Come With Us On Our Lockdown Birdwatching Exercise Walk Here On The Great Orme Wales

Out of our door, turn right, and a few mintues later, Llandudno Pier.

Our most regular lockdown walk takes us from our front door, down to the pier at Llandudno North Shore. Having checked the pier for Turnstones and scanned the bay for Sandwich Terns and Cormorants and maybe a "bonus" bird such as Common Eider or Common Scoter we follow the scenic Marine Drive left from the pier. This wonderful coast road follows the cliffs of the limestone headland of the Great Orme. The cliffs tower above the road and fall away below it allowing an easy route to explore this wonderful area. We hope you enjoy our tour in photos and hopefully you will be inspired to come and visit North Wales once it is safe to do so. In the meantime stay home, stay safe, save lives and enjoy the Great Orme here...

Turnstone Bangor 2

The legs of Llandudno pier provide a feeding ground for Ruddy Turnstones.

This is the view of the east side of the Great Orme from Llandudno Pier.

The first section of the Marine Drive is a chance to pick up a few garden birds singing and calling from the trees on the left, an area known as Happy Valley and these often include Chaffinch, Blackbird, Wren and Dunnock. Continuing past the Toll Gate, a fee payable for cars normally but the road is officially closed to traffic in lockdown, we are now on the Marine Drive proper and the views back right are wonderful across the pier and out to sea.

Fulmars whizz low over head as they go back and forth to the cliff face above the road.

With luck we can watch beautiful Red-billed Chough here too, what wonderful birds.

Our walk takes us under the towering cliffs and this view is looking back the way we have come.

Rock Pipit Porth M

Rock Pipits are feeding alongside the wall here and often pose for us, they're used to seeing walkers.

This section is also a great place to see Stonechats, here a stunning male with the sea behind.

Around the first corner on the Marine Drive lies "Pigeon Cove", a good place to see Atlantic grey seals.

Pigeon Cove, at low tide, is a place where grey seals often haul out on the rocky beach and here in April we counted an amazing seventy animals on one occasion! The seals had come ashore to mate and we had some incredible views of them last month, quite graphic at times! Scanning offshore here early in lockdown produced the last of the wintering Red-throated Divers and more recently Sandwich Terns passing offshore along with Gannets and Black-legged Kittiwakes.

Two bull grey seals fight for the females at Pigeon Cove, Great Orme.

On past Pigeon Cove there are grassy banks that are a carpet of wildflowers right now.

The shocking bright yellow of the gorse against the blue sea and sky is simply stunning.

Goldfinch RSPB Conwy

These areas also have bramble bushes which provide nesting sites for Goldfinches...

Common Whitethroat

And Common Whitethroats that give their song-flights over the slopes.

Round a few more bends and the Great Orme Lighthouse comes into view.

The sheer cliffs here are the main seabird breeding area and from late April through to July a busy seabird city plays out here. It is wonderful to hear the wild cries of the Kittiwakes and the groaning of the Razorbills and Common Guillemots as we round the corner and see the cliffs ahead. Also here are Cormorants and Shags on the ledges and flying back and forth over the sea. A careful scan of the water near the base of the cliffs can reward us with the sighting of a smart Black Guillemot and at low tide there maybe Atlantic grey seals on the rocks. Offshore is a good place to scan for harbour porpoises, especially on calm days and just now and then bottle-nosed dolphins are here to steal the show, such a thrill to watch them! We keep an eye on the sky too for a passing Peregrine or Raven and pehaps another Red-billed Chough. Then it is uphill towards the Rest and Be Thankful Cafe on the cliff top above the lighthouse, sadly closed in lockdown so no refreshing cuppa these days.

Razorbills are some of the thousands of birds on the cliffs of the Great Orme.

Just past the cafe is a sign detailing some of the human history of the Great Orme.

The view from the cliff top on the limestone pavement towards Conwy.

Not far beyound this sign our route leaves the Marine Drive and we turn left uphill onto the limestone pavement area towards the far end of the headland. A short walk brings us to the cliff top where an amazing panoramic view opens up across to the Isle of Anglesey and the mountains of Snowdonia and the Conwy Valley, simply breath-taking on a clear day. This limestone pavement can also be a good area to look for migrants and a good walk around can be rewarded.

One of the most regular migrants on the limestone pavement area - Northern Wheatear.

April 2020 proved to be great for migrant Ring Ouzels with up to four birds present on some days.

This male Dotterel spent just one day on the limestone pavememt, a real thrill to see.

We then continue our walk back towards Llandudno, following the stone wall that borders the limestone pavement and sheep fields. This track takes us above the cemetery and then past the halfway tram station before dropping down into the town. If energy allows, a short up hill detour brings us out on the top overlooking Llandudno with more spectacular views across towards Snowdonia, the Conwy Valley and the Little Orme to the east, well worth it on a clear day.

This is the view from the detour off the route home, wonderful vista.

The last section of our lockdown walk is steep downhill, tough on the knees!

We then drop downhill very steeply, following the tram tracks down into Llandudno and back home, what a wonderful circular walk taking in many of the highlights the Great Orme has to offer. We usually enjoy over forty species of birds on the walk, still to hit fifty, and the views are always wonderful and always changing with the light and weather. We hope you enjoyed sharing our lockdown walk and perhaps we have tempted you to visit us once lockdown is over and we can move around again? We would love you to join us on our guided Birdwatching Trips which we normally run all year round. Please contact us on this email address if we can help with anything...

We are regularly posting blogs on a wide range of subjects, please have a look back at previous posts and do check back soon for more of our birding adventures, thank you.

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