First Official Birdwatching Trips Tour Of 2021 Two Day Custom Best Of North Wales

Saturday 1st May 2021 was a big moment for Birdwatching Trips – at last we were able to get back to what we love: sharing beautiful birds in stunning scenery with our lovely guests. The COVID-19 pandemic had put the world on hold and has taken, and is still taking, a terrible toll. Thankfully the UK is slowly opening up again but we all must be so careful not to slip back into more lockdowns.

Andy booked a two day custom Best of North Wales Tour for him and his partner Lucy and they timed it perfectly: the weather was just glorious on the morning of 1st May. Being a custom tour we agreed on a 9am pick up from their Llandudno self-catering base and we headed the short distance to the Great Orme, traveling in two cars due to COVID-19 restrictions. Andy and Lucy are just getting into watching birds and it is always so lovely to encourage folks to enjoy watching birds and perhaps help them have a new life-long interest.

As always the Great Orme provided lots of wonderful birds and stunning scenery, the perfect place to start their two-day Birdwatching Trip. We watched stiff-winged Fulmars whizzing overhead, Red-billed Chough wheeling against the blue sky and also feeding on the limestone pavement. Masses of seabirds were on the cliffs and the millpond-like sea below, including super views of Black Guillemots amongst thousands of Common Guillemots, hundreds of Razorbills and Kittiwakes. Wheatears and Stonechats were very popular and both really showed off in the perfect weather. Then Andy spotted a bird on a cliff face and it was quickly in the telescope – a Ring Ouzel! A wonderful find; these mountain thrushes are on their migration from Africa back to the mountains of Wales to breed and a real thrill to see one here on the Great Orme.

A short drive took us to RSPB Conwy Nature Reserve where we enjoyed a coffee overlooking the first lagoon where Teal, Gadwall, Sand Martins, Swallows and singing Sedge Warbler all added to our day list. From the boardwalk we were lucky enough to actually see a singing Reed Warbler – often heard but not often seen. We visited two of the hides, still closed due to COVID-19 but the screens still allow views of the pools, and here we enjoyed lots of birds. A Little Ringed Plover was perhaps the highlight, a scarce bird in this area, and we also enjoyed super views of two Common Sandpiper, Wigeon, Little Egrets, Tufted Ducks and many more.

We enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch at a viewpoint overlooking the Conwy valley – perfect spot in the sun with stunning views – and of course more birds. A beautiful Red Kite soared close by, showing off all those gorgeous colours and there were plenty of Common Buzzards, while up to a pair of Goosander were on the river.

Next stop a beautiful woodland where we were privileged to watch a pair of Pied Flycatchers building their nest, such wonderful birds and the song of Wood Warblers added to the scene. Then movement in the trees caught our attention. A large bird of prey was flying towards us; it landed but almost at once took flight again – a huge female Goshawk! What a fantastic sight and so close, we guess this super raptor had not noticed us hidden behind a stonewall as we watched the flycatchers? A wonderful encounter with exciting birds in a beautiful place – just what we always try and deliver on our tours, but a Goshawk that close was a very special moment indeed.

Always a real thrill to see a Ring Ouzel wherever you find them.

We then headed into the mountains and soaked up the stunning scenery in the gorgeous weather – even the summit of Snowdon was clear of cloud and the mountains all looked amazing. We had a lovely walk in a spectacular spot with 3,000 feet high mountains all around us and we had super views of a handsome male Ring Ouzel, more Wheatears and a lovely pair of Common Redstarts. Time had flown by as always when out enjoying the natural world in perfect weather with great company. We headed back to Llandudno and looked forward to part two of Andy and Lucy’s two-day custom tour.

Puffin head Hornoya 2015

Everyone loves to see Puffins and easy to see why!

We met up again with Andy and Lucy the next morning in Llandudno and headed over to Anglesey, again using two cars. At RSPB South Stack Nature Reserve we walked to the dramatic sea-cliffs and then followed the coast path towards South Stack lighthouse, not so many people about for a beautiful Bank Holiday Sunday – we had come here first in the hope of avoiding some the crowds at this very popular spot. The coastal scenery was breath-taking and wild flowers so beautiful. We enjoyed frame-filling views of Atlantic Puffins in the telescopes – the top target bird to see here – and also watched these colourful auks swimming on the sea below the cliffs amongst masses of Common Guillemots and Razorbills. The ledges were packed with more Common Guillemots and their moaning calls were loud in the still air.

Kittiwakes and Fulmars flew over the bay below us and we spotted harbour porpoises just off the lighthouse. Chough soared literally right above us showing off their scarlet red beaks and feet and giving their marvellous “cheeow” calls. At the visitor centre a Chough was feeding in the tiny garden right next to us, what a thrill to see this superb bird so close and we just stood and stared. Drinks were enjoyed outside in the glorious sunshine, and we watched in a mixture of amusement and horror at the gridlock in the car park, smug that we had arrived early and had parked further away.

South Stack view

We are so lucky here in North Wales with amazing birds and stunning places in which to enjoy them.

We then headed up to Cemlyn Lagoon where there were plenty of Sandwich Terns on the islands in the lake, the birds looking so white in the strong early afternoon sun. There were also about 120 Arctic Terns on the edge of the island looking much darker than their larger cousins. Every now and then the whole group of terns would lift as one and circle the lagoon calling loudly only to settle down again, a beautiful sight against the blue sky. An adult Mediterranean Gull was amongst the many Black-headed Gulls also on the islands though tricky to see with so many other birds in view! On the lagoon we watched Red-breasted Mergansers, Wigeon, Little Egret and Oystercatchers.

Next we walked out onto the headland and enjoyed our picnic lunch in a lovely spot in the sun with stunning views to the islands of The Skerries and Carmel Head. Of course as we ate we kept looking and enjoyed watching several Atlantic grey seals bobbing about, a Gannet powered past, Common Ringed Plovers were on the rocks just below us and Swallows were moving west following the coast. Lunch done, we had a lovely circular walk back past the lagoon, out to the coast then we followed the coastal path back to the cars. On the lagoon we picked out a single Common Tern amongst the ranks of Arctic Terns. On the sea we had good views of two drake Red-breasted Mergansers and on the rocks a good selection of waders with a Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Curlew and super views of Whimbrel, such lovely birds. A Grey Heron posed in a shallow bay for us as White Wagtails fed along the tide line and in the adjacent fields, a really lovely walk.

We then headed back towards Llandudno but made one last stop for a photo opportunity at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrwllllantysiliogogogoch – the town with the longest name in Europe. Always worth seeing the sign on the railway station – bonkers!

Sadly we then said goodbye to Andy and Lucy and thanked them so much for their wonderful company and for being our first official guests of 2021, we do hope we can enjoy great birds with them again.

Of course a wonderful way to see more birds is to join one of our Birdwatching Trips and learn a lot about the birds you are enjoying too. We have tours suitable for all from beginners to experienced birders who are seeking particular species. Just drop us a line here and we can arrange the perfect custom tour for you!

We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds with you soon.

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