart Black Guillemots and possibly a fourth a few minutes later when the first three had swam out of sight. Five Atlantic grey seals were hauled out on the rock shelf below the cliffs but the tide was rising around them, they would soon be swimming.

At the Rest And Be Thankful café a Chough was probing away in the short grass by the car park and allowed wonderful views as it dug deep with that scimitar shaped red beak. In the next gully a family of five Ravens loafed around on the rocks and “cronked” their disapproval at being watched by humans.

Up on the limestone pavement it was cold, the early sun hidden now by grey clouds and a cool west breeze taking the temperature down further. Wheatears whizzed about over the limestone as if keeping busy kept them warm, Stonechats and Meadow Pipits showed off and a pair of Linnets landed on a boulder, had a look and then away again. Offshore more Gannets could be seen far below folding their wings back like huge white darts and plunging into the water for fish.

Following the stonewall back towards Llandudno the sun again pushed the clouds to one side and the wind dropped, too warm now! The birds responded to the rise in temperature and Wheatears appeared as by magic and Willow Warblers began to sing joined by two wonderful Song Thrushes in the scrub at the back of the cemetery so a rather late dawn chorus today but none the less wonderful. A few Swallows were now moving west over the headland and a well-timed scan over the sea produced a fast moving flock of eighteen Common Scoter also heading west. Then a large finch was flying almost towards us, heavy undulating flight, round wings and short tail, blimey a Hawfinch! This surprise visitor flew low over the hawthorn bushes and off towards the cemetery, a brief but exciting encounter with a rare bird for the Great Orme.

A look around the Copper Mine area produced more lovely Wheatears and Willow Warblers with another singing Blackcap and a Chiffchaff unseen. A Long-tailed Tit showed well in a bramble patch and funny to see that long tail very bent, showing that the bird had been in the nest recently, the domed shape nest of the Long-tailed Tit is not ideal to accommodate that tail!

Time to drop back down, following the tram tracks, into Llandudno and home for a late breakfast.

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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