Day Two Of Three Day North Wales Tour North Wales Coast

Black Guillemot

Black Guillemots are just such handsome birds!

We again picked up Tony and Eva from their Llandudno hotel and within minutes we were enjoying great birds on the Great Orme, the limestone headland on the north side of this lovely seaside town. Fulmars were on the cliffs just above us giving their wonderful “chuckling” calls and we enjoyed frame filling views of these gentle looking seabirds. A Peregrine Falcon swept along the cliff top always a wow moment to see this spectacular raptor. Next a pair of Chough treated us to a private air-show, twisting turning, swooping and generally showing us just how well they can fly. We often think Chough really do fly for fun, the way these two corvids went back and forth, above us, below us and around us a wonderful sight. A male Stonechat showed off, so close, what stunning little bird, and this one was very tame. A shingle beach, below the cliffs held a gang of Atlantic grey seals and we had wonderful views of these big mammals. Two bull seals were fighting in the breakers at the edge of the beach amazing to watch as they smacked each other with their necks. A Rock Pipit landed at eye-level on the cliff and we had super close views of this subtle bird, one which Tony and Eva had hoped to get better views of, pipits can be tricky for sure.

Atlantic Grey Seal

A bull Atlantic grey seal, a regular sight around the Great Orme.

Further around the headland we set up the Leica telescopes and scanned the sea. First up were two breeding plumaged Black Guillemots, great to see so close to our home, not far from the cliff. Through the telescopes we could even see the scarlet red legs of these very smart auks. Lots more birds were visible here, hundreds of Common Guillemots were crowded on the narrow cliff ledges, these birds do sometime visit the breeding colonies way before breeding commences in April. Back to the sea and rafts of Razorbills, our third species of auk, floated just offshore not coming up onto the cliffs yet like the Common Guillemots. A group of eight Common Scoter rested on the sea further out, nice to see here, most records are of birds flying past. Four Ravens swept along the cliffs just below us allowing an unusual view from above of these huge members of the crow family.

We then headed east along the North Wales coast and stopped at Penrhyn Bay. We set up the scopes, again, and scanned the fairly calm sea, Great crested Grebes, Red-breasted Mergansers, Goldeneye and Shags were all enjoyed. Further east and we tried Llanddulas where lots of Common Scoter were offshore but the choppy sea made viewing difficult here. A beautiful Grey Wagtail showed off along the stream just behind the beach here.

We enjoyed a warming, much needed, hot chocolate at a beach café then further east to the mouth of the River Clwyd. A Black Redstart had been seen here recently and we hoped to see it. We searched the whole area but no sign of this rare visitor to North Wales. There were plenty of birds on the beach here, with the incoming tide pushing them towards us. Lots of Redshank, Oystercatchers and it was great to see Sanderling running amongst them, always lovely to watch these “clock-work toys” of birds. Two Goosanders fished in the river channel and we had wonderful looks at eight Skylarks feeding behind the beach. But, no sign of our wanted bird. Back at the car we caught up with the day list as Alan had one last scan of the area, and boom! The Black Redstart was feeding in the boat yard just yards from the car! Everyone jumped out and luckily saw this great little Robin sized bird. Whew! That was so close another minute and we would have left without seeing this lovely bird. Next up a lovely late lunch and hot food went down very well indeed, it was cold out there!

Black Redstart Gt Orme Oct 2016 1

Black Redstart, a scarce bird in North Wales and one we were pleased to see!

Warmed up with great food and hot drinks we headed west along the North Wales coast towards Bangor. Sadly the weather went down-hill quickly, thick drizzle and low cloud, yuck. Luckily we were headed for a hide over-looking an estuary and a pool so plenty to see and in the dry! There were even bird feeders right next to the hide attracting lots of birds. On the estuary we had really great looks at Goosanders both in and out of the water. Goldeneye were diving in the bay where lots of Wigeon and Shelduck were loafing on the sheltered water. Lots of waders were roosting on the beach including Greenshank, Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit. A big female Peregrine surveyed the scene from the top of a broken wall; it spent the entire time in the same spot, perhaps reluctant to fly in the grim weather?

On the pool we had lovely views of a Little Egret fishing in the shallow waters. But the real highlight here was a wonderful Water Rail, this often hard to see bird came out of cover and right up to the hide! The Rail was looking for food dropped below the bird feeders and we watched spell-bound as it came closer and closer.

With no sign of the weather improving we headed back to Llandudno and joined Tony and Eva for a lovely meal in the evening, thanks so much!

One more day of this three day custom tour still to come so please check back soon for part three! We would love you to join us for great birds and great fun here in North Wales or further afield. Please email us here for details….

We look forward to hearing from you soon and sharing great birds together!

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