Day Three Custom North Wales Birdwatching Trips Three Day Tour

Black Grouse May 2016 7

Magical watching Black Grouse display at dawn, and hearing them!

We collected Barry and Wendy from The Empire Hotel, Llandudno, at 5.45am as we had some special birds to look for. An hour later we made a roadside comfort stop and heard a Tawny Owl calling very close though we could not see it. Lovely to hear both Mistle and Song Thrushes, Robins and Dunnocks all singing here just as the light of dawn was coming. A few minutes later and the dawn chorus had changed from beautiful songs to bubbling and raucous “kerrrwicks” as Black Grouse displayed just yards away from our position! Just an awesome spectacle and all so close, surely one of the best bird spectacles? We certainly think so and Barry and Wendy agreed. Eighteen male Black Grouse were in full display, lekking as it is known, and we soaked up the sights and sounds as the light slowly improved allowing us to appreciate their beautiful blue, black, red and white plumage.

Red Grouse

A male Red Grouse hoping for 15 minutes of being famous?

We left the Black Grouse still at it and moved further across the moor, Ruth soon spotted a Red Grouse on top on the heather and yet another bird was added to Barry’s 2020 list. We enjoyed fantastic views of at least five Red Grouse and saw another thirty or so Black Grouse along with two Ravens but sadly not one raptor on the moor.

In a valley below we watched at least two Dippers along a fast flowing stream and had some wonderful close up looks at these dapper birds, one singing away. Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker were new for our trip lists and we had a more prolonged view of Crossbill on the edge of a conifer forest.

Great spotted Woodpecker 2

Great Spotted Woodpecker showed off nicely at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands.

The early start and the bitter cold had given us all an appetite, we were grateful that the morning had been dry. A super Welsh breakfast went down very well indeed and set us up nicely for more birds. A short drive took us just over the border into Cheshire and the RSPB reserve of Burton Mere Wetlands. The birds came quickly here, a Cattle Egret was feeding four Little Egrets in a field along the approach road, new for us for 2020, Barry and Wendy had enjoyed them in Norfolk a few weeks ago. Lots of birds were visible form the visitor centre and it was hard to know where to look! Three Great White Egrets were on the marsh so it became a three egret day – always good. Flocks of Pink-footed Geese flew over, gangs of Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwing and Redshank fed on the wet grasslands. Lots of Wigeon and Teal were on the pools along with Canada and Greylag Geese. Kestrel and Buzzard hunted over the reserve and the feeders behind the centre held Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, tits and finches. Our friend Tony told us of two Egyptian Geese visible from the far side of the car park so we saw them as we left.

A few minutes-drive and we were overlooking the vast marshes of the Dee Estuary and lots to see here. Lapwings and Golden Plover were resting on the floods and a few Dunlin amongst them. A Stock Dove landed in the field behind us as Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Linnets flew over the rough grasslands. Scanning over the vast vista produced raptors, two Merlin, a Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and Buzzards. Three more Great White Egrets were also here with plenty of Little Egrets and a flock of distant Whooper Swans.

Short eared Owl Dee Jan 1

A beautiful Short-eared Owl hunting over the marshes of the Dee Estuary.

A little further north we stopped at another view point overlooking the marshes and almost at once saw a gorgeous Short-eared Owl floating over the wet grassland – wow! Panic as everyone got onto this wonderful bird but the owl was very happy and put on a breath-taking show for some twenty minutes and was often joined by a second one. Moments like this a burned into the memory and will never be forgotten, beautiful birds showing off so close.

On that amazing note we headed back to North Wales and decided to have a look off Llanfairfechan before heading back to base in Llandudno. Not a great idea the rain returned with a vengeance and the wind was back to full gale force! Ruth and Wendy stayed in the car as Barry and Alan did their best to see some birds. A Grey Wagtail in the stream here was Barry’s last year tick for the three tour taking him to a very respectable 151 for the year! Despite the grim conditions at Llanfairfechan we also saw Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Bar-tailed Godwit, Great Crested Grebe, Razorbill and Shag, not bad.

That evening Barry and Wendy joined us for a little celebration, February 19th was the official 10th birthday of our company Birdwatching Trips, though we have been running tours longer than that. It was so lovely that Barry and Wendy were with us as they have travelled with us every year of all ten years. Not only throughout the UK but to Spain, Norway, Finland, Morocco and Thailand too, we have so many wonderful memories of times together. We look forward to sharing many more adventures with them, Norfolk, Georgia and India to name a few!

Huge thanks to Barry and Wendy for their wonderful company over the three, and a bit, days here in North Wales and thank you both for your generosity too, lovely gifts and a superb meal on the last night, we can’t thank you enough. Looking forward to lots more birding with you both.

We would love you to join us on our Birdwatching Trips, please see our tours pages and 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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