Custom Birdwatching Trips Best Of North Wales Day Trip 9 September 2020

We enjoyed watching Chough at two places on this amazing Birdwatching Trips tour.

We met Helen at Llandudno West Shore at 8am for her custom day trip, always great to enjoy birds with Helen, such great company. We had timed the pick-up perfectly as only half an hour earlier the weather had been grim but now blue sky and sunshine.

Stonechat male Gt Orme winter

Super views of Stonechats on the Great Orme, Llandudno this morning.

As we were in Llandudno we began the day close by on the Great Orme and we were soon enjoying great views of Stonechats and Rock Pipits along the Marine Drive. Above us two Peregrine Falcons swept across the sky calling and giving super views. These wonderful birds were quickly followed by a pair of Chough calling and swooping around the cliffs before landing on a ledge, fantastic. Offshore we watched Gannets flying west, some very close, along with a group of eight Common Scoter, a Fulmar and small numbers of Kittiwakes all on the move. Razorbills were on the sea and we had good looks at these chunky seabirds through the telescopes.

Next we called in at RSPB Conwy for a quick look and enjoyed some wonderful views of birds in the perfect light. A Black-tailed Godwit and a Common Snipe were on the shallow lagoon but no sign of the previous day's Garganey at that time. On the deep lagoon we watched Dunlin and Common Redshank along with Tufted Ducks and Little Grebes.

Moving south, we were enjoying the wonderful sunshine and scenery as we got out of the 4x4 and almost at once saw two “stocky”-looking birds on the very top of a tree on a bare branch. Panic as the telescopes were quickly on them and suspicion confirmed – Hawfinches! Amazingly these two juvenile birds just sat there looking around allowing us all to enjoy prolonged views and discuss plumage details, something that rarely happens with Hawfinches. Just then another car pulled up: Richard and Julie, the couple we had guided for the previous three days and who were still holidaying here. Frantic arm-waving and pointing and Richard and Julie were able to watch the Hawfinches again today. At last the two chunky finches flew and we followed them across a field and saw them land in an ash tree where they were joined by two adult Hawfinches – amazing – but they did not linger here and soon flew off and were lost to view.

We then had a scan over the ridge opposite and watched at least seven Buzzards and five Ravens enjoying the warm air. Two Goosander were on the Conwy River along with Lapwings and lots of Canada Geese. A falcon appeared over the ridge and at first glance we thought it was another Peregrine, but then the bird twisted and turned in mid-air, caught an insect and began to feed on the wing – it was a Hobby! A rare bird in the area and luckily it was enjoying the moment and flew back and forth allowing us prolonged views. Back at the car another raptor appeared over the tree tops and this time it was a beautiful Red Kite and as we watched 3 Buzzards soared behind the kite.

We climbed back in the 4x4 and had gone all of six feet when Alan shouted “Goshawk, get out now!” Amazingly a Goshawk was fairly low over the field just ahead of us, mad panic as we all tumbled out and luckily Ruth immediately got onto this huge hawk so nobody lost sight of it. The Goshawk, a huge muscular female, slowly circled over the field really close and we had stunning views in the sunshine. Then things got even better, the Hobby appeared from nowhere like a rocket and appeared to hit the Goshawk which took evasive action! This was insane: we were in North Wales watching a female Goshawk being mobbed by a tiny Hobby at pretty close range, just a jaw-dropping moment! Alan ran and shouted to Richard and Julie who were nearby and amazingly they got to see the Goshawk but by now the Hobby had given up its mobbing of the huge hawk. As we all watched the Goshawk the Hobby was suddenly back again buzzing the Goshawk though now both were higher and further away. It was superb to see these two rare raptors next to one another and it really brought home just how big female Goshawks are. We were all thrilled and stunned by this totally unexpected and so exciting encounter. One of those moments you remember for ever.

We tried a fast-flowing stream for Dipper but sadly no luck at the spot we usually visit. As we were still elated from our earlier birds we thought we would spend some time looking for Dipper and tried a part of the stream that was new for us. It was a beautiful spot with stunning waterfalls and Helen loved it as she is keen on landscape photography as well as birds. We had not walked far when we found a pair of Grey Wagtails and then just a bit further on we spotted a Dipper. This wonderful bird proved very obliging indeed and we watched it for ages while Helen took some super photos with the Dipper posing mid-stream for us.

We then celebrated a superb morning with a lovely lunch at Tu Hwnt i’r Bont café by the Conwy River in Llanrwst – as always a real treat. Next we headed into the mountains and again Helen was thrilled to take lots of landscape photographs in the perfect light. We were watching a pair of Chough on a boulder when Alan spotted a Ring Ouzel and we soon had this male bird in the scopes and we all enjoyed super views. We scanned the slope and found at least seven of these wonderful birds feeding on the short grass-covered slope. The views were brilliant in the scopes and the group included males, females and juveniles.

We then dropped down to the coast and spent the rest of the afternoon at Aber Ogwen enjoying a lot of birds! On the pool we had super views of Little Egrets and a Grey Heron fishing really close to the hide, also a Little Grebe. On the estuary a flock 16 Greenshank were roosting with many Common Redshank as it was high tide during our visit. Seventy-three Little Egrets were roosting on the shoreline along with sleeping Goosanders and hundreds of Greylag Geese. Offshore we watched gangs of Common Eider, Red-breasted Mergansers and lots of Great Crested Grebes while further out Gannets were diving for fish in the Menai Straits. Off to the right, thousands of gulls were feeding over the bay, an amazing sight in the sunshine and we picked out a few Sandwich Terns amongst them. Then a real surprise as a flock of some 150 Arctic Terns flew west along the Menai Straits at high speed. The summering Whooper Swan was with a large flock of Mute Swans offshore from the car park though it was spending most the time with its head underwater. Weirdest sighting here however was another Dipper flying along the shore and perching on a seaweed-covered rock – not the usual habitat where you expect to see a Dipper.

What a memorable and great fun day, huge thanks to Helen for her lovely company. We would love to put together a custom Birdwatching Trips tour just for you. We are also running special “Tours for Two” which as the name suggests are fully-inclusive custom tours for just people to ensure you feel safe and relaxed throughout. Please ask for details and we can tailormake the tour to be perfect for you.

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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