Day Three Of Three Day Custom Birdwatching Trip For Lisa And Mark

Hawfinch Roy de Hass

Hawfinch was Lisa's most wanted bird on their three day Birdwatching Trip.

The great thing about custom tours is that we can make the trip just perfect for you. Lisa and Mark, after a very hectic spell, requested a latter start for their third and final day of their tour. We met them at their Llandudno hotel at 10am, thankfully the torrential rain of the previous day had gone but still a strong wind blowing.

Fulmars 1

The Great Orme is a super place to see Fulmars at close range.

We drove the very short distance to the Great Orme, the limestone headland on the north side of Llandudno, to be met with “Road Closed” signs! All that record breaking rain fall yesterday had resulted in a rock fall closing the beautiful Marine Drive around the headland. But we had birds we wanted to see! We abandonded the 4x4 and walked along the road, being told by council staff not too, but we had birds to see! Luckily we didn’t have far to walk, and no fallen or falling rocks in sight, before we were enjoying wonderful views of Fulmars, our target bird here. Even better a pair of Chough swooped in along the cliffs calling loudly, wonderful sight in the sunshine.

Next we headed down the Conwy Valley to search for Lisa’s most wanted bird of the trip, the elusive Hawfinch. The sun was popping in and out from behind dark clouds and it was pretty mild, Mistle and Song Thrushes were singing, Spring like after yesterday’s non-stop rain. The whole of the valley floor was flooded, we had never seen such vast floods before, the highest rain fall ever in one day had left its mark sadly.

The Conwy Valley after the heaviest rain in 24 hours since records began! Photo by Steve Phillipps

As we walked up the lane two Red Kites showed off, what wonderful birds and always a thrill to see. Turning a corner we could see yew trees up ahead and a Hawfinch flew out of the nearest tree and shot off! Lisa did see it but not a great view, but at least one was in the area. Over the next half hour or so we had several more flight views of up to three Hawfinches but frustratingly not giving themselves up for good views. Then a Goshawk did the same! It soared low over the valley below us before being lost to view behind the trees, very frustrating. Red Kites, Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk kept us entertained as we played hunt the Hawfinch. Then a lady walker flushed ten Hawfinches out of the yew trees! Good news so many were here, bad news they flew away! Luckily Ruth spotted one high up in a bare tree and both Leica telescopes were trained on this bull-necked finch, whew. The view was pretty good but there were twigs in the way and the sun wasn’t on the bird, but at least everyone had now had a look at a Hawfinch. We just discussing moving on when Ruth again saw a Hawfinch fly in, this time it landed in full view and in the sunshine and a male! We all enjoyed lovely telescope views of this handsome finch, much more satisfying than the previous view.

We headed off south down the Conwy Valley and were again met by the dreaded “Road Closed” sign. To find an alternative route would mean going all the way back up to the coast and then trying the east side of the valley, perhaps also flooded, what to do? Luckily our superb 4x4 has good ground clearance and is designed for getting through when others fail. So, we drove around the sign and continued on, all be it rather slowly. There was plenty of water across the road in many places but nothing to bother our great 4x4, whew!

We headed up to Llyn Brenig, on the Denbigh moors, as we turned off the main road towards the lake Ruth spotted Crossbills! We tumbled out into a snow storm, huge flakes of snow were coming slowly down weird and wonderful but the birds had gone. At the lakeside visitor centre we enjoyed our lunch as we watched lots of birds coming and going at the bird feeders opposite our table. Lots of Siskins, many of them colourful males, Chaffinches, a Greenfinch, Coal, Blue and Great Tits, and a very shy Brambling that made two brief appearances, a lot of human and dog disturbance near the feeders! Just north of Llyn Brenig is another much smaller lake and here we were soon watching a very handsome Ring-necked Duck, a new bird for Lisa and Mark. This rare visitor from North America was hanging out with a small flock of Tufted Duck diving in a sheltered bay below us. Through the telescopes we could really enjoy the detail of this smart duck, which would be better named “ring-billed” duck. Nice to catch up with other local birders here too.

Ring necked Duck 5 with tufted

Spot the Ring-necked Duck amongst the Tufted Ducks, this one photographed in Scotland.

We still had a little time in hand before Lisa and Mark’s train back to London so we drove through the nearby Clocaneog Forest and that proved a very good move. We stopped to watch Crossbills and it was only when we got out that we realised just how many there were, some seventy birds perhaps? A wonderful sight and sound as they circled over the trees, landing calling excitedly making the pines look like Christmas trees covered in colourful decorations. As we enjoyed the Crossbill show there were plenty of raptors too, a Peregrine cruised over the forest several times, a Sparrowhawk flapped past and many Buzzards soared all around us.

Crossbill flock on bog

Crossbills are wonderful birds and a real treat to see so many!

Further into the forest we came across a flock of some 200 hundred Fieldfare a wonderful sight and the biggest flock we have seen for a long time. At the next stop we watched a lovely orange and white Brambling in a hawthorn bush in the sunshine and another Sparrowhawk over us.

Sadly it was time to head for the station and time for Lisa and Mark to headed back to London. It had certainly been three days full of variety, amazing selection of birds, four seasons of weather in three days, Wales’s wettest ever day on record, biggest floods in living memory, roads blocked by rock falls, foam drifts on Anglesey and a lot of laughs! We look forward to more birding adventures with Lisa and Mark in the future, maybe less rain next time?

Please email us here to arrange your very own custom trip…..

We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds like these with you soon!

Some of the birds we enjoyed over the three day custom tour… Red-throated Diver, Fulmar, Gannet, Shag, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Great white Egret, Pink-footed Goose, Brent Goose, Ring-necked Duck, Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Goshawk, Peregrine, Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Avocet, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Grey Phalarope, Mediterranean Gull, Kittiwake, Black Guillemot, Short-eared Owl, Skylark, Dipper, Stonechat, Fieldfare, Chough, Hooded Crow, Brambling, Crossbill and Hawfinch and many more!

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